Gardening was never really my thing! Too many failed attempts with Ikea potted plants and cold Finnish winters.
So, I always sought out beautiful natural places instead of a garden…the forests and lakes in Finland, MacRitchie in Singapore, cliff walking in Cornwall and sunsets and rice fields in Bali.
My own home in Bali has, tellingly, a large scrappy garden where nothing really beautiful or useful seems to grow except papayas, coconuts and bamboo. A number of areas in the courtyard have been designated for growing herbs and flowers. I’ve tried everything but nothing seems to hold except weeds and frogs. One of the flower boxes has accordingly been relegated to ‘organic waste’ disposal and from it, two years ago, there started to grow an ugly, twisted tormented bush with large thorns that scratched my leg every time I walked past. It became a personal joke and a testimony to my utter failure at gardening. I watched it grow bigger and bigger over the years. And I waited for the gardener to cut it down – but he never did. Occasionally, he’d remark something like ‘ ugly that one Ibu Sanna. ‘ That’s Useful I thought. How about doing something about it then… like cut it down then…that never happened.
The auspicious Hindu month of Kartik started in October and continues until the first full moon in November. It is a time to celebrate Krishna and it is said that whatever you do in this month to remember Krishna will bear 100 times more merit than usual. It is a time for living a simple life, devotion, fasting and practising ‘ahimsa’ or non-violence. I put down the saw I’d just picked up to finally rid myself of the wretched thorny bush and said quietly to myself ‘ let it be for now.’ In this kartik month I started to really work with my emotions and intentions and I decided to consciously remove any negative thoughts that might arise and any feeling of discontent. Just let it all go was the mantra..Om, I have enough….. I wanted to stop any hint of complaint, and I brought all of these ideas into the yoga philosophy section I was teaching at Radiantly Alive YTT. It turned out to be a wonderful, happy month culminating in a full moon party and a wonderful graduation ceremony.
The following morning I went for an early pre-dawn swim and accidently brushed past the thorny bush (again) but this time cut my leg really badly. That’s it I thought! Enough! This thing isn’t serving me! In a rage, I grabbed the saw and started to violently cut it down from the stem. Suddenly, something very large with black and white wings flew out of it and circled around me three times and landed back in the bush! At first I thought it was a tiny bat. But, startled, I saw It was in fact a huge, beautiful and quite rare Bali butterfly- one that has largely disappeared from the area due to loss of natural places! Getting in close to the thorny bush for the first time, I noticed a beautiful subtle; intoxicating fragrance and I could see that the butterfly had landed on something tiny and slightly yellow deep inside…it was… a miniature lemon! I was cutting down a young beautiful lemon tree!!!!!!
If yoga philosophy interests you, please considering joining me at a YTT, workshop or retreat next year.
Cover shot by WariOm at Radiantly Alive Yoga, Bali, YTT graduation ceremony