August felt like the month of gardens. I first felt their supportive presence mid August when we came across the butterfly garden in Central Park North. (A few butterfly gardens are planted throughout the park with the particular milkweed plants that butterflies feast on to sustain their migration between Canada and Mexico. The flowers in this protected patch are just beautiful and smell particularly wonderful.)
Since then I have been keenly aware of the presence of gardens. At first, it was very literal- the next day we left for a 3 week trip to the Netherlands. We stayed at my mother in law’s house, which has a beautiful garden in both her front and backyard. In Dutch they use the word garden more than we do in English: houses have a front garden and a back garden, children play not in play parks but in play gardens. Inevitably, with two young children, our holiday was a series of playful garden visits!
The untamed essence of nature also called us to it. We also spent time in rivers, lakes and at the beach, in the dense forests and the vast dune lands. The wilds of nature are intoxicating, reminding us we are part of something so grand and tumultuous. Meaning our holiday was also a series of invigorating, cleansing nature baths. But where would we land? We would find ourselves back in the comfort and safety of the gardens once more. And the return to the garden was not for our children alone.
We need our gardens to nurture us as we grow in the world. Not just as children, and not just at the onset of our yoga journey. The garden represents a purposely cultivated, focused refuge, a place where we can really take in the immensity of the world because we can sip the nectar from its flowers, eat the berries from the vines, delight in the beauty and the fragrance.
The wilds of daily life has its rigors. On the best of days the mundane moves us toward our goals in leaps and bounds, and on the worst of days reminds us of the importance of having a deep reserve to sip from. Along with the butterfly, we all need touch down experiences in our journey— time to breath easy and play freely in the garden. We need teachers, fellow students on the path, times and places to bask in the sheer beauty of who we are and how our connection to what is inherently good in the world is inseverable. Remember, we have not been kicked out of the garden, we have to feel ourselves worthy of its beauty and its succulence.
I encourage each of us, before our fall schedules fill with all that is to come, to plant protected patches of time in which to touch down and be renewed, to deepen our self study and enliven our daily life. Take yourself up on the opportunities along the path to be replenished in the gardens of the world.
If yoga is your path, maybe it’s a daily meditation practice or a weekly class that you commit to, maybe a retreat, maybe even an Immersion! These I know are happening and you can find out more about them. The World Yoga Center and I have lots of options to choose from.
You can find out what I am offering here.
Whatever you are drawn to this fall, commit and have faith that life will honor your request to enter the garden’s gates.
Pictures from that first insight into the importance of gardens, the butterfly garden in North Central Park, NYC: