As we regain our freedom to travel and to meet people, it’s exciting but also nervy. We’re all out of practice, and now we have to keep assessing whether our own covid policies (on masks, distancing and so on) match the people around us. This blog explores how gardening parallels can help us in this transition.
There’s a useful analogy here with caring for young plants. Many seeds aren’t planted in their final location: they start out in a small pot or seed tray in rich compost, maybe in a greenhouse or propagator. There’s a stage known as hardening off where you help your seedlings to toughen up to face the challenges of the outdoor climate, such as frosts and pests.
The aim of the hardening-off process is to improve the seedlings’ resilience gradually, and avoid a sudden shock which might overwhelm them. So for a period of time, the young plants are put outdoors for a few hours to get some sunshine, but brought back into shelter overnight.
I’d recommend a similar process for us humans as we adjust to our new freedoms: sally forth cautiously, in stages, with plenty of time to look after yourself and rebuild resources.
My Natural Happiness gardening analogies can also help you draw on renewable, clean energy sources to keep you going in these exciting, expansive times. The alchemists saw four elements as providing energy for all forms of life: earth, air, fire and water. Let’s explore how this works for plants and for people:
- Earth: Healthy soil gives vitality and physical support to plants. For people, healthy food and exercise can do the same. And just as organic gardens get natural fertility from compost, we humans can grow by composting our negative feelings: see more on my website here: naturalhappiness.net/composting-the-upsides-of-your-downsides.
- Air: Did you know that Earth’s atmosphere is 78% nitrogen? So plant growth is fuelled by air. The word ‘inspiration’ is from the Latin spiritus, meaning breath, air or soul. A sense of vision, serving the greater good, can be a powerful energy source for us.
- Fire: The sun’s warmth for plants is like mental energy for people: we need the fire of creativity, the flashes of intuition, and the heat of determined concentration.
- Water: Emotions for people are like water for plants: they are nourishing and flowing, too little dries us up, but too much swamps us.
There’s far more to this analogy than I can cover in one blog. Using natural energy sources is Seed Two in the Seven Seeds of Natural Happiness, which are explored on my website, and are the basis for my forthcoming book: The Gardener’s Way To Grow Your Own Happiness. If you want to explore in detail where your personal energy comes from, and how you use it, there’s a Personal Energy Audit on the website.
The months ahead should be exciting, but probably sometimes demanding too. Aim to centre yourself regularly by a bit of quiet time in a garden or green space, where you can use this analogy to nourish your roots and cultivate your own natural happiness.