From Blooming Rose to Boundless Garden

#burnout #healing Aug 15, 2023
Anne Berube
From Blooming Rose to Boundless Garden

Listen to an audio version of this blog post, narrated by Anne Bérubé. Simply select the play button on the media player above.

The river loses its name as it flows into the sea.

-Kahlil Gibran

The last 2 years have been a period of transition for me. I knew I was done with how I had been doing things for the past decade, but I didn't know how things would change or where I was going. I remember thinking: I'm ready to give it all up, if this is the invitation. I don't have to keep any of it, if it doesn't fit with where I am going.

I began to make space by letting go of some things, but I quickly realized that it wasn't enough. This wasn't just about a change in what I did and how I did it. It was a change in identity. A transition in identity is always a little more tricky, especially if you enjoy who you have become.

I had become a teacher, an author, a guide. I created programs people enjoyed, and they were getting results. I wrote books people read and received guidance from. And I enjoyed it immensely. I had spent years building this business centred around embodied service and was successful at it.

Deepak Chopra's wisdom: Measuring joy, ease, and impact

Deepak Chopra used to say, “If it's fun, easy, and you get results, then keep doing it. But if one of these elements is missing, you should reconsider what you do.”

In reality, it was still all those things. But if I dug deeper, I could see that things were not quite what they used to be.

Fun: To me, fun is linked to fulfillment. I have the most fun when I am engaged in an activity that expands my heart, brings me meaning, and moves my soul's desires forward. It's all internally referenced, meaning it is deeply, personally intimate. When I am connected to fun in this way, my body tells me quickly when the alignment is off.

The distinction is subtle here. To my intellect, my work was still fun. But there was a desire in my bones that was trying to push through and be seen, and it was different than how I had been as a teacher.

Easy: Ease is linked to fun because everything is easy when you are in the flow and having fun. Being in the flow involves two things: Clearly aligned with your heart's desires and engaging its impulse. When you are in a period of ease, you are in a creativity phase where all the information has been gathered, you have rested and allowed it to fall into place inside you, and now you are engaging the impulse with clarity and momentum. This phase is such a great feeling. There are no doubts, and all your hard work is paying off. But as soon as it stops feeling that way, it stops being easy. It's when you need to start looking inward again and return to the creative phase of no-thing. The cocoon phase.

A couple of years ago, it stopped being so easy. Again, a very subtle shift in the energy inside me. Although it wasn't hard compared to most endeavours I have taken on in my life, I could still see the difference. I wanted to listen to the shift that was happening.

Gets results: My work never stopped getting results. So it was difficult to see this one clearly. But if I looked deeper inside myself, I felt strongly that a greater impact was available to me, a way for my work to have greater reach. In my heart, I knew it couldn't come through this old identity.

So, who am I if I am not these things that have defined me in the best and most joyful period of my life? How can I let go of who I have been while I still don't know who I am becoming? What does it mean and what does it look like to surrender a whole identity? These were the questions swirling in my mind.

The rose metaphor: Understanding personal growth & identity

I saw myself as a beautiful rose in bloom. It had taken years for me to plant the seed. It took more years before that to get clear about the fact that I was a rose seed. And once I planted the rose seed, it took time to nurture, nourish, and believe in what was yet to be seen, still under the soil.

It took a lot of trust and faith in life. Trust that life was on my side and that I didn't plant this seed in bedrock. And when the seed broke the earth's surface, and I began to be seen by the world around me as a growing rose, it was exhilarating to witness the power of clear intentions and dreams come through.

And when the rose bloomed, it was intoxicating to know myself in this way. I was home.

Then the petals began to wither. Things began to feel a little less easy and I didn't like that feeling. I wanted to return to when I was in full bloom, beaming with life. So I tried to infuse life back into the petals. They would perk up for a bit, but the inevitable impulse to return to the earth was the strongest drive. I had to let it happen.

As I watched the petals fall to the ground, I felt lost. Rationally I understand that I was making space for the new me, but this period felt long and confusing.

During this time, if I were to try to hold on to the old me, I would get a loud sign. It is often difficult to get out of the way of change. After all, we are creatures of habit. During periods of transition, for me, the message is always loud and clear: let go of control and any plans you have, trust that others are self-directed, and let yourself be supported. Unfortunately, I don't always listen ; )

Who am I if I am no longer the rose? Will the world love me if I am not what they have loved? Will I belong if they can't see who I become?

But as I allowed myself to surrender to the process of dying and decay, allowing myself to stay in the deep discomfort of not knowing, of demise, spending more and more time in contemplation and asking for help, I began to enjoy the spaciousness the absence of the rose had created. There was a buzzing, an excitement, like the promise of new life. Although there still wasn't a clear way forward, the space felt fertile.

In this space of no-thing, I understood why it had been so difficult to let go of the rose. I was trying to replace her with another rose or another flower.

I had identified with being a flower so much that I had forgotten that all along, I'd always been the garden, not the rose.

Discovering the garden within: A reflection on growth & transition

This insight changed everything in me. It was like coming home, remembering that I had always been the soil, the divine mother that gives life, that holds all possibilities. I was never what I identified with. I was always the source, the ground where I could create and express myself from.

The strength of the garden is its stability, flexibility, and ever-present readiness to give life. But it is also its ability to hold the memory of past love. In the garden, the beauty and grace of the past rose exist. Although I feared losing what I loved, I never lost anything. The loss was an illusion. In surrendering, we not only have access the more we are becoming, but who we have been remains as energy and wisdom and informs the way forward. It is our attachment to it we must release. Nothing is lost or missing; all is included in the garden of our soul.

So I ask you, what do you notice in your body when you contemplate yourself as the garden, not the flower?

What opens in your heart when you consider that you are so much more than who you have been, even though you can't name it yet?

“It is said that before entering the sea

a river trembles with fear.

She looks back at the path she has traveled,

from the peaks of the mountains,

the long winding road crossing forests and villages.

And in front of her,

she sees an ocean so vast,

that to enter

there seems nothing more than to disappear forever.

But there is no other way.

The river can not go back.

Nobody can go back.

To go back is impossible in existence.

The river needs to take the risk

of entering the ocean

because only then will fear disappear,

because that’s where the river will know

it’s not about disappearing into the ocean,

but of becoming the ocean.”

-Kahlil Gibran


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