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Sandra Ingerman

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How to Cultivate a Rich Inner Garden

Posted: 08/31/11 06:45 PM ET

Many of us attach the experience of joy to what is happening in our outer world rather than allowing joy to flow through us. When we attach our joy or any feeling -- such as love -- to outer events we become dependent on what is happening outside of us in determining how we feel on a particular day.

And the truth of the matter is, when we do this the good feelings of joy, love, wonder and harmony will be fleeting, as conditions of life change moment to moment. Safety and security also fall into this principle, for as our outer world changes one day you feel safe, and the next day you do not. One day you might feel secure in your job, and then the economy changes and your job security might now be at risk. You might start to feel as if you are riding a rollercoaster of emotions.

As the world continues to change, transition and evolve we must engage in a deep inner exploration and find joy, love, safety, security, etc. that permanently live inside of us and are not dependent on the changing outer conditions.

Sounds good, doesn't it? But it's not always so easy to do. I don't have "a recipe" to do this, but I can tell you that setting an intention is key, and surrendering to spirit is also important.

We can see the laughter and the brilliance of light in the eyes of indigenous people who might be living in extreme poverty with nothing tangible that we might associate with happiness. That joy, laughter and light are coming from the depth of an inner well. It is a joy, for life itself with no conditions. This joy comes from having cultivated a very rich inner garden.

It is important to notice, work with and deepen the minute to minute experiences that tap us into our inner well and garden of joy, love, safety and security. Take a walk and just experience the beauty of nature -- independent of what is happening environmentally. No matter what is happening the planet is still filled with great beauty.

Think about and reflect on the simple joys of life that are not dependent on what is happening in your life. Sit with this principle, meditate on it, reflect on it, take walks holding your questions and notice if you can begin to find some doorway into the inner core of your being that experiences safety, security, joy and love independent of what life brings to you.

As our lives and the planet keep going through intense changes many of us have been reflecting on the meaning of life. I think at some point we get to a place of feeling that focusing on the outer world does not create happiness. We realize that by collecting more in the material world does not create meaning and purpose. As we grow and evolve, we start to see that true meaning and wealth lies within. I wrote about this in "How to Thrive in Changing Times: Simple Tools to Create True Health, Wealth, Peace, and Joy for Yourself and the Earth."

As I keep going within and experiencing the wealth of my inner garden, I come to a place of finding meaning in being a channel of love and light -- for what else is there as you evolve in your life's journey?

Here is a practice that you can work with:

  • Put on some nice, relaxing music. Pick some music that has no lyrics that you love to listen to. The music will help to travel within to your inner garden.
  • Lay down or sit in a chair in a room where you will not be disturbed for about 20 minutes. You might want to close the curtains or blinds to darken the room. As you listen to the music imagine yourself traveling within to your inner garden.
  • You can ask to meet a master gardener who can help you inspect your garden.
  • First, experience yourself merging with the earth in your garden. Observe how healthy the soil is by examining the health and strength of the flowers and plants that are growing out of the earth. This will give you some clues to the care that your inner garden requires.
  • Next, observe the seeds that you have already planted through life that contain the thoughts, words, attitudes and beliefs that are growing into strong plants in your garden. Experience what plants need to be weeded out. Start to plant seeds of love, inspiration and hope for yourself and the planet. Imagine the words you use and your daily thoughts as seeds. Plant the seeds you want to see manifested in the world.
  • Next, imagine yourself planting small areas of your garden with seeds of good memories and what you are grateful for. Water the soil so the seeds can take root.

After you have experienced your inner garden just be still, listening to the music. Reflect on the experience you just had. Set an intention to continue to visit your inner garden so that you can continue to nurture the soil, so it becomes rich and fertile. Set an intention to continue to plant the positive seeds you would like to see grow into strong and healthy plants that will produce a true feeling of inner wealth and joy.

When you feel ready, bring yourself back in the room. Take some deep breaths. Experience an inner feeling of peace and an inner smile and let your own internal light flow through you.

Life will continue to bring change. Cultivating a rich inner garden will help you to stay centered and harmonious in the midst of change.

Sandra Ingerman, M.A., is the author of eight books, including Soul Retrieval; Medicine for the Earth; Shamanic Journeying: A Beginner's Guide; How to Heal Toxic Thoughts; How to Thrive in Changing Times; and Awakening to the Spirit World: The Shamanic Path of Direct Revelation. Sandra teaches workshops internationally on shamanic journeying, healing, and reversing environmental pollution using spiritual methods. Sandra is a licensed marriage and family therapist, a professional mental health counselor, and a board-certified expert on traumatic stress. To order Sandra's books and to read her blog, visit her on Red Room or at sandraingerman.com.