What is The Garden?
- The Garden
- The Garden is a metaphor for growth. Here, we plant the seeds to grow, and as we cultivate our own garden, we also remove the weeds that negatively effect our garden by tearing them out at the root, not just clipping off what appears at the surface. We grow by taking care of our problems at the root, not taking away the symptoms. And with time, we can overcome anything.
I welcome any questions you may have. Every Sunday, I will do a "Question of the Week", in which I will post and answer one or two questions from the emails I have received. Please submit your emails for this with Monday through Thursday.
Of course, you can email me at any time, but please note that due to the large amount of emails received, I may not be able to respond. I will try to get to as many as possible, and there may be a delay. If I don't answer, feel free to email me again. Thank you for your understanding!
Send to thegardensgate[at]gmail[dot]com or click on the envelope below.
Twitter Updates @thegardensgate
Thursday, October 28, 2010
How do you know when this is happening? Well, the easiest tip off, is when confronted on something that you did, you start to tell the other person what they could do to make the situation better. The lesson here is simple, if you screw something up, you fix it. By telling someone else what they could do to make the situation better, your ego is denying responsibility, because the ego never wants you to be wrong. It is absolutely amazing what happens when you say "Yep! It was my fault, what can I do to make it better?" The situation immediately becomes peaceful. There is no more anxiety between the parties, and a peaceful resolution can be found. You have also come from your highest self and bypassed your ego, and you'll find it's not that hard to do! This is a tremendous step in growth! I've said before, that one of the hardest parts of spiritual growth is admitting all the things about yourself that you don't like, and that's including that you have done things wrong in your past. And chances are, if you are addressing that concern, it is because you didn't fully take responsibility for those actions. Sometimes it is not pleasant to admit you made a mistake, or screwed something else, or your actions hurt someone else, but that is simply the ego. If you take it as a learning experience, and openly admit to what your responsibility was, you begin to find a beautiful peace, and that peace will continuously make it easier to take responsibility for your actions next time.
The dis-comfort that we feel when we are arguing over something we did, and we try to tell the others what they could do to make it better, is not caused by the situation itself, but by our reaction to the situation. You will always experience some sort of dis-comfort when you are not coming from your highest self. It is our soul pointing out to us that we need to address something. Again, when you feel pain in your knee if you injure it, it is your body telling you to pay attention to that area and fix it before you keep walking on it. The same is true in a spiritual sense. When you feel that discomfort, it is your consciousness telling you to pay attention to your actions and reactions, because there is something not right with it. If you are open to this energy, you will find it's a perfect road map to overcome ego, and it starts with taking responsibility for your actions.
Don't be afraid. It is absolutely 100% ok to make mistakes. We all do it, and we will continue to do it until we reach that enlightened state. And while admitting to your mistakes and taking responsibility for your actions will propel you down your path, not taking responsibility and making it about something or someone else will only prevent you from walking farther down your path. And your ego will keep you firmly planted where you are until you overcome it. "I'm sorry" can be the most powerful sentence you've ever spoken, both for you and for the other parties involved.
Laugh, love, learn, and enjoy the process. You will make mistakes, but they are only pointers to show you the correct way to go. Enjoy them, learn from them, and realize that they are a part of spiritual growth. And when you can openly admit to them, you will find a beautiful peace in yourself and your surroundings.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
A- That's a great question, and it's a question that is asked a lot when I teach meditation. The simplest of answers is: There is no recommended time. While some say you should have a time frame in mind, I feel that once you start putting your thoughts on "time" (Which, technically, doesn't exist), then you start putting outside influence on your internal process. The fact is, I will always take QUALITY of meditation, over QUANTITY. As I tell my beginners , if they get to sit in their emptiness for only 10-15 seconds, that is much better than sitting in your thoughts for 30 minutes.
There are going to be days where you can seemingly meditate forever. I love those days. With a strong meditative practice, you can find yourself meditating for as long as you want to. But even in that practice, you may have days where you just can't get out of your own head. Even if the thoughts are good, positive, affirming thoughts, you are still in your thoughts. And unless you are doing a positive affirmation meditation, then that's really not the goal. So your meditation on those days may only be 10 minutes. It can be frustrating when the day before you were having a great 45 minute meditation, and the next day you can't "get there". Unfortunately, that adds to the anxiousness, and you start thinking about how you can't get there, and soon, you are swimming in your thoughts. On days like that when you can't get out of your own head, I really recommend starting a positive affirmation meditation, keeping your thoughts positive, and then coming out of your meditation. If you can find a minute or two to be in your emptiness, then that is better than nothing.
If you are just starting off, don't have any expectations of what it is supposed to be. Just go through your meditation and approach it with focus and concentration. If you are able to get to that place of emptiness for a few minutes, then expand on that next time. But don't set a time frame, or a schedule, as that takes away from the idea of what you're there to do to begin with. If you are an "expert", then simply let your inner self talk to you. You will know when you are done. But most of all, just enjoy the experience. Getting frustrated with meditation will never lead you to better meditations.
The only thing that I will say about "time", is that you do try to set a time to do your meditation. Not a specific time, like 11:06am, but after breakfast, or before bed. Just something that you can put into a routine, so that it becomes part of who you are, instead of something on your list of things to do for the day. In the long run, you'll get much more out of it. So, that's about it! Thanks for the question!
Thursday, October 21, 2010
This is actually a quite normal function of most the population of the world. And it stands to reason, that if a person who always has life go their way meets up with a person who always seems to have life go against them, neither one of them would be able to see the others point of view. The person with the good "luck" would tell the other person how to change their life around, while the person with the bad luck would debate those ideas with all the things that go wrong in their life. This is a simple cause and effect because the person with all the good luck has never been in the person with bad luck's shoes, and vice versa, so how can you possibly know any better?
As I've said before, it is not for you to understand everything in the world, but to accept that others are not you is very important. It is also just as important to realize that you are not anyone else. This concept will help fight jealousy and envy, when you realize that what is for you is for you. But it is very important for you to be OPEN. Open to the Universe around you, open to ideas and situations that are not your own, and open to the fact that others may not share your ideas, views, or opinions. This does not make anyone right or wrong. Only ego says that to you. And more than that, if you are not open, then you have a great possibility of getting "stuck" right where you are.
The best example of this is in a relationship. If you've only ever known bad relationships, when one comes along that is better than the others, it is easy to stick to that relationship because compared to the others, it is good. But all relationships stand on their own. A person is either good for you, or they are not good for you. At some point you have to come to a realization of what you deem acceptable in your life, and how you feel you would like to be treated by others. Unfortunately, without being open to the infinite possibilities that are offered to you, you may find yourself stuck in a relationship that isn't good for you, for no other reason than it is simply a little better than all your other ones. Because you are living only your version of what your reality is, and not seeing that there can be an entirely different version all together. You are fixated on looking at your situation only through your eyes. Imagine what you could see if you pull back and look from a different perspective?
Remember that the Universe dreams dreams for you that are so much greater than anything you can dream for yourself. Also remember that your opinions end within you. They have no value outside of yourself. Remember to keep your opinions directed inside. Instead of "that's a stupid TV show", it's simply "I personally don't care for that show". This way, your opinion does not lash out at anyone else.
It is very difficult sometimes to look at something with another set of eyes. Many times, the only time we can do that is when we look back on a situation and think to ourselves "What was I thinking"? Those are fresh eyes. Now, imagine that you can have those eyes in the present moment, without having to wait years to look backwards. Well, you do have those eyes, you just have to use them. They are within you, and when you look at yourself from your highest self, with love, you will see things in a different perspective. I have often found that the Universe does not give me what I want, it gives me what I need. And pretty much every time I receive it, I realize that it is exactly what I wanted all along, whether I knew it at the time or not. So don't cling to the idea of what you "need". Just know that what you truly need is coming to you. You just have to remain OPEN.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
A- Well, not spiritual advice that will magically shed pounds, but there are a lot of spiritual practices that you can put into your situation of losing weight to focus on your goal, and stay away from disappointment.
First of all, don't look at a scale. If you want to step on the scale to mark your "starting weight", that's fine, but then stay off of it. When you start focusing on a number, you start focusing on something that is outside of yourself. When you look at something external for solace, you will only be disappointed. You must continue to look inside. Go by how your clothes fit. And even then, don't pay attention to it every day. If you really, truly, have to get on a scale, don't do it any more than once every two weeks. I'd even say once a month. Focus on what you want to accomplish, not a number.
Second, understand that losing weight is a long term process. If I told you I could help you lose 30 lbs in 30 days, you'd probably be very happy with that. If I told you then, that it would take 9 months, you'd probably feel some sense of disappointment. What does time have to do with your intention to lose weight? Losing 30 lbs is losing 30 lbs. Don't put a time frame on it. Stay within the moment. An easy way to do this, and stay motivated, is make yourself a calendar each month, and every day, cross out the day. This way, you show that today, you did something. And after a while, you can see that you have been continuing a good habit, and accomplishing your goal. If you combine looking at the scale and the calendar, soon you will feel like giving up, because you won't feel like things are happening fast enough for you. Crossing off the days means that every day, you will do something to move closer to your goal. Stay in the moment.
Lastly, know in your heart you are doing something that is good for you. If you need to do positive affirmations, then do it! When you're working out, tell yourself that you can do it! That you are losing weight. It is imperative that you keep a healthy state of mind. If you know that you are doing something that is good for you, you will be more apt to continue to do it. So make yourself know, and believe, that you are indeed doing something good for yourself.
The path to losing weight is just like the path we're walking on. It takes time, dedication, and practice. Just keep the focus within yourself, not outside of yourself. Don't set a number you want to "be", just continue your routine until you feel like you are where you would like to be, and above all, remain aware of your thoughts. Keep the negative thoughts away, and reinforce a positive state of mind.
Good luck, and thanks for the question!!
Saturday, October 16, 2010
6- medium strawberries
1-kiwi (not the skin)
Small handful of baby greens (leafy greens!)
Small handful of spinach
Small handful fresh kale greens
1/2 to 1 tblspn ground flax seed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1-2 splenda (optional.. if it's too bitter for you, try splenda!)
Optional- small handful of frozen blueberries
Blend well, for 1-2 minutes until smooth. Add a handful of ice, blend until smooth again, and drink up!
It's packed with nutrients and anti-oxidants, but one thing to be careful of.... Go slow until you see how your body digests them. There's lots of fiber, and it will prompt you to move your bowels, which is good. You can increase to two a day after your body adjusts.
That's it! Hope you enjoy them!
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
But with the different ideas of what makes up a "spiritual community", I thought I would put the question to my readers. What to you would make up a spiritual community? What would you like to have in that spiritual community to be made available to you?
Please email me by clicking here to use The Garden's main email address. Tell me what you think, and I'm going to write about what I get in an upcoming blog. Thanks, and I'm looking forward to hearing from you!!
Monday, October 11, 2010
Just as you use what you have learned about math to solve a math problem, so must you use the lessons you've learned on your path to solve the problem facing you. That may be easier said than done, so here are some tips to help you out.
First, is there anything about this situation that is the same as something that I have gone through before? This question is important because not only may it help you to overcome something happening in your life similar to something else, but it may also help you to realize that you may have not completed the lesson the first time around. The Universe constantly tests us. If you find you are in the same situation again, there's a very good chance that you are the one that put yourself there. There were no thoughts or changes in behavior within yourself to create a different outcome. Remember, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome.
Second, what about this is different than what I've been through before. Reflecting on this question will awaken you to a new side of something. It may be the first time you're seeing it, or, you may realize that it's been there before, you just never looked at it in a certain way before. It may also awaken you to something new inside yourself. You may find the answer flows freely from inside of you when you take time out to reflect and see "what is" in front of you. Finding time to sit and meditate in times of crisis is very important, because you must free your mind of the clutter of not only the everyday "stuff", but also the emotional reaction to the situation you are in right now. As Dr. Dyer says, "when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change."
Third, be aware of your actions and reactions during the tough times. It is a great insight into what's in your heart, and where you still can grow. My weakness is traffic. I am fully aware that traffic cannot affect me, but I do let it. I'm getting better, and I will overcome this. But I am fully aware when it is happening. In fact, most times I just look up, smile and say "Ok, I failed this test again, but keep it coming! I'll pass it someday!" Also, realize that it is absolutely 100% ok to fail a test! We are on the path, not at the end of it. Some lessons we learn quickly, some we repeat daily. But being aware that it is within you, and not the external circumstance will help the growth process. When you blame someone else for your reaction, ie: "That guy cut me off! What a *@#!@&!" Well, you can choose to be upset, or you can choose not to be. The judgment is in place because you are blaming him for something, and he is at fault. That means you are right, and he is wrong. That, of course, is ego. It also stems from the connection to "I want". "I want to drive without someone cutting me off and I want to get to my destination." And when something stands in your way, then out comes the dis-comfort. But when you are aware that it is within you, you relieve the situation of doing something "to" you, and your ego is in check. You are responsible for your actions and reactions. And even if you didn't handle it the best that you could, you are aware of it, and you can then continue to grow.
There are always going to be times in which we feel disconnected. It is worse for us when we have felt connected for a long time, because now we "feel" that something is wrong. As I mentioned in another blog, that "dis-comfort" is only telling us that we need to work on something within us. Using the above methods can help you tremendously to get through these times, and as I've found out again and again, there is usually a period of tremendous growth after a period of "disconnection", as long as you continue to do the work. Remember, it's a spiritual practice, which means we must continue to practice. The more you practice, the better you will be. And with time, you will overcome all obstacles.
Friday, October 8, 2010
Getting back to my interaction with the grocery bagger, what an amazing difference he could have felt inside himself by recognizing the passion in the individuals, and seeing the good that was happening. Instead, he only saw his dislike in himself, and felt the annoyance of that situation. We cannot judge someone for being interested in something that we are not. It is not "wrong" that they are interested in it, just as much as it is not "right" that we are not interested in it. But, if left unchecked, these attitudes flow over into how we interact with the world around us. Someone's clothing style, someone's sexual preference, someone's political affiliations. All these things can cause a great amount of discomfort when we put our "opinions" on it. It's always amazed me that when I tell someone I don't like tomatoes that there is never a reaction, but if I don't like something that someone else holds some sort of attachment to, they will argue with you like mad for not agreeing with them.
There is great beauty in differences of opinion. If used correctly, they can open up new thoughts and ideas that maybe you haven't seen or thought of before. Or, maybe not, but you have to be able to give the person the permission to be them. It only affects you if you let it affect you. Remember, you don't have to understand why the person does something, or believes in something, but we do have to accept it. Because all the arguing in the world is not going to make the situation any different. And when you start feeling that discomfort inside of you that questions "How on earth can they DO that?", realize that it's their stuff, not your stuff, and it's perfectly ok for them to do that. Then turn within and ask yourself what about you can't seem to handle that. You may be amazed at what you find.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
So, am I saying that life is just being born, and waiting it out until we die? No, of course not. Life is living! And I can tell you what it is not. It is not material possessions, a job, money, a gorgeous spouse, vacationing in Europe every year, kids, a dog, or a white picket fence. Those are things that we have come to believe make a life, when in fact, they have nothing to do with it. They do not make anything. Even if we have all those things, we will not be happy unless we are happy inside ourselves. Money comes and goes, spouses do to in this age, and there's a very good chance that you will outlive your car. But people put so much importance on those things as if that's what makes a "life". We are filled with expectations that society and ego have created for us. It is simply a dream that someone else dreamt for us, and is not real. When the expectations we have falter, we feel pain and dis-comfort. When we can't get the house, or lose the house, we grow uncomfortable within ourselves. I read an article about a financial planner who lost everything when the economy failed. His quote was "I'm only happy when I'm making money". What a sad way to live! His entire "life" is based on money. If he has it, life is good. Without it, life is meaningless. I'm sure after the collapse of the economy he was questioning "How could this happen to me?" The statement of the victim and ego. He based his life on a possession, and when that left, he was decimated. I wonder how his personal relationships were handled when he was without his money, his happiness.
It's not a bad thing to set goals, as long as we have no emotional connection to those goals should they not come to fruition. But we cannot attach ourselves to material possessions in the hopes that those things will create a life. Life is within us. It IS us. We are life. When we truly live, we find we do not need those things that you've expected to have such as the house and the kids. Life flows from within us. What we do with ourselves create our lives. I've always said the meaning of life is knowledge, and helping others. It is simple. We create our lives, and when you free ourselves from desire, you will find a peace like you have never known. Does it sound too simple? Well, it is. We make it hard.
Sunday, October 3, 2010
A- Well, your first sentence says a lot. You have already identified that he was not good for you. The question becomes, if he is not good for you, then why would you be holding on to something that is not acceptable to you? The answer is not love. We can have love for someone but still realize that they are not good for us. Love is love, it doesn't keep us from moving on, nor does it keep people together. How people relate to each other is what keeps them together. If you know that this man was not good for you, then you should first look into yourself and decide what is good for you. Somewhere along the lines, you have stopped looking at you, and concentrated your thoughts on something else. Whether it's him, the idea of what he could have been, or maybe some event that happened between you that never happened before, you have stopped looking inside of you, and are focused on something outside of you. But things outside of you are just that: outside. They cannot be in our grasp, nor can we work on those things. If we focus on those things outside of us, the pain and turmoil will remain. We are powerless over everything outside of ourselves. When you turn your thoughts and focus inside, you will find the power to start to let go.
What is inside of you then? First off, if you know he was not good for you, then at some level, you know something was happening that was unacceptable to you. If it is unacceptable, then what about you is telling yourself to hold on to something unacceptable? More times than not, it is due to an insecurity or fear. It may be as simple as fear of being alone. That fear prevents a lot of people from moving forward. Maybe you felt that he fulfilled some need inside of you. If that's the case, then you only have to look within to fill that need. It needs to flow from within you. Where does that insecurity come from? How can you overcome that insecurity? Remember, nothing external can fill an internal need. If you have a void that you are trying to fill with someone or something else, you need to fill that void with you, from you. But if you did "fill that void" with him, then that's another reason you cannot let go, because as he goes, so does what was filling your insecurity. And lastly, you may be feeling that despite his problems, you'll never find someone like him. Or, more specifically, if he did fill a void inside of yourself, you may feel that you'll never find someone to fill that void again. For that, I offer just one thought. Do you really think, with all the infinite number of possibilities that exist in the Universe, that he is the only one that can co-exist peacefully in your life? That he is the only one that exhibits the things you liked about him? That there's no one who exhibits the good of him, without the things you feel were bad for you? Just because you haven't found him yet, doesn't mean you won't find him.
The Universe dreams dreams for us that are much bigger than anything we can possibly dream for ourselves. And when we keep the wrong person in our lives, it prevents the right person from coming in. Instead of focusing on him, what he did, how he can improve, and all the what if's that go along with that thinking, turn your thoughts within. What about you feels compelled to hang on to a bad relationship? What about you is clinging to something you know was not acceptable? When you turn within yourself, you take control over what can be fixed, and not only will you start to feel better, you may also find an area of growth you didn't realize was in you before.
Friday, October 1, 2010
This lesson has so many facets to it, I'll briefly touch on a couple. First of all, how do we change the way we look at things? The easiest way is to be impeccable with our thoughts. One of my favorite exercises is for you to imagine that you have a genie on your shoulder at all times, and whatever you think, or say, instantly becomes your reality. How many things would you take back in an average day? Imagine your thought when you encounter some traffic on the way to work: "Man, I'm going to be late". Your wish is my command!! And suddenly, you're late. Or, "I'm never going to get all my stuff done!" Abracadabra! Your stuff will not get done. Many of our thoughts are self limiting thoughts, and negative in nature. I asked one friend once when he was playing the lottery, "Do you think you'll ever win?" And he replied "no". Then why play at all? If you truly believe you'll never win, and your thoughts become your world, then do something more useful with the dollar! One thing you can do to break this, is try not to have an opinion about it at all. Stories are just lies we tell ourselves. When we want to call someone, but we say "Oh, they're probably busy", it is a lie we just told ourselves. If you want to tell yourself a story, tell yourself a good one! Or, don't have an opinion on it at all, and just make the call. If they're busy, they're busy, if not, then you get to talk to them. The other way out of this, is to be aware of that thought as soon as it pops in your mind, and "take it back", and replace it with another one. Instead of "I'm never going to get my stuff done!", it can be "I'm making some great progress today!" It doesn't mean you magically will get your stuff done, but it puts it into a peaceful, goal oriented action thought. And if you believe you are making great progress, chances are, you'll get all your stuff done.
The second thing you can do is when you notice that your thought is about someone else, or someone else's action, turn that thought onto yourself. After all, we cannot modify anyone else's actions; they have to do that themselves. But what about YOU is feeling the way you're feeling? People and events cannot make you feel anything. It's what's inside you that makes you feel the way you do. That's why the same event can be handled two different ways by two different people. If the event caused you to feel a certain way, it would make everyone feel that way. Some people are calm in traffic, others are not. The traffic doesn't cause stress, it's what you know about yourself inside that causes stress. So if someone cuts you off in traffic, and you think "I can't believe that guy cut me off!", turn the thought back to you and say "What about me is mad about getting cut off?" When you realize that there's nothing earth shattering about getting cut off, and it's the ego's response to get mad and be a victim of something, you can diffuse the situation by looking at it a different way. "Thank God he didn't hit me. What a blessing I'm safe and protected." How can you get mad at that thought? In a relationship, it may be "He doesn't call me enough". Turn that thought back to yourself and say "What about me needs to be called so much?" You just may find your insecurity inside yourself.
When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at do change. When we don't want that genie on our shoulder to create a negative situation for us, we can change our thoughts to be on the positive side. When ego makes us look at and question others, we can turn that question back to ourselves to find out what's inside us. That's where the growth is going to occur anyway. You getting mad at the driver cutting you off certainly isn't going to help you grow, nor will it magically change the situation that just happened. But if you find inside yourself what bothers you so much, then you can change the way you look at the event, even yourself, and create a peaceful outcome.