Finding personal growth in your garden throughout the year.
We live in a world so disconnected from nature that many of us miss the lessons she teaches us. Seasons serve a purpose, and it’s not only for the healthy life cycle of animals, plants, and insects, but for us too. As the seasons change, so do we, if we are willing to slow down and notice.
I’m a licensed marriage and family therapist and have worked in social services and mental health for over twenty years. Not only has my home garden provided me with a healing space, it has become a tool I use in therapy. Each year we grow and change in so many different ways. It’s never linear, and often we struggle with growing in ways we would like to avoid. I believe, with a shift in perspective, we can always find hope, strength, and love in our growth, even when it’s uncomfortable.
What can our gardens teach us about change and personal growth? And how can nature guide us through change? Think about leaves budding in the spring and turning in the fall, and the way an abundance of new growth and bursts of color slow at different times for various plants and flowers. Ultimately, it’s about the cycle of life and death.
I was working with a teenage client who had suffered immense trauma throughout her young life, and she was struggling to see progress in her healing and growth. During a session, I suggested we explore a garden as a metaphor for her life. We walked through each season. Fall is a time to start slowing down, preparing for a new year, making small changes, and shedding parts of us that no longer feel true. As we walk into winter, life becomes quieter, and slower — a time to go within and focus on healing. It is a time when growth pauses, energy is conserved. Nature needs to regroup, slow down, and heal from injuries, disease, and pests.
What if we took nature’s cue? What if we mimicked the natural cycle, slowed down, and refocused our energy on healing from the year? How could that alter our future growth? Slowly we awaken, and new ideas, goals, and hopes are planted. With each new leaf that emerges in the spring, we blossom too. In nature, spring is the season for rebirth and growth. A new time to reflect. What thrives and what is simply maintained? And what should we let go of, both in the garden and ourselves?
As the days become longer and the vitamin D stronger, we grow, connecting with nature and our community, and we watch the flowers turn to the sun for warmth and life. Summer is a time to celebrate our new growth and strength, and be in our truth as we prepare to restart the cycle all over again.
As we wrapped up the session I asked, “What if we took a cue from nature and followed the seasons? How could your perspective shift? What would your growth look like?” Take a moment to let those questions sink in.
How would you answer?
For more garden therapy, try this Mindfulness Exercise for Your Garden.