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The Mind Garden

"If any one trusted your body to the first man he met, you would be indignant, but yet you trust your mind to the chance corner, and allow it to be disturbed and confounded if he revile you; are you not ashamed to do so?"
-- Epictetus in The Enchiridion, verse 28

All kinds of seeds get dropped into our minds every day. Each time we see an advertisement, hear a song, read a book, talk with a friend, a seed planted in the fertile soil of our minds. Every bit of input is another seed. Many seeds don't take hold at all, and pass unnoticed, but some seeds do begin to grow in our consciousness. It is our job, then, to be diligent gardeners and decide which fresh seedlings to help grow, which to set aside for another season's growth, and which to uproot. If we aren't deliberate with this, we will get all kinds of harvests that we may or may not have wanted. Some may even be harmful to us, the people around us, or the other plants we want to cultivate.

In order to know which plants are good to grow in a vegetable garden, we have to understand the strengths and limitations of the garden. Some plants grow well together while some will strangle each other. A specific type of soil may be good for one plant but unhealthy for another. We also need to have a harvest goal when deciding which seeds to allow to take root and tend to. If we want pumpkins and corn in autumn, we won't get them by planting tomato and blueberry seeds in spring. When it comes to a mind-garden, we similarly need to know who we are, or the layout and capabilities of our garden, and who we want to be, or what we want our harvest to be. We need to know our strengths and limitations so that we can choose goals that are attainable for us. We need to understand what we believe so that our goals align with our values. And we need to have a destination, a personal harvest, in mind so that we can plan out the steps along the way and make sure that we are starting with ideas and plans that will get us to our goal. If I aspire to become a jockey, learning to play the violin won't help me get there.

We need to understand ideal growing conditions for any garden as well. A vegetable garden requires shade for some plants and sun for others, lots of water for some plants and a drier space for others. Likewise, we may require audio materials or visual, more independent processing and learning or more time learning directly with others.

By knowing who we are and who we want to be, and understanding the way that we grow best, we make sure that our growth is as fruitful as possible.