“You can do it, you can undo it, and you can do it differently.”—Sri Swami Satchidananda
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2
I smiled as I took in the view of the 17 plants, nearly two flats, of ajuga, often known as carpet bugleweed. It is a beautiful ground cover that, well, carpets land by underground runners that root the plant into the surrounding soil. Ajuga is perfect for crowding out weeds; it thrives in poor soil, doesn’t need regular attention, possesses a colorful, shiny foliage, and it’s late spring to early summer bluish to purple blossoms are bee, butterfly, and bird favorites. In fact, our beloved dog, Rusty, who has since passed over to his eternal yard, loved to sit in the middle of the ajuga blooms, snatch the bees into his mouth, and eat them! (He always was a one-of-kind dog!) Shaking my head out of the Rusty-reverie, I settled down to the business of planting.
Sliding on my purple gardening gloves, I glanced around at the bright begonias and geraniums that were recently potted, pruned, and plucked of dead or yellowing leaves and buds. The new plants’ cheery reds and glossy greens radiated with the joy of roots freed to spread, expand, and grow. It was as if they came home from a hard day of work at the green house, put on their comfy pants, and sighed an audible, “Ah . . . .”
Grabbing a trowel, I went to work. Digging holes 8-12 inches wide, not too deep, I began by persuasively coaxing each plant out of its pot. Once out, I observed that the roots were tightly bound. In fact, it took quite a bit of hand strength to pry and unbind the roots for planting—so tightly were they clinging to their former pot shape in which they were contained. As I developed a planting rhythm–digging holes, vigorously shaking free plant from pot, firmly clasping and pulling apart bound roots, gently placing in prepared hole, tucking in soil over and around roots—my mind, like the newly planted ajuga roots, was free to expand and roam. That’s when Divine Providence began to trowel up a lesson for me.
Many people, myself included, become root bound by limiting beliefs about self, faith life, career path, education, community, and so forth. Often, these beliefs are seeded in early childhood by well-meaning adults and the knowledge those adults possessed at the time. These views are sometimes further propagated by schools, churches, and/or societal “norms’—again functioning with the best information these groups have at the time. Additionally, the soil, or culture, into which we are planted, may not be as fertile as others—either damp with too much emotion, or dry and devoid of all support. Thus, we can become bound up by beliefs, attitudes, and even tenets that keep us from thriving with the unbridled vibrancy I noticed in the flowers planted days earlier.
Ironically, even when planted into new circumstances with nurturing support that welcomes new thinking, new ways of being, new ways of expressing, living, loving, learning, and so forth, internally we are still remain bound, restricted, and constrained. Whether intentional or not, the pot into which we grew, so tightly bound us, that we may not realize the expansion and possibilities that wait for us if we would only allow our roots to release the shape into which they so tightly grip.
In order to get each ajuga plant out of its container, I had to robustly shake it free. Once free, the roots remained in the exact shape of the pot from which it came. In fact, in order to get the roots to release their grasp of this shape required forcible, almost violent, pulling apart. Once broken free though, the roots seemed to comfortably sink and settle into their new environment with relative ease. And, isn’t that like life?
For some of us, it takes a negative, blunt force experience, or even trauma, to break us free from our tightly bound self-imposed constraints. However, for others, it’s as simple as waking up one day and realizing what Satchidananda was saying in the quote above, we can recognize that we are living one way, because at one time, it seemed right for us, but it now no longer fits our need for growth. Therefore, it is within our power to undo past paths, and expand in a new direction, keeping in mind the lessons from the past.
Like the newly planted ajuga, begonias, and geraniums around my porch, we can choose to unbind our roots, prune off the decaying, limiting beliefs, and allow our minds to be renewed–transforming and beautifying, not just our own life, but all of humanity in a new way. While the ajuga only produces flowers once per year, its blooms not only beautify the location in which it is planted, but also its flowers attract bees, butterflies, birds, and on the rare occasion a random dog, from miles away–taking bits of its beauty with them wide and far. Furthermore, even once their flowers are gone, the plants’ foliage seems to take on a whole new sheen of color and vibrancy as if they glow from not only giving back to the world at large, but from the new found freedom of their underground runners use in order to expand—allowing them to cover more ground and offer up new shoots of growth—and new possibilities for replanting and expanding.
We can choose to release and prune decaying and limiting beliefs.
May our roots be unbound, so that we can cover more ground, offering more love, beauty, and peace to the world. Heaven knows the world could use it!