Have you ever planted a seed? Carefully crafted a hole in the ground, planted it, and watered it every day? Have you ever felt that excitement, the anticipation of the moment the first leaves unfold on a warm, sunny day?
And then, after days and days, nothing happens? Sure, all the weed pierces through, happy with all the care and protection you offered. But none of the leaves of your beloved walnut pit.
You continue with watering, watching, weeding. But after weeks, you give up. Your planting program failed, the walnut is infertile, you move on to a new plan.
Too soon. While you were watching, weeding, watering, the walnut pit sprouted in the deep, dark safety of the earth. Your carefully crafted gardening plan slowly softened the hard shell. The roots started to dig deeper, the leaves started to reach for the light. And just before it popped up, you stopped with your care and protection, and the precious plant-to-be died, before it could manifest and grow into the magnificent walnut tree it was meant to be.
A friend complained that this mindfulness thing, this sitting meditation didn’t help at all. She suffered just as much from restlessness, depression, anxiety, and frustration. Hell, yeah, she even yelled more than before. She was done sitting on a cushion and observing her breath. It didn’t help at all.
Thich Nhat Hanh invites us to keep practicing mindfulness, joy, and compassion, even if we don’t see results right away. Some seeds in our store consciousness take a long time to sprout and grow into their potential. Some seeds are protected by such a hard shelf, that it takes patience and commitment, before the rain and the warmth of the earth finally help it sprout and grow up. Some seeds have been watered for so long, that their roots are strong, and they are firmly grounded in your habit energy.
The path of mindfulness, joy, and compassion is not about results, expecting peace, and opposing anger, depression, jealousy, and anxiety. The path is about loving to be a gardener and taking care of all the plants that manifest in our mind consciousness. Gently, patiently, and with delight. Looking at all the plants with a sense of wonder. “Oh, this is what anger looks like… I understand… Gosh, now I get what my neighbor is feeling…” “Ah, this is what craving feels like… My goodness, that’s what my friend must experience when she can’t stop drinking…”
In these moments of openness, acceptance, and curiosity, we can enjoy tending to our gardening with non-attachment and non-aversion, and trust that the innate qualities of love, life, and light will manifest in their own time.
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