I have always wanted a garden. My house at the beach has a small balcony with a couple of potted plants, but it’s not the same as a bit of land. There is a lovely community garden in our neighbourhood that I’ve always meant to sign up for, but somehow never quite got around to. One year I missed the deadline (by a day!), the next I had completely forgotten it… but last summer I decided it was time to commit to my dream. So I highlighted the date in my calendar, filled in an application form and just like that, got awarded a garden patch. It’s only fifteen square meters, but I’m happy as can be. It’s just marvelous to put some seeds in the ground and watch them grow. Did you know you can grow your own garlic just by putting a clove into the earth? We are gonna plant flowers for bees and other insects, veggies and fragant herbs. Right now the tomatoes are enjoying the warmth of our miniature green house. What a delight to wake up every morning and see how much they’ve grown!
I sit down on a bench overlooking the lake and watch the turtles basking in the sunlight on this first day of spring. Small ripples move over the water towards the bank. Everywhere around me the birds are chirping. How I enjoy the quietness of nature! It makes me feel completely at ease. Why, I wonder, is it so hard for me to let myself be? Instead of following my own rhythm, I keep falling into the same trap of not accepting myself and respecting my needs. I want so much to be like everyone else, to go to a cool festival, meet new people, stay up late, join in the fun… except that it’s not fun for me. A tiny fly lands on my hand as I’m writing in my notebook. What a perfect creature he is. I wonder if he longs to be in the water with the turtles? Probably not, he seems quite content to be just the way he is. So why can’t I? Being different in itself isn’t the problem, it’s wanting to be something I’m not and the frustration that comes with it, that is causing this tension. Now breathe, relax, let go…
Autumn is a time when the leaves start to change colour. As they start to whirl down one by one, they remind us that it’s time to take a step back and slow down. The endless summer nights long gone, and with every day the evenings get a bit darker. This season shows us how beautiful it is to let things go. I always think that means that it’s a perfect time to curl up on the sofa with a good book, warm and cosy inside, and allow myself to rest. But letting go is also an active process. It asks that you release your hold on things that no longer serve you and that you restore your equilibrium. So whenever I fall into a state of slumber, I remind myself that it’s important to keep doing the things that give me new energy. Whether it is writing in my journal, going for a long, beautiful walk in the woods, or doing a gentle meditation practice down by the river.
Retreats are wonderful things. I mean the ones where a bunch of people go to a beautiful location for an intensive experience of something or other, with lots of togetherness. I’ve been on quite a few. From summer art camps to meditation/yoga/martial arts retreats across Europe. Now I’m finally ready to stop forcing myself to sign up for them. You see, being in a group drains my energy and if I’m deprived of the time I need to restore that energy, I get ill. Surrounded by so many happy campers, I’ve always felt there must be something wrong with me. If only I would be stronger, less sensitive, more relaxed, I would be able to keep up with the others. But there’s nothing wrong with me. Where does it say that growth (or enlightenment) can only be found in this intensive group setting? I understand now that just because something is good, it does not automatically mean that it is good for me. To each her own way and her own prayer. Or as a beautiful voice once whispered in my ear: you only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. For me that is doing a little practice down by the river every day.
As a child I was very intuitive. I instintictively knew things, and often had premonitions. But growing up my intuition got drowned out by other voices. Being an analytic philosopher didn’t help. Because I couldn’t frame any of it in logical terms, I didn’t know how to explain it. My inner voice was still there, telling me things, but I no longer listened to it. Einstein once said: “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.” I was a living example of that. But last year I read the beautiful book A Still, Small Voice by Echo Bodine. Once I embraced my inner voice, it became louder. Sometimes it’s so loud that I find myself shouting back: “I hear you, I hear you!” I guess it wants to make sure I never ignore it again. Now that I’m learning to trust my intuition, life is much simpler. Things just happen without effort. Not only did it guide me to the sweetest creature, I found a new home within two days. For the first time in my life I no longer seek advice from others to make decisions. Why would I? I have my own inner wisdom.