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The need to harvest yourself

You are the most precious garden you will ever tend to, writes Ellen Moran.

What does the term “harvest” mean to you? To me, it’s one of the most beautiful and underrated practices of the human experience. It’s physical, earthy, grounded, raw. And so, so joyful. Not many people are familiar with performing a “harvest”, and I think it could be one of the greatest healers for our mind, body and soul.

I recently spent a weekend with my lover in a little cottage on the south coast of Australia connecting and reconnecting and realigning. As he enjoyed a sleepy siesta one afternoon, I explored the garden that our host had very generously shared with us. It was an hour spent in a dreamy, joyful haze. Not the kind of joy that jumps out of your chest, but the kind where your mind stops, and your skin feels golden.

Most of the afternoon was instinctual. I noticed which plants needed watering, pruning. Which had grown heavy with juicy blackberries, plump tomatoes or fragrant rosemary. I tended to plants with old limbs that were hindering their growth, gently stripping away the old. I was gentle, and never took more than I needed.

Berries that resisted my pull were left, and others fell into my hands. I caught my clothes on thorns and sank my toes into dirt. I thanked the plants for all their hard work, and sat with gratitude once I was done, sipping on peppermint tea made with fresh leaves. In this moment, I had an epiphany that struck me so deeply, I had to write it down on a paper towel.

Slow, intentional living is so beneficial. An hour out of my day being totally present in a cycle of growth, not above it or below it, made me feel like a new woman. And to spend time in a garden, witnessing the growth cycle of plants is very humbling. It is very apparent that although growth can be graceful, there is a lot of work done to get a plant from the point of sowing a seed to picking a fruit. But this isn’t the epiphany I was talking about — none of this is groundbreaking knowledge. Humans have been participating in (and respecting) the harvest for centuries. But consider this: when was the last time you witnessed and respected your own growth cycle?

You have been “planted” on this planet. You’ve grown to an age where you have begun to take care of yourself. You can water yourself, feed yourself. You’re probably even capable of pruning away dead “branches” that no longer serve you. You grow taller and taller, standing strong through storms and basking in light.

And then something comes to fruition. You “flower”. Something you’ve been working on for a long time actually happens. Maybe you finally learnt to speak another language, do a handstand or love yourself. Something in you has flowered enough for it to be tangible.

But, then, your eyes shift to the next thing to work on.

So, when and where is your harvest?

If we liken this tangible “flowering” to a ripened blackberry, it might make more sense. When do you allow yourself to pick the berry, enjoy it, give thanks to the effort that went into it? You wouldn’t let the berry fall to the ground as you wait for the next berry to ripen… what is the point of growing something if you don’t allow yourself to enjoy the fruits?

You could never be as invested in your garden as you are in yourself. So why do you respect and honour the cycle of your garden’s growth whilst ignoring your own? Next time you find yourself constantly reaching for the next milestone, achieving and then pushing aside, always needing to reach something, please pause and reflect. Allow your own cycles of life come to a close. Harvest the fruits of your labour. Live slower, and with more intention — you are the most precious garden you will ever tend to.

Ellen Moran is a practising yoga teacher, artist and writer, currently working at Momentum Media as a Relationship Manager. This opinion feature was originally posted on her blog, With Intention.

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“Kindness is the language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain