I just gave a workshop called Your Elemental and Emotional Balance, based on the book, The Language of Emotions by Karla McLaren, and my training as a Dynamic Emotional Integration Trainer. We worked with the 4 elements of Earth, Air, Water and Fire, and the Empathic Mindfulness Practices we can do to rebalance ourselves. Since then, the aspect of maintaining an emotional balance through the elements has cropped up all the over the place, especially since I’ve been working in the garden. Physical labor relates to the Earth element, and planning the garden relates to the Fiery vision of what I want to eat in two months, and Airy logic to lay it out in a way that takes advantage of the sun’s passage.
My husband and I are part of a CSA (community supported agriculture, which means we get our vegetables directly from the farmers. This keeps our money in the community, and gives us fresher veggies). We’ll be receiving a box of fresh produce every two weeks to supplement whatever we plant in the garden, all summer long and into the fall. Because this box often contains staples like lettuce, onions, potatoes, and squash, I decided to dedicate our tiny garden space to the things we really like and wish we could get more of – heirloom tomatoes, green beans, basil, arugula, spinach, and strawberries.
I’ve found the garden to be a place of balance for me, when I need to regulate my emotions or just for a break in between tasks.
3 Lessons from the Garden
1. Keep transforming
I’ve planted my lettuce and arugula and spinach, expectantly waited to see little green heads pop up, felt a little pop of excitement when a whole row appears above the soil, and a little sigh of sadness when one doesn’t make it. My tomato transplants are freshly installed in the ground, while the flowering sweet peas I planted last fall are finally blooming, after they climbed 5 feet up the trellis. I had to keep up with their growth by supporting them along the way, and this spring, after a winter of dormancy, those peas sprung out of the ground like a fountain. I think transformation is like that too sometimes.
2. You win some, you lose some.
The strawberries I planted came with little green berries on them, one of which slowly turned first pink, then red in the sun. I watched this transformation and anticipated tasting the sweet little thing, the first product of my garden. Later that afternoon, I saw a little sliver of red was all that was left hanging off the plant, and realized that we must have four-legged company in our garden, because I’m pretty sure a slug couldn’t do that kind of damage in a few hours! Critters 1, Anchen 0. And so it goes.
3. Persistence is key
About a month after we first moved in to our house, our landlord came and hauled out a trailer-full of blackberry brambles from the back yard. Ever since, it’s been an ongoing give and take between us and the blackberries.
The blackberry has taught me a lot about persistence. It never seems to take my attacks with the clippers personally, it simply grows in another direction, popping up from behind the newly installed raised bed. When I start clearing brambles on one side of the shed, and fill the yard waste container with prickly green stalks, it simply grows out the other side in even greater proliferation
Maybe this is because it has more than one method of proliferation; the vines turn to roots when they touch soil, establishing outposts every few feet. Birds and animals eat the berries and scatter the seeds. The vines climb into the trees, sending down runners, and advance ever forward like a prickly green army.
What have you learned from your garden? Or, put another way, what has your garden taught you?