It felt like an early autumn morning as I walked out on to the deck after a night of storms. The remnants of the coastal storm had brought some welcome relief from the heat along with overcast skies. However, one glance at the thicket of trees filled with green leaves was enough to bring me back to summer. It was going to be a great outside day. Perhaps I would work in the garden and pull weeds in the flower beds, I mused.
My musing turned to three hours of first removing the overgrown grasses on both sides of the fence, and then working around the rose bushes on the weeds. Why do these weeds keep showing up, particularly in a six-foot portion of the flower beds? I know that I have put down landscaping fabric (weed barrier) and covered it with layers of river rock over the years. What’s missing?
As I dug into the six-foot portion with my special tool that helps me extract the weeds from the roots, I noticed that I wasn’t hitting any fabric beneath the rocks. Aha. Mystery solved, or so I thought. I now remembered that I had run out of landscape fabric when in that six-foot portion when I did the flower bed project a few years ago. No wonder the two rose bushes in that portion would always be out-shone by the ones that bloomed in the adjacent twelve-foot portion that does have the weed barrier, and a lot less weeds.
A single shortcut taken by me three years ago, and I have spent an inordinate number of hours paying for it in maintenance and lack of enrichment in that part of the garden. I essentially left the door open for the weeds to create ‘poverty’, right next door to the ‘wealthiest’ part of the flower bed. I felt like the farmer who keeps watering his fields while the back-stops on his sluice gates are left open. Do you ever feel that way in life, in your spiritual practice?
I felt like that for years. My progress, my heart’s growth would happen in fits and starts. I did a lot of reading, which I still do, because I love to read. I spent a lot of time and learnt a lot in years of my visits to the local temple. I still do. I rarely missed an opportunity to attend day(s)-long retreats with spiritual Gurus visiting town. That didn’t happen over the past year, but I look forward to them again. And yet, something was missing. The aspect of long-term enrichment of the heart and soul remained elusive. I didn’t feel like I could call-up deep inner peace, silence, stillness, and such, at a moment’s notice. And then something changed.
I decided to try a new meditation practice. My ‘trainer’ asked me for a favor. “Make a commitment to practice for ninety days.” Ninety days? I had been practicing on and off by myself for years. Ninety days was going to be a walk in the garden, weeds and all! And so it began. Morning practice. Evening cleaning (weeding!). Night-time remembrance. Repeat next day. Weekly ‘deep cleaning’ (weeding!). Slowly, days turned to weeks, which turned to months. It has been over four years. Why am I still practicing?
My practice makes me feel enriched. Every morning – okay, more mornings than not – I feel like a kid in a candy store as I sit for the morning meditation. What new treasures am I going to discover today? In the evening, as I do the inner weeding, I prepare for the dreamless sleep that is going to come after bedtime remembrance. More enrichment follows. Some days I feel like I am immersed in all this wealth at random moments during the day. I can carry my peace with me because I feel like I have access to a secret treasury.
Except that it wasn’t a secret. All it took was wondering, asking the right questions, waiting for the answers, and when offered the help of a new practice, accepting the invitation to make a small commitment. It was like deciding to fix that six-foot piece of missing fabric, and see if the weeds would stop taking the roses’ bloom away next season. It was learning that enrichment isn’t about accumulating a wealth of practices, but more about doing that One practice which consistently gives us great joy, peace, harmony and whatever makes our hearts glow with purpose.
What is that enrichment practice going to be for you? If you are already practicing, you are already on the path to enrichment unlimited. If you aren’t, then pause and consider. Ask some questions. Be open to the answers. And keep sight of the knowing that you, just like anyone else, deserve to be enriched beyond your wildest dreams.
This is your time. Don’t shy away. Be still. Listen.
P.S. Join us for our weekly conversation with the #SpiritChat community on twitter, Sunday July 11 at 9am ET / 2pm UTC / 630pm India. I know that you have the ability to enrich someone with your experience and insights. Come share with us. Namaste – @AjmaniK
Let’s make no mistake – weeds and thorns contribute to enrichment too!