A Guide for Mind Gardening

July 30, 2013 0 Comments
Go to your fields and your gardens, and you shall learn that it is the pleasure of the bee to gather honey of the flower,  But it is also the pleasure of the flower to yield its honey to the bee.  For to the bee a flower is a fountain of life,  And to the flower a bee is a messenger of love,  -Kahlil Gibran

Go to your fields and your gardens, and you shall learn that it is the pleasure of the bee to gather honey of the flower,
But it is also the pleasure of the flower to yield its honey to the bee.
For to the bee a flower is a fountain of life,
And to the flower a bee is a messenger of love, -Kahlil Gibran

Gardening as a metaphor for taking care of one’s mind draws a rich comparison.  In traditional soil gardening, as well as Mind Gardening, there are logical steps to harvest.  We  break ground, till the soil, select the seedlings, plant, water and fertilize.  In time, we harvest the rewards of our hard work.

Why invest time in our mind’s garden?  Empirical data suggests that at around 50 years old, the brain starts to “shrink”, or lose some of the connectivity between brain cells.  Synapses and chemical receptors weaken and shrink resulting in varying degrees of memory loss, slower mental processing speed and other cognitive deterioration.  It makes a lot of sense to find ways to improve grey matter, grow new synapses, and improve cognitive function.

We are fortunate that recent scientific studies* provide a blueprint for stalling or reversing some of these declines.

Breaking ground in a Mind Garden is the recognition that we don’t have to consign ourselves to brain deterioration. In this single realization lies the opportunity to commit to new habits.

Tilling the soil requires finding new and captivating activities that will enrich our brains.

Selecting the seedlings.  We have help in our selection process as several universities including Harvard Medical School, the Universities of Arizona, and Illinois, as well as Mayo Clinic suggest five activities, which combined, are proven to enhance cognitive function, grow grey matter and shrink the amygdala’s flight or fight response.

All five activities are naturally part of group Tai Chi/Qigong:

  1. Exercise 
  2. Stress Reduction
  3. Learn new tasks
  4. Social interaction
  5. Learning to focus

Finding a Tai Chi or Qigong class is as easy as Google.

Watering and fertilizing our Mind Garden includes drinking plenty of water.  Our brain is about 85% water.  Fertilizing means practicing Tai Chi or Qigong at least 30 minutes three times a week.  Fertilizing can be enhanced by reading books and articles with the intention of remembering the content and staying in touch with old, and making new, friends.  And, fertilizing may also include 5 to 20 minutes of meditation.

The rewards?  In gardening we harvest juicy, fresh, sweet vegetables.  In Mind Gardening, we can expect increases in brain volume and improvements in memory and thinking as proven by before and after MRI results in test groups both in US and China.

While Iowa has a short gardening season, Mind Gardening can be a year round pleasure with daily rewards of richer life, less stress, and confidence that we are doing all we can to prevent or postpone a deteriorating mind.

What are you going to plant in your Mind Garden?  Namaste.  Becky

 

(*Opinions in this article are my own developed from many sources including my personal experience and studies by: University of South Florida and Fudan University in Shanghai, Mayo Clinic and Harvard Medical School.)

About the Author:

First born, awkward teenager, young professional, wife, Momma, divorced wife, Grammy, wife (again), business owner, Fortune 500 Corporation executive, career coach, reader, writer, fly fisher, joke teller, fast driver, INFJ, Aquarius, Feng Shui hobbyiest, Starbucks drinker, Tai Chi/Qigong practitioner and teacher, Iowan….Of all my labels, momma, grammy and wife are the most cherished

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