Are you an impatient gardener?

Or are you impatient in general?

I am.

Every morning I look at my plants to check if they have grown overnight. My hope is always the same: that they have doubled their size, or that they are in full blossoms…even if just yesterday they were a seed!

I used to feel really frustrated because Nature takes its time: just think to the millions of years that it took to shape the wonderful landscapes all around the Earth…

Way too long according to my expectations. Ha!

Generally speaking, I feel frustrated anytime things are slower than expected. Especially in the past, I wasn’t good at waiting: I couldn’t cope with the time needed for a garden to grow, or for a goal to be reached; I wanted my plants already mature, as I wanted my ambitions already satisfied.

I didn’t want to wait because I was convinced that waiting was a waste of time. I wanted to live somewhere in the future, to be satisfied and happy.

Such a dog’s life.

It took me reading some books and spending a lot of time with my plants to become patient and live (almost) without frustrations. Without getting angry or stressed because things can get slow or have a pause.

I have finally learned how to enjoy the journey without losing my perseverance.

How?

In three simple steps.

1. The Force awakens

I am a big fan of audiobooks because I can listen to them whenever I drive. And some days I spend quite a lot of time in my car. Listening to an audiobook makes me feel that I am not wasting my time: it’s a good way to read more books.

My favourite app for audiobooks is Audible because they have a large library with more than 200.000 titles.  Thanks to Audible I’ve read some really interesting books.

One of them is certainly ‘The practicing mind’, a book that explains how to achieve focus and discipline.

The author, Thomas M. Sterner,tells us that the Western mind is always restless, never content with the moment (does it sound familiar?). Especially when acquiring new skills or facing some challenges, we think that we’ll feel satisfaction once the goal is accomplished.

We think that happiness is somewhere in the future.

As a consequence, we don’t enjoy living in the present because we feel like something is missing. The present is not perfect as we have idealized it.

Things get really interesting when the author explains that we should consider every moment as perfect, using a flower as a metaphore:

“We make a major detour on the road of happiness when we adopt an idea of perfection. Perfection is frozen and stagnant and limited by nature. True perfection is limitless and always changing.

Look at a flower. At what point in a flower’s life from seed to full bloom does it reach perfection?

Is it perfect when it’s nothing more than a seed in your hand waiting to be planted? Or that it will ever be is there in that moment.

Is it perfect when it first start to germinate unseen under several inches of soil? This is when it displays the first signs of the miracle we call creation.

How about when it pokes its head through the surface and sees the face of the sun for the first time? All its energies have gone into reaching for this source of life, until this point it’s had nothing more than an inner voice telling which way to grow.

What about when it begins to flower? This is when its Individual properties are starting to be seen: the shape of the leaves, the number of blooms. All are unique to this one flower even among other flowers of the same species.

Or is it the stage of full bloom? The crescendo of all the energy and effort the flower expanded to reach this point in its life.

Let’s not forget its humble and quiet ending when it returns to the soil from where it came

At what point is the flower perfect? I hope you already know the answer…

It is always perfect.

It is perfect at being wherever it is and at whatever stage of growth it is in at that moment. It is perfect at being a seed when it’s placed into the ground. At that moment in time it is exactly what it’s supposed to be: a seed. Just because it has not have brightly color blooms doesn’t mean it is not a good flower seed.

When it first sprouts through the ground it is not imperfect because it displays only the color green.

At each stage of growth, from seed to full bloom and beyond, it is perfect at being a flower at that particular stage of a flower’s life.

A flower must start as a seed. And it will not budge one millimeter towards its potential grandeur of full bloom without the nourishment of water, soil, sun and also time. It takes time for all of these elements to work together to produce the flower”.

When I read this, I felt like I had a revelation: why shouldn’t I be like that flower?

Why shouldn’t I just live the present moment, acknowledging it as perfect?

Why shouldn’t I just stop worrying about the future and start enjoying things in this moment?

2. Inhale, exhale, repeat.

Once I learned that I should enjoy the present instead of hoping for a better future, I also had to learn how to stop my mind from constantly wandering off, running after thoughts and worries.

Mindfulness meditation helped me a lot.

Before you keep reading, let me tell you that I am not an expert at meditating at all. But I like Mindfulness because it doesn’ t require you to be an expert to have some benefits. If you are skeptical as I was, online there are millions of scientific articles about it. But if you are lazy, here the results of some studies that show how Mindfulness meditation can have a positive impact on different aspects of your life (click on the links if you want to know more):

HEALTH

An 8 week study has proved that Mindfulness Meditation helps you to manage better the symptoms of depression and anxiety. A research also demonstrates that a short program in mindfulness may increase immune function.

FOCUS

If you have problems with focus, research has shown that just a couple of weeks of Mindfulness meditation could already help to improve attention.

PERSONAL SKILLS

Mindfulness meditation can help you if you suffer from social anxiety, as shown in this study. Meditation is also good for developing empathy because it increases your sense of awareness of yourself and the surrounding world.

For practising I use an app for iphone called Headspace but it’s not free. If you are looking for a good free version, I would suggest Insight timer.

How does meditation work? Just take a seat and focus on your breathing.

That’s it!

3. Let’s get out

Once I learned that the present moment can be cool and how to stay focused on it, I tried to apply these new skills to my job. So I tried to have my sessions of meditation among my plants instead of on my couch.

For at least 10 minutes, I touched my plants, their leaves, their barks, the petals, their branches, focusing on my feelings. I have learned for example how beautiful and tender are the leaves of my Cotinus when they are opening, or how fresh feel the leaves of my Alocasia. What I have really learned is that plants are at ‘their best’ in every moment of their cycle.

And I am not impatient anymore, because I really enjoy every second I am spending with them.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the article so far, and I am very curious about your experience with patience, so why don’t you drop me a couple of lines in the comments section below

Ciao!

 

Salva