Sometimes change is big and dramatic, impossible to miss. We've all gone through those periods of growth, when it seems that everything changes - changing jobs, getting promoted, changing apartments, moving out of state, starting school, finishing school. Starting a new yoga class. And we're always looking forward to the landmarks that show us how far we've come - the diplomas, the promotions, the engagements, the trophies, the celebrations. In yoga, you look forward to those days when something big happens, the day when you finally do every posture, touch your forehead to your knee, lock your knees in stretching pose, wrap your foot in eagle, or touch your head on your toes. And you should be excited about those milestones! It's so exciting to see your body change and to measure your own improvement.
But I'm interested in subtle changes, too. After all, every big change is the result of hundreds of tiny, incremental changes. Those are the ones that are easy to miss, but they shouldn't be forgotten.
Here's an easy example: there's a terrific passage in How Yoga Works where the girl is coaching her student, the Captain, through a stretching pose. She puts a stack of paper on the floor and has him touch the top sheet of paper. Then she takes off one page. "One paper a day," she says, "That's the right speed for your back." (But that will take me months! he complains. Yes, she replies, but think about how fast it is compared to how long you spent hurting your back in the first place.) Taking away one sheet of paper is not exciting; the change is barely noticeable! But sheet by sheet, day by day, those tiny changes will heal the Captain's back.
And after all, nature works the same way. Ever since the Winter Solstice, the days have been getting longer again, at least in this part of the globe. Today, the sun set 15 minutes later than it did on December 21st. Between the weather and the lights of civilization, you'd never notice a difference; it's still dark by the time most people get out of work. But before we know it, it'll be summer again and we'll be enjoying the light long into the evening, past dinnertime, having drinks and desserts on the porch. Slowly, inevitably, we are turning towards the sun, into more light.
When we take control of this process, when we decide to take the steps to make those little changes happen, it all comes back down to gardening.
We must become
It's not enough to just plant seeds and then forget about them. You have to nurture them, bit by bit, day by day. You can't expect them to burst into bloom overnight. Even when you can't see anything happening, you have to keep watering your garden. Keep at it, whatever that "it" may be. Keep finding little ways to turn your house into a home. Keep going out and meeting new people. Keep finding new ways to cook for yourself and nourish yourself. Keep reading new things. Keep going to yoga class and just trying the right way. That's the only way to make your garden grow.
Under your tender care, one day all those seeds will sprout, grow, and open up - like a flower petal blooming!! (Of course.) When the conditions are right, it just happens. Stay patient, stay passionate, stay vigilant, and keep on tending your garden.