I love gardening, working the soil, planting tiny seeds, and watching them grow. A few weeks ago, while plucking crabgrass from the kale, I found myself thinking about my clients and their bone health concerns. I was entranced pondering the extent to which mental and emotional stress robs us of both happiness and bone health. Entertaining this thought, a “Garden–Life” metaphor sprung to mind. The metaphor was straightforward and applies to both backyard gardens and mental landscapes. The metaphor is, “Nourish the wanted, and weed out the unwanted.”
Two weeks later, after attending Acharya Shunya’s enlivening Roar Like a Goddess Workshop, I was inspired to write these 6 tips for Weeding Your Mental Garden. They are simple “Acharya Shunya–inspired” self-awareness practices that you and I can employ to create inner peace and a mind that works for us, not against us. (In case you have not heard of her work yet, Acharya Shunya is a foremost spiritual leader of our time, a bestselling author, Vedic scholar, and the first female custodian of a 2000-year-old Vedic wisdom lineage. I had the great fortune to recently interview her at the Omega Institute. You can learn more about her work and how you can enjoy this wisdom-packed video interview at the end of this blog.)
Here’s how the story goes and here are your 6 empowering tips for creating the bone strength and destiny you desire:
Each spring six of my friends and I plant a lovely backyard vegetable garden. While none of us are expert gardeners, we enjoy watching the blooming of life and thinking of ways to nourish this new life with fertilizer, water, sunshine, and our love. We also keep an eye on weeds, for those unwanted visitors could easily take over the entire garden if not kept in line. The more we tend to our garden, the more beautiful and fruitful it becomes.
The Garden–Life Metaphor
What I realized was that in our mind we plant “seeds” with each thought, each belief, each desire, and intention. These “seeds” can be life-supporting positive thoughts which carry an energy of appreciation, happiness, contentment, or even love. Or the thought can carry an energy of negativity, blaming, anger, worry, and even fear. In our mindscape we fertilize these “thought seeds” by the attention we give to them. Whether we are aware of it or not, what we put our attention on grows stronger in our everyday life, and in our mental garden.
Just as we produce a more bountiful and beautiful garden if we limit the weeds, with awareness we can control the unwanted “mental weeds” which occupy space and broadcast their vibration throughout our mindscape.
And what exactly are “mental weeds”?
“Mental weeds” are repeated thoughts and beliefs that invade and disrupt the natural tranquil, peaceful, and happy feelings in our mindscape. These weeds are disruptive, negative, volunteer mental pop-ups which include anxiety, self-doubt, anger, worry, and fear. The mental and emotional negativity from these “thought weeds” is well-documented as a contributing factor to many chronic degenerative diseases, including osteoporosis (as detailed in the Better Bone Solution Course and my blog, How Bone Responds to Danger).
This mind-body-bone connection is well established. The Bible, for example, declares that “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22) Even more striking is the 5,000-year-old Ayurvedic wisdom Acharya shared with me. In our discussion, she mentioned that another word for “health’ in the ancient Vedic texts was “happiness.” The crowning touch of all this was at the end of our interview when Acharya Shunya applauded me for detecting that worry and fear damage bone. She recounted the fact that ancient Vedic texts mention that bone is the strongest material in the body, the strongest, but the one thing that can erode it is negativity. Thinking about those pearls of wisdom fueled my motivation to up the level of my mental/emotional gardening!
6 Tips for Weeding Your Mental Garden
Inspired by Vedic Scholar, Acharya Shunya
- Take inventory of your thoughts.
- Experiment with putting attention on one thought and note the “feeling” of the thought. Was the thought associated with the feeling of well-being or even contentment? Or, was it critical of others or yourself? Was it demeaning to yourself or anyone else? Was it a good feeling thought?
- Ask yourself, “Is this a thought or belief I want to carry forward and let influence my life daily? Or can I let this item just pass through?
- Be aware, remind yourself, that the thoughts you repeat over and over again become the strongest weeds.
- Do some mental housekeeping.
- Remember, you are not your thoughts. You are the witness to your mental ramblings.
- With practice you can come to create a little distance between yourself and your thoughts.
- You can become a witness to your thoughts. You can realize yourself as the awareness behind your thoughts.
- As the witness, you then consciously choose which thoughts you want to grow stronger, and which thoughts you want to let pass through.
- Remember once again that what you put your attention on will grow stronger in your life.
- Weed out the thoughts and associated feelings that you’d rather not have more of in your life.
- Also, you do not have to hold tight to every single thought—you have plenty to spare.
- In fact, you have about 90 thousand thoughts a day, most of which also passed through your mindscape yesterday.
- As spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle suggests, it’s good practice to not take your thoughts so seriously.
- Meditate on the wisdom of this ancient Vedic observation that Acharya taught me:
- Every action leads to habit.
- Every habit leads to character.
- And the character leads to destiny.
- As she suggests, Don’t give room in your beautiful mind to one single thought without purpose.
- Make your mind your servant, not your master.
- When your mind is in turmoil, or overshadowed by worry, stop whatever you are doing.
- Take several deep belly breaths and move your attention to what it feels like to breathe in and breathe out.
- The creation of even a small space between you and your worrisome thought calms the mind.
- Then ask yourself, “Can I acknowledge this thought and its associated feeling, and then let go of it?”
- Or, do I need to undertake a reality check to verify if what I’m thinking is actually so?
- Or, is it time to gather up my sovereign power and address the situation?
- Be kind and gentle with yourself and others.
- Remember it is the nature of the mind to move about quickly, just as it is the nature of the monkey to jump from branch to branch.
- You can’t control your monkey mind all the time.
- Your sovereign self, however, can witness the thoughts, and you realize you are not your mind.
- You can create a gap between your thoughts and emotions and your deepest self.
- Resting in this gap repeatedly, you then gently sow the seeds of your desires and you envision your desired mental landscape.
- Upon rising each morning, check your mental/emotional tone.
- Where has your mind wandered during the night, what are your feelings?
- If I wake buoyant and happy, I give gratitude to the great goddess for restorative sleep.
- If I wake up less buoyant, I immediately dial in one of my inspirational spiritual teachers, consciously setting a higher vibration.
- You might begin by asking yourself, what vibrational tone do I want for the day?
- Consciously decide the tone you want to carry through the day.
- And then ask, what can I do that would move my energy field in that direction?
- Tone-setting activities are many, and it’s your pick. Possibilities include meditation, prayer, reading or listening to uplifting speakers, wisdom teachings, or sacred scriptures, taking a sunrise walk, hitting the yoga mat, music, chants. The tone-setting possibilities are endless. Have some fun and see what works best for you.
In closing, let me suggest that this is easier than you might think. As Acharya reminded me, the constitution/organization of the physical body takes some time to change—you don’t change your bone fragility score overnight. But the constitution/organization of the mind can change in a flash. Changing your mind, you change your life, immediately!
So, let’s all get to it! Do the work, begin designing a mind that serves your bones and your greatness! I will be right there beside you.
Acharya Shunya’s website: awakenedself.com
Acharya Shunya’s books:
- Ayurveda Lifestyle Wisdom: A Complete Prescription to Optimize Your Health, Prevent Disease, and Live with Vitality and Joy, Sounds True, 2017.
- Sovereign Self: Claim Your Inner Joy and Freedom with the Empowering Wisdom of the Vedas, Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita, Sounds True, 2020.
- Roar Like a Goddess: Every Woman’s Guide to Becoming Unapologetically Powerful, Prosperous and Peaceful, Sounds True, 2022.