Do you remember hearing about the controversial studies that show how plants that were told nice words and loving words grew better than those that were talked to harshly or negatively?
Which do I choose more often: to speak kindly or harshly to myself? Do I try to look for the good in that which is hard? Or do I choose to get mired in what is not going the way I want it to in my own life? Though I would love to write that I always choose the former and am always Miss Sunshine, sometimes I fall into the latter category. And how do I choose to nurture my inner artist, find time to grow joy, work on projects that might help inspire myself or others? How to do I (and all of us,) do that in challenging times? Well, I have no good answers except to say that I stumble forward the best I can and keep trying to build a sanctuary in my heart to grow joy and space and a connection for the divine and for what is most important to me in my world.
How do YOU create that sanctuary to reconnect and re-energize and recharge your own soul and your own connection to the important, to the heart of what really matters in your own life? How do you express this joy and connection in the world? Personally, sometimes I go to the ocean and feel the majesty of something in nature so much bigger than I am and so much larger than my own concerns. Sometimes I write in my journal and reconnect that way. I recently had a JOYFEST party focused on “Growing JOY,” and one of the things we did, in addition to talking and singing, enjoying music, connection and crafting, was to get into nature a bit.
We made miniature decorative terrariums because building and growing a terrarium is a bit like building, creating and growing a sanctuary in your heart. If you’re going to build a miniature terrarium, you need a glass jar or container with a wide lip, some sand (colored or plain,) some river rocks or gravel, soil and some pretty plant cuttings that you wish to grow in the soil.
The sand and rocks are for drainage and they go into the container in that order. Next comes the soil. And then the plants. We chose to use succulent cuttings. Succulents don’t need much water, but with proper care, the cuttings will take root in the soil and grow well in this small setting.
I was thinking of this as a metaphor for life. If I neglect the good foundation for drainage of stress or other things to roll off my back, then my own roots will not stay strong and grow. If I neglect the good soil of eating well, getting a good night’s sleep, stretching, exercising to the best of my ability and surrounding myself with people who are good influences, then my roots will not be nourished. If I neglect to water the “plant” of my mind, body, heart and soul with good, kind words that will help me to be a better person, then I will not thrive and be able to tend to the sanctuary in my heart.
Despite the internet and social media’s claims to have answers to how to best grow this place or “sanctuary” or plant in your heart for that which is divine and/or how to best take care of your heart and soul, or how to stay upbeat when life sends challenges your way, there are no easy, or one-size fits all, answers.
What do I myself do? I’m clumsy, just like everyone else, in this task. Sometimes it helps me to remember that my attitude towards that which feels hard to me, however legitimate the very real challenge is at the time, will make it easier or harder for me to cope or to move through it in the best way possible for my family and I. In other words, my attitude makes a difference and for me, even though I am not great at this task, I think that I cannot afford the luxury of a negative thought. But my way is not the way for everyone.
There are huge philosophical and religious tomes written about these matters of the heart and soul and what is truly our meaning and purpose here. I do not always choose to make a party out of something difficult, but I have been known to do that many times in my life and I did create a website and business called joyfestivalindustries.com dedicated to this mission! But it’s not for naught that I’m the one who makes JOYFEST parties and Happiness Rooms and Celebrate Life Soiree’s and “So, Tell Me Something Good!” parties and takes Science of Happiness classes online, etc. I’m the one who finds my choice to try to stay positive to be a challenging choice, so that is my “work” when I am daunted by a physical health or family or work or financial or other challenge…to metaphorically pick myself up, brush the dust off my knees and keep moving forward through the challenge in the best way possible for me. This is the most realistically positive way I myself can deal, given whatever the circumstances may be and I have heard others often saying this works for them as well.
As a wise teacher once taught me when something didn’t go the way I’d wanted it to, it’s not just “fake it ‘till you make it.” It’s real…attitude and the words we tell ourselves and the way we water the plant of our life (whether with water or vinegar,) about things will make a difference. It will grow the plant to be hardier and more resilient. My own personal Amy-sized-miniature-terrarium of life does best when I try to nurture that sanctuary for the divine in my heart.
If I, or you, can try to move away from words, work and ways of being that make our personal plant leaves shrivel and die and instead, choose more kindness and things that nurture that which we feel is sacred to us and more important than anything else, then we are on our way to building that sanctuary in our heart full of all that is good, all that is grounding and all that helps our own roots go deeper into good soil and grow in great ways.
Water your own garden and create that sanctuary for yourself. Then go there. Often!
How do you grow a sanctuary for that which is sacred, holy, or most important to you in your heart and in your home? Email [email protected] to let us know your ideas.