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  • Writer's pictureDympna Weil, MD

My Garden of Gratitude

It is Spring time.

And I am planting my garden of gratitude.

This is not a new or original concept.

But I am being very intentional with what I am planting this season.

Let me explain.

I am grateful beyond measure.

Grateful for my growing capacity to be kind to myself even when it is hard.

Even when I'm struggling.

Our human brains have a hard time allowing our very human imperfections.

We focus on what we have done wrong, how things have not gone well.

This is how our beautiful brains work.

In small doses it can be useful.

Focusing on what could be better can enable us to improve.

Can allow for growth.

But left untended, unchecked, these thoughts can grow out of control-

much like weeds in a garden- and can commandeer the landscape...

stealing the precious nutrients from the beautiful plantings

you have intentionally sought to grow there.

Thoughts of self-criticism, self-judgement, berating, self-ridicule...

Imagine these are the weeds in your mind's garden.

They just appear and grow effortlessly, disguise themselves to fit in.

They require some effort for us to notice them and

then some effort to consciously weed them out, quite literally.

Because those weeds - those thoughts - they take up space in my mind's garden.

They siphon the water and nutrients from the soil and

Leave less available for what it is I am trying to grow.

Interestingly, as I consciously began cultivating more gratitude in my life

I noticed the quality of my mental garden was richer.

The soil of my mind did not support the growth of those weeds anymore -

at least, not as much.

I had more of an awareness, I noticed them

and I could choose to allow them to be there

or to move the weeds out of the garden with that awareness.

It is harder to find room for berating, fear, judgment or self-criticism to grow -

when gratitude is the milieu of the garden.

Finding gratitude in the external may come with a little less resistance

and may be more accessible to us.

People often use gratitude journals as a place to begin.

Perhaps it is easier to find with some practice by

noticing in the outside world.

Moving from the tangible to the intangible.

Using our senses.

I am grateful for that sunny day.

For the smell of rain.

I am grateful for my home, my family.

I am grateful for my lovies' hugs.

I am grateful for my family's patience.

Grateful for their compassion.

Their understanding.

Their kindness.

Their love.

From my vantage point, I can see and FEEL gratitude

generated from sources outside of myself -

from all the little and big things that bring joy to my life.

Just from their very existence.

Those glorious seeds are planted in the garden of my mind.

And once they begin to germinate, in fertile soil that is sustained

by openness and awareness -

hope, love, & joy begin to awaken.

From there, perhaps we can consider turning to the internal.

I can notice and be grateful for my strong legs that have allowed me to Irish dance,

my hands that have delivered hundreds of babies,

my heart which feels so deeply.

I am grateful for the challenges I grew up with,

the lessons -though hard- that have allowed me

to become the woman I am now.

I am grateful that when I needed support to help me in my life - be it infertility,

PTSD after medical litigation, or more recent neurologic/vestibular diagnoses -

I had the strength and courage to ask for help...

and then to assemble a team who would get me well -

physicians, mental health providers, coaches, and the support of family & friends.

I am grateful for my own patience,

my own kindness, compassion, & understanding.

I am grateful for my own grace and love.

When gratitude dwells in our own hearts, for ourselves,

it is harder to find room for berating.

It is harder to find room for lots of other space occupying thoughts or emotions

that could metastasize our mind's garden and do us no good.

When you allow gratitude to grow,

it takes the place of those vile weeds

like berating, self-criticism, fear, shame and self-flagellation.

Because love is expansive and blooms widely

and flourishes in the soil of gratitude.

It is Spring time.

And I am planting my garden of gratitude.

What are you planting this season?

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