Perhaps it was the soaked soil after several days of straight down rainfall that motivated me, but it was the first time in 2 summers that I got into the garden to weed. Though I love my work, teaching 14 weekly yoga classes and offering yoga therapy does not leave much time for gardening. I used to do some pulling and transplanting in spring then leave things like watering and expansion to Mother Nature. The motto was “only the strong survive”. In spite of all the years of thoughtful tending, and in a relatively short time, the 16-year-old garden has morphed into a forbidden jungle. What were clearly marked flagstone pathways have perennials of all sorts growing in the cracks over the stones. One particularly invasive ground cover strangled out some favorite flowers. Certain plants that are tall and strong still manage to bloom, but it is officially the “in spite of me” garden.
Squatting in the soft rain with soaked gloves and mosquitos buzzing made me realize how much life is like a garden. Low maintenance is preferred and something grows even in complete neglect. There are still good seeds in there somewhere, they just get overtaken when we stop working. But there is no such thing as no maintenance. When you can no longer see the path, it is hard to take the next step.
Sometimes we don’t see the work that someone else puts in. My neighbor has what appears to be several acres of natural, unkempt woods. Every spring, he spends hours in the thick of forest floor clearing out garlic mustard and Buckthorn. Inner work is like weeding. You need to be alone in a sacred place similar to the garden or woods. Being in that space encourages transition and growth; yet, you will feel uncomfortable and in the dark at times. And it will seem as if no one else appreciates the amount of effort you put forth.
It is said that yoga therapy is waste removal; substitute ‘weed’ for ‘waste’. If you pull enough weeds, the light will touch the things that are already planted that you want to develop. In removing the weeds, you are also clearing space for new seeds to plant themselves…even if it is in the cracks.