How Your Mind Is a Beautiful Garden
When Ed was going through a difficult patch in his life, he realized he was stuck in his mind, which felt like being stuck in a paper bag. He had nowhere to go, was just caught up in his own issues. It was like his mind was overcome by weeds, with no flowers to be found. He finally realized the true mind is like the sky—just as the sky has storms, wind, rain and tornadoes, but is not affected by these things. Your true mind has worries and fears, but also isn't affected by them.
In our recent book Be the Change, we interviewed more than 100 inspired people from all walks of life, who verified the importance of transforming anger and self-negation into acceptance and generosity. Among them is neuroscientist Dr. Richard Davidson, who—along with the Dalai Lama and psychologist Daniel Goleman—opened the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Here, a team of researchers will study such qualities as kindness, compassion and forgiveness, and how they affect the brain. The fact that such brilliant people have established this center highlights the importance of developing positive thinking versus maintaining negative thinking, such as self-dislike, anger and hatred.
How meditation can help your mind blossom
"By training the mind, we can actually change the brain toward greater contentment," Dr. Davidson says in the book. "There is certainly evidence to show that meditation practices designed to cultivate compassion and loving kindness change the brain in many positive ways."
Practicing meditation regularly can produce discernible changes in the brain in a matter of just eight weeks. This indicates that you can quite purposefully and systematically develop qualities such as kindness and compassion. "Be Good and Do Good" is a great mantra for this!
To feel the difference in yourself, try the practice below.
Pulling Weeds Meditation
Find a comfortable and upright place to sit. Take a few deep breaths, then watch the flow of your breath as it enters and leaves.
Now bring your focus to your heart, and as you breathe in, feel as if your heart is opening and softening; as you breathe out, release any tension or resistance.
Now visualize yourself walking in a beautiful but overgrown garden. All sorts of colorful flowers surround you, but among them are numerous weeds.
You find a place to sit amidst the plants, and with awareness you mindfully begin to remove the weeds. Each one represents a negative aspect of yourself or your life. Name it as you remove it, and watch it leave your mind as you discard it.
The more weeds you remove, the lighter you feel, as if a weight is being removed from you. As you do this, the flowers are growing stronger and brighter.
Stay here as long as you like. You may not have time to pull up all the weeds, so before you leave, promise you will be back again to remove some more.
When you are ready, silently repeat three times, "May I be happy, may my mind be like a beautiful garden." Take a deep breath and let it go. Then fill the rest of your day with kindness and smiles.
Ed and Deb Shapiro are the authors of Be The Change, How Meditation Can Transform You and the World. They are featured weekly contributors to Oprah.com, HuffingtonPost.com and Care2.com. Ed and Deb write Sprint's The Daily CHILLOUT inspirational text messages. They have three meditation CDs: Metta: Loving Kindness and Forgiveness, Samadhi: Breath Awareness and Insight and Yoga Nidra: Inner Conscious Relaxation. Deb is also the author of the best-selling book Your Body Speaks Your Mind, winner of the 2007 Visionary Book Award.
Keep Reading More from Ed and Deb Shapiro:
The beauty of living in the moment
How meditation can calm your mind
Get a self-esteem boost from meditation