Today is Mental Health Day 2017. I'd like to dedicate this post to everyone who has ever struggled with mental health issues; and to those beautiful souls who support people struggling in this area.
Recently, we've had the privilege of moving onto a beautiful piece of land. In my exploration of the gardens I found some dried-up old seed pods - I had a hunch they were some kind of bean. I was on the verge of throwing them away when I decided to plant them and see if they would grow. I had an empty pot on the deck so I threw them in there and gave them some water. Sure enough, in a very short period of time I saw green shoots peeking through the soil. Now, just a few weeks later, this is what has happened!
So I was sitting on the deck this morning, looking at my beans and thinking about Mental Health Awareness Day. It occurred to me that the creative genius of our humanity is that we have the ability to make something beautiful and good out of something old and scabby and broken.
Let me explain. Everyone has things that have happened to them or things that they have done that they would like to toss away on the garbage heap - like my old bean pod. Often we would like to forget these things (because they're painful to look at); so we go to huge lengths to cover them up and pretend they don't exist. But they do exist, and the more we try to avoid them the bigger they get.
So each time an "old bean-pod" surfaces we have a choice. We can stuff it back down keep trying to pretend it doesn't exist; or we can hold it gently and kindly, examine it; and do the following:
Plant those beans in the soil of tenderness and courage. Tenderness to be kind to yourself and courage to go to the places you are afraid to go to.
Water the beans with tears as you grieve. As you move through sadness and pain, it leaves the soil fertile for new things to grow.
Pull out any weeds that threaten to choke the new growth. Capture those negative thoughts with which you criticize and condemn yourself. Throw them on the rubbish heap - they have no place in your new garden. The more attention you pay to tending your garden, the easier it is to keep it weed-free!
Enjoy the process! Yes, it takes effort and sometimes you have to get your hands dirty, but there is also beauty in each stage. Make sure you notice everything! Let yourself get excited and celebrate each new sign of growth.
Enjoy the fruits of your garden. All of a sudden you'll look back and find that the things that used to cause you pain don't anymore. The thing that happened is still there but it no longer has the power to ruin your day. Not only that, but the process you have been on has given you wisdom and strength. You're more compassionate and less judgmental with yourself and others. You're able to see joy in things both big and small. When challenges come, you know you can handle them. You have hope. You have life.
Today I encourage you to pause, breathe and notice something beautiful that is in or around you right this moment.
If you are struggling in the area of Mental Health I send you my warmest thoughts. Please don't walk this journey alone. I encourage you to reach out to those around you who are trained to guide you through this. Take some hope with you today - there is life on the other side of this; and no matter how powerless you feel, you have within you the creative genius to turn this struggle into something beautiful and good.
P.S. Here are some links that you can check out if you are struggling and need some support: