As we look toward spring, the garden is everybody’s favorite metaphor. If we are to be the gardeners of our own intentions, the planters of abundant, joyful, beautiful lives, then we can look to the wisdom of gardeners throughout the ages that says we must prepare the soil before we plant. So what does that mean for us, exactly? Try these playful, simple ideas to help you prepare for a spring-like new beginning in your own life.
1. Collect old seeds. Before we begin setting intentions for the new growing season, it can be useful to reflect on the past year. What were the projects, ideas, or relationships that you nurtured? What bore fruit? What died on the vine? What were the lessons you learned? Are there any seed ideas that you would like to try planting again? Are there any ways to build on what you have already accomplished?
2. Clear the debris. We need to be sure there is room in our lives for new growth before we plant. Take stock of the commitments and activities that clutter your life-garden. What has grown dry? What no longer feeds you? Most of us have a lot of dead stuff rattling in the breeze of our garden that does nothing but take up space. It is never too late to learn the fine art of saying no to things that deplete us. Clear things out! You will feel so much more spacious and expansive.
3. Till the soil. Earth needs to be loose and aerated for it to host new life. When we get hardened and stiff in our ways of thinking and behaving, the likelihood of anything new taking root in us is pretty slim. But we can counteract the tendency toward rigidity by taking time for small eye-opening experiences. Life can be such an adventure! Try driving home a new way, or opening a magazine you’ve never read before, checking out an unfamiliar author at a library, or renting a DVD you wouldn’t ordinarily watch.
4. Make the soil fertile. When the ground is warm, ready, and expectant, all it needs is a little nourishment. What are the things that feed your soul? What is the fertilizer for your life? Some of us love reading poetry, or listening to music. Others of us take nature walks for inspiration, or cook special meals. Take time to nourish your garden with the things you love.
5. Dream your garden. Some of us love this step best of all! The power of the human imagination is truly staggering: put yours to work for you, imagining what you want to grow in your life-garden this year. Is it a new relationship? A creative project? A healthier, stronger self? Most gardeners need a visual image to be their map and guide, so you could try making a collage of photos or quotes that embody your longings and put it where you can see it and be reminded. These intention-collages are extraordinarily powerful.
6. Plant. Once you know what you truly want to grow in your garden, it only remains to take the appropriate steps. Want a new relationship? Tell all your friends that you’re ready to date and see if they know anyone. Want a creative project? Begin jotting down ideas as they come to you. Want to feel healthier? Start taking a brisk walk every day. The spring season is so filled with promise and opportunity. So are you.
By Cait Johnson, author of Earth, Water, Fire, and Air (SkyLight Paths, 2003).