My teacher Mark would always say, “Be a flower blooming in your own garden.” It’s a lovely statement and I remember when I first heard it that it landed for me and felt like a truth but it’s taken me a long time to come to my own understanding of what it means. I find that sometimes the things we read in spiritual books or hear from teachers can take time to fully understand. “Be a flower blooming in your own garden” was a seed that was planted when the ground was fertile and took root. Over time, by cultivating that seed through daily practice, it has blossomed into my own understanding. Recently while teaching at an ayahuasca retreat I had the following insight.
When we are children, we are a small delicate seedling growing in the garden that our parents or caregivers cultivate and tend. For many of us, this ecosystem lacked all the nourishment and space we needed to grow into our fullest expression. As we grow older and go to school and enter into society, we often find that we’ve been transplanted into environments that restrict our growth or fail to provide nourishment in other ways. It’s not until we’re adults and out on our own that we finally have the opportunity to create our own garden that will provide us with everything we need to grow into our full potential. This is our responsibility as adults and it’s what is required if we want to grow beyond the limitations of the family and culture we were born into.
The soil of this garden is the unconditional love and acceptance that we may not have had when we were growing up, but which is needed for our true self to blossom. The nutrients for that soil are the lifestyle choices we make and the relationships we choose to engage in. The energetic and emotional release that happens through the breath and movement practices are like removing the weeds from your garden to create space to grow and light to come in. The awareness you develop is like the light of the sun, showing you not only your potential but also the areas that are restricted and need tending. A daily practice sends your roots deep, providing the resilience and support needed to survive challenging conditions when they arise like a storm of wind and rain.
Some people are naturally more like sunflowers, big and strong with a thick stalk. Some are more delicate like an orchid. Each person requires a different approach to practice just like every flower has different requirements for care. Sometimes if the garden hasn’t been tended to for some time, or if the environment we were raised in was especially harsh, we need to do some heavy labour to restore the nutrients in the soil and remove the overgrowth of choking weeds. This is where plant medicines like ayahuasca can be very helpful. A powerful medicine like ayahuasca has the ability to clear away the thorny brambles that we’ve cultivated as a protective barrier but which eventually block the light and restrict our room to grow. A daily practice is a way for you to maintain your garden, keep the weeds at bay and nourish the soil in which the flower of your true self can bloom into its full expression.
Photo by Robert Mapplethorpe