There are no clouds to be seen this am on our horizon on the Cote d’Azur.  The sun’s golden rays light up our bay, setting us up for another brand new day.

To-day is national almond day, a day all to itself!  You can read about it on the Foodimentary blog.   I think I will have some toasted almonds for flavour and some raw in their skins, with my muesli, grated pear and apple juice this am.  Check out the nutritional value of organic almonds on Zel’s Vegan blog. Isn’t it so great that we can share so freely the results of other peoples passions for life….we are very fortunate people.

Day 16.  No coffee!  I so wanted a cup this am, I came very close to making it.  All that stopped me was that I have gone so many days, and to give in at this stage would be a sore disappointment to me.  The dialogue goes on and on in the monkey mind at times like these.  It’s part of the course….

How do we practice self-love?

Imagine that you are about to design the garden of your dreams.  You take a tour of public, private and specialist (cacti, rose etc.) gardens in your locality, one by one, taking photographs, writing notes on plant names, locations, nutrition and care, drawing sketches and talking to their owners.  You research online, you buy books and you consult with garden designers and architects.  Your mind is swimming with ideas.  You have a very generous budget and a 16,000 square metres (about 4 acres) of space.  A blank canvas in the heart of a city.

You want to create an oasis of peace, delight, relaxation, play, wonderment, excitement and curiosity.  Two months later and you have your drawing and a list of plants and trees that you have chosen for their shape, height, colour, foliage, texture and smell.  The soil test results are back and you now know which plants will go where.  You know the sun loving plants and those that are not.  You know the plants that are indigenous to your locality.  You have planned an herb and vegetable garden, a greenhouse, a patio area near the house, a meditation quiet space under a tree, a play area for visiting children and a swing for adults of all weights and sizes.  A water garden, a tennis court, a garden shed with an outdoor living room are all part of the plan for your magical garden behind your house.

The landscape crew arrive.  Day by day you watch as the shape takes place as the structures are built, the irrigation system goes in, the soil is dug, and nutrient-rich top-soil of varying kinds is poured in different parts of the garden.  Four weeks later and the stage is set for the plants to go in.  You work alongside members of your family, friends and the landscape team to plant the plants, flowers, vegetables and trees you have chosen.  You are all working of your planting plan you meticulously researched.  There is a great feast when it’s all done and the neighbours join in the celebration of this new garden-scape.  Your heart is full of joy and you marvel at the change of what is now and what was a street of old broken down houses.  You have achieved a complete transformation!

Day by day, week by week, year by year, you tend that garden with love and care, moving plants about that are getting crowded and or giving them away.  Every Friday evening some friends, family and neighbours bring a dish, a bottle of wine, conversation and laughter for supper to delight in your garden.  Your life is a celebration of getting to know each plant, flower, vegetable, herb, fruit and tending to their needs with love and care.  What you don’t know about the plants and the conditions they grow in, you study and research.

Ten years pass and the garden is lush, vibrant with colour and full of life.  Birds, bees and small animals come to live in your garden.  And the sun rises and sets each day lighting up and turning down the light and heat on your creation.  The rain comes and the seasons pass one by one.  You made this happen and you live in its glory.

Imagine doing the exact same exercise in your mind-scape.  Imagine making decisions to shift and change stuff about, weeding what is no longer necessary and growing with assistance ‘stuff’ you want to bask in and enjoy.  Imagine to-days sunrise coming up over your mind-scape what would it illuminate.  At some stage in your life you take the initiative to take your remote control and customise it to your life.  You tend to your mind-scape and life-scape in the same way as you tend your garden:

You would not feed your plants just any old food.  But yet you do it to your body.

Everyday a plant exercises below and above the soil in its own particular way.  Do you exercise every day?

When a plant is not doing well where it’s planted, you move it to where it will do better.  When you are not doing well in mind, body or spirit what do you do about it?

You buy or grow from seed new perennials every year?  What part or parts of you do you ‘grow/develop/tend to’ every year?

You prune plants every year or every other year or by the season.  What thoughts deeds or actions in your mind-scape do you prune?

The garden-scape is looked after by you and Mother Nature.  Who is looking after your mind-scape and your life? and how?  The way you care for yourself, your home, your family, friends, neighbours, work colleagues and strangers is a reflection of your own mind-scape.   Have a think about that. Consider and observe how you are with others: relaxed, controlling, interested, caring, sensitive, manipulating, joyous, indifferent, loving, nervous, challenged, curious, silent, excited, sad, melancholy, worried, selfish, anxious, happy, bored, empathic,gossipy, judgmental, compassionate, bossy, indignant childish, etc.  Different situations lead to different behaviours, but overall what is your expression?   If there are people that bring out in you what you love most, doesn’t it make sense to be in their company and visa versa. It keeps the self-love glowing.

Spring is coming: it’s a great time to tend to your mind-scape!

I propose a mind-scape map exercise:

Take a sheet of paper, write down all that goes on in your mind, what occupies it: the people, actions, thoughts, events, experiences, behaviours, dreams, imaginings and maybe do it for a few days and be surprised!

Check in with yourself that this is an honest list; it is for you no one else. You are gardening your mind-scape! Or as some say mining your mid-scape and then gardening it.

Give a % to each item on your list of the time, energy and space it takes up in your mind.

When you have the list done, draw a circle and divide it it into the %’s as per the items on your list.  Or represent it in a way that works for you.

Look at the drawing/map.  Observe and consider if this is the way you want your mind-scape to be?

To help you through this, imagine a garden that has a great big old oak tree, it takes up most of the garden, there’s a lawn and a border of flowers and maybe a water lily pond, or it’s a wild garden where there is no apparent order, or a garden that is somewhere in between.  Which one is like yours?

6.  If it’s not what you want then how do you go about changing it?  You usually have the answers!

This is an exercise in exploring self-love …tending your inner garden.

During the next week, observe and consider (but don’t judge) other people’s gardens and see how it reflects who they are or not!  What parts do you like and not like?  How would you do it different?

Does what we perceive on the outside of life, reflect what goes on inside our minds and vice versa

Is there a lot of acting/performance going on every day as we encounter others and observe ourselves?  How authentic are we?  Are we deceiving ourselves and others or are we very aware of who we are and what we project?

Self-love is a journey with your Possible Self every day.

Enjoy your day and keep on smiling as you tend your mind-scape.

“Everything is based on mind, is led by mind, is fashioned by mind. If you speak and act with a polluted mind, suffering will follow you, as the wheels of the oxcart follow the footsteps of the ox.

“Everything is based on mind, is led by mind, is fashioned by mind. If you speak and act with a pure mind, happiness will follow you, as a shadow clings to a form.”  Buddha

“See, the human mind is kind of like … a pinata. When it breaks open, there’s a lot of surprises inside. Once you get the pinata perspective, you see that losing your mind can be a peak experience.”  [The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe]  Jane Wagner

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”  Albert Einstein

“The mind is its own place, and in itself, can make heaven of Hell, and a hell of Heaven.”   John Milton

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