Grow a Pleasure Garden
Itís fun to apply a garden metaphor to our lives now that Spring is nearly here. If you would like to cultivate a life with more meaningful pleasure in it, a life connected to nature and to your own deep self, check out this fun, easy game. You don’t need an actual plot of earth to grow real pleasure for yourself and your life.
Take some time when you wonít be interrupted and bring a pad and pencil with you to a quiet place. Now, without thinking too hard, just writing down whatever occurs to you first, answer this question:
What are 30 things that you truly enjoy doing? This could be anything from stroking your cat to chatting with a close friend, or from taking a walk in the woods at sunset to doing a crossword puzzle, making love with your partner to painting a picture. Write them all down.
Now, draw a circle on another sheet of paper and divide it with an X into 4 quadrants. Label each quadrant with one of these elements:
1 – Earth–physical/sensual
2 – Water–emotional/feeling
3 – Fire–spiritual
4 – Air–intellectual/thinking and communicating
Now look at your list of 30 pleasure-making activities. In which quadrant does each one belong? Write each of your 30 activities in the quadrant (or quadrants) that makes the most deep sense to you. For instance, cooking a delicious meal would probably be earth, sharing stories with a close friend might be water, doing a crossword puzzle, air. Some activities may bridge two or more elements: taking a walk in the woods is both earth and fire for me, for example, so see which activities of yours belong in more than one section of your circle.
Nobody ever said the sections of our life-garden need to be balanced, but do you notice that one or more of yours is heavier or lighter than the others? What pleasures could you add to your scanty quadrants? Imagine some things you could do to bring more life and pleasure to the parts of your garden that may be neglected, and write them down. Commit to tasting at least one pleasure every day. And enjoy the process of keeping your Pleasure Garden well-tended!
By Cait Johnson, author of Earth, Water, Fire, and Air (SkyLight Paths, 2003).