I'll bet that you have a secret garden. You may not realize it, but there's a place within you that holds the seeds for healing your heart and cultivating peace and joy; I call this the secret garden. I first discovered secret gardens during my travels to Europe. They popped in during conversations in French when I was talking with a man about my deep desires and dreams to write. He said, "Keep that to explore in your 'jardin secret'." I remember walking away and scratching my head. "What's a secret garden, anyway?!" I thought. I didn't think much about it until I traveled to an Italian-speaking area of Switzerland, and, in another deep conversation the language was different but the same advice arose. "Keep that to explore in your 'giardino segreto'."
Do I have a secret garden? I wondered. With some research I discovered that secret gardens first sprang up during the Middle Ages, that war-torn, plague-infested time of great social strife and upheaval. They grew behind protected walls where only a few people had keys. Secret gardens were places where monks, seekers, healers, and secret gardeners planted healing herbs, fruit trees, vegetables, and delicate flowers. These secret gardens often held a natural source of water. As I reflected I discovered that secret gardens are perfect symbols for the sacred space within us.
How to Find Your Secret Garden
My secret garden first started to appear to me in dreams. At first it showed up as a desert where nothing much grew, but as I began to cultivate my relationship with my soul-Self (who I call the "inner gardener"), trees in the secret garden of my dreams began to bud. Flowers blossomed. The more I cultivated my relationship with Her, my soul-Self, the more vibrant and live I became and my creative life blossomed. The physical world around me also changed. As I cleaned out my inner junk; weeded the inner garden; and kicked out pests like anger, envy, and jealousy, there was less drama in my life and I began to find more balance and equilibrium.
You can begin to become aware of your own secret garden and transform it into a garden of bliss by cultivating the inner landscape. The inner gardener is the wiser, higher Self who knows what we need and provides it at exactly the right time. The more we align with her, the closer we come to a harvest of joy. Her ways are mystical and magical. That inner gardener speaks to us through intuition, dreams, synchronicity, and symbols. She protects and guides us well when we pay attention, honor her, and act on the wisdom she brings.
Getting to Know Your Inner Gardener
Sometimes we may not recognize the presence of our wise inner gardener. The mind likes to take control and the physical body likes to have its desires met. But the wise inner gardener speaks to us in the still, subtle voice of the spirit and hearing her requires tuning in and aligning with our highest aspirations in order to hear her. She may warn about people not to associate with by bringing a dream or she might speak in a voice that comes through the heart. I have even had her stop me on a mountain path in the Alps as I was about to step on a viper; I felt a strong hand jerk me back, but there was no physical presence around me. My next step was about to fall on the poisonous serpent. A dream the same morning warned me to pay attention, but I ignored it. On a deeper level the serpent, for me, represented the kundalini energy and the need to use it with care and in appropriate ways.
If you'd like to explore your secret garden more and discover your bliss, here are some ways to experiment with:
Plant Seeds of Love. Thoughts are like seeds. If we set the intention to plant seeds of love in the inner garden of the spirit, we can begin to consciously cultivate them in daily life through paying attention to the mental dialogue. Are your thoughts kind, constructive, and loving as they go out to yourself and others? You may also want to consciously plant and cultivate seeds of peace, kindness, creativity, courage, and more.
- Cultivate Your Inner Landscape with Dreams and Symbols. The inner gardener, that wise, divine aspect of our Self, speaks to us through dreams. Often mental chatter and our usual way of reasoning and thinking makes it hard for deeper inspiration to come through. Dreams allow for messages to come through and can bring good guidance. If you use dreams, it's essential to attune to the highest and best. Surround yourself with protective, white light and say a prayer or a mantra of protection. Keep a note pad and pen beside your bed or a recorder and keep tract of the images and scenes that arise. Patiently begin to decode your personal dream symbols. Garden of Bliss explores some ways to do this.
- Develop a Solid Relationship with Your Inner Gardener. The inner gardener is our intuition. She gives guidance and teaches us the right direction—when we listen and act on what she offers. We are not separate from her, but she may appear in dreams and visions as separate and apart because we may feel we're not good enough or worthy enough to be one with her. She is the spark of the Divine within us; that Divine Self is wisdom itself. Sometimes it's hard to believe this. But when events begin to occur where we receive information, warnings, and guidance from her that turn out to be true and right, we begin to trust her, our soul-Self, more. The more we align with her and act on her guidance, the more that relationship deepens.
- Work to Stay Grounded. In cultivating the inner landscape and exploring spiritual life, it's easy to become ungrounded. Sometimes we don't want to be connected to this dirty, messy stuff of life, but being grounded is an essential part of doing spiritual work. Some ways to get out of one's head and get one's spirit back into the body include literally getting your hands dirty by potting plants, working in a garden outdoors, weeding a flowerbed, and walking barefooted on the ground. Hiking in a forest will help to bring you into alignment with natural beauty and harmony, and get you into your body.