“Our mind is a field, in which every kind of seed is sown—seeds of compassion, joy, and hope, seeds of sorrow, fear, and difficulties.”
Emotions are living creatures that, without proper nursing techniques, they can overtake every aspect of our lives. Like any other living creatures, they thrive off of the external impacts and internal dialogues, good or bad. It took me the longest time to realize that whatever we decide to feed our minds will dictate the health of our emotions. And of course, there are many different kinds of emotions, joy, anger, jealousy, greed, excitement… yet we are not always conscious about the nutrients we choose to feed them.
True healing came to me last summer when I started gardening, I was going through a period of darkness and agony, battling so many thoughts sprouting at every angle. I couldn’t explain the pain, or the exhaustion, I just knew that my spirit was low. 2020 and 2021 were the difficult years that I’ve yet to fully recover from, one storm after another, which left me empty.
That was when I came across Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s teaching on “Our mind is a field, in which every kind of seed is sown—seeds of compassion, joy, and hope, seeds of sorrow, fear, and difficulties.” (Mindfulness Bell). My basic gardening skill taught me that seeds can only thrive with the right amount of sunlight, water, and nutrients. Reflecting on my rudimentary level of gardening, I became aware of my past actions, my choice of thoughts, and my intake of external influence.
Therapists are professional gardeners, they step into our minds and nurture the struggling seeds that we wish to flourish while clearing out the negative seeds that are exploding out of control.
But sometimes, we can’t tend to the garden on our own, we will sometimes need professional help to guide the way. Therapists are professional gardeners, they step into our minds and nurture the struggling seeds that we wish to flourish while clearing out the negative seeds that are exploding out of control.
My therapist, Minh, has helped me to discover the root cause of my people-pleasing tendency. It sounds simple on the surface, but one simple seeding that stemmed from a child seeking approval from her caretakers. Over time, it bloomed into a 26-year-old woman who is terrified of facing rejections. I realized that I was subconsciously providing nutrients to the seed by setting extremely high expectations for myself, hoping if I can be perfect then no rejections will come.
The expectation to strive for perfection is like sand slipping through our fingers, it cannot be attained. Yet when it is not met, I punished myself. Withholding my own self-love, self-compassion, and self-kindness. And Minh reminded me that when you can’t love yourself fully, you cannot love anyone else. That terrified me because I have many people to love, and this awareness is just the beginning of a long healing process.
This is very personal for me to share, but I hope someone reading this can relate, and if you need to, find the help that you need. There are so many stigmas about mental health, especially within certain cultures, where our parents are still denying the problem simply because they can’t see the physical symptoms. Sow and tend to your garden wisely, and don’t be afraid to seek help!
Thank you for reading my candid thoughts.