First, you amend the soil. As the foundation of your garden, the soil must be fortified. It must include the ingredients necessary to create the chemical reaction that will spur each little seed to release its tendrils of life-force into the sacred earth. In the darkness, each of these seeds will imbue itself with the energy of the soil it’s bathed in—it’s about way more than just raking cow manure into dirt so you have a rich soil base.

Two Saturdays ago, I bought two 50-pound bags of composted cow manure at the Tennessee Co-op here in Franklin, Tenn. I took this Black Kow Gold and worked it into my 10’ x 10’ plot with a rake for a good hour and a half. I could feel the effort in my body—a body sorely in need of exercise, air and sunshine. The repetitive rhythm of the raking and the transformation of the soil from a chunky, pale orange (we’re in clay country here) to a rich red-brown was mesmerizing.

I heard birds of all kinds in the nearby trees. I could hear the distant conversation of fellow community gardeners. But mostly it was me, the rake and the soil. The combination of physical effort and mental focus with no digital distraction was calming and cathartic. Much needed. I could see the appeal of tending a Zen garden. Granted, the next day I could feel the efforts of all that raking in my sore muscles and possibly newly arthritic hands, but I didn’t care. It was worth it. My soul thanked me and my aching body.

Think of your mind as soil—the dark, fertile place where your thoughts become feelings and ideas, dreams and realities. What you feed your mind feeds all the seeds that you plant there. Have you amended the dark, rich earth of your mind with the ingredients that will nurture and develop all those dreams and ideas? Are you giving your mind enough sun? Enough water? Does it have enough oxygen? What do you want to plant there?

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