This past week, I've been reflecting a lot on the true nature of abundance. As someone that grew up poor and stayed poor for quite a while after college, I have a pretty pronounced addiction to working and doing. Not only were those the few things that helped me overcome my initial circumstances and measurably improve my quality of life, but they also gave (and continue to give) me a sense of control over the chaos. Now, this "sense" of control is not the same as actual control, and it can really serve as more of an illusory compulsion than anything resembling a tangible, strategic game plan. For the last few months, I've been spending a lot of my time working on projects that require a lot of up-front investment (time, sweat equity and actual equity) and produce very little- if any- immediate results. This is a big challenge for any workaholic with scarcity issues, as we need that immediate ROI- otherwise known as the "fix"- to help abate our anxiety. But, within this challenge, a flash of insight has emerged.
The metaphor is a bit obvious in retrospect, but working in our TOTEM Flower Essence garden has sparked a major revelation: if abundance is yin energy, then you can’t harness it with yang tools. You can try, but this isn’t a solid foundation on which to build something with the capacity to grow, be resilient, and withstand peaks and valleys in demand.
I can’t boss my garden around. I can’t make it do anything. I can’t force a literary agent to pick up my book. I can’t control the market or client demand or the stock market. I can’t make shareholders double down with a cool quarterly earnings report.
All I can do is plant seeds, ideate and create, and execute on the pieces of my business that are within my control. Then, I need to see if it takes root…and recognize that I don’t control that part of the process.
The garden’s teachings Never has my scarcity compulsion been more obvious than when I work in our TOTEM Flower Essence garden. To ensure that everything is organic and non-GMO and as high vibration as possible, I made the decision to grow everything slowly and by organic seed. And, while I had fun with a lot of the prep work, staying busy with mason jars and labeling and cold stratification and scarification and warm beer soaks and germination and research and a literal binder of notes, I've really hit the wall now that the seeds are in the soil, out of sight and out of my control.
You’d think that this would be the enjoyable phase of the project. The first push of work is done. I should sit out there and just relax. But I’ve discovered just how much releasing control makes me uncomfortable. And I’m ferociously jealous of people that can release, surrender, and chill out on command. What a life skill! While I rationally understand that the seeds take some time to grow, and that they must necessarily grow outside of my sight because they require being sown in soil to gestate and germinate, none of this knowledge abates my very visceral anxiety. Several times a day, I find myself outside, looking for any sign of botanical life, pacing back and forth and talking to what I hope are my little seedlings. Researching and cross-checking whether or not I planted them correctly. Am I over-watering or under-watering? Did I buy the right soil? Did a bird come and eat them? It’s crazy. They’re seeds. Nature knows what it’s doing. And so does abundance energy. In parallel to the garden project, I've been investing time and equity into a book proposal around the topic of modern shamanism for the skeptical but curious spiritual seekers among us. I've engaged an incredible professional and major subject matter expert to drive the process and assist at every step, but- just like with the garden- the ultimate "success" of the effort is outside of my control. Will a publishing house offer me a book deal? Will an agent want to represent me? I don't know. No one knows. We can only do our best and believe. In both of these scenarios, an existential choice comes to the fore: do I want to grow beyond my current state, stretch out into new areas and seek ways to build value for myself and for my clients in more sustainable ways? Or do I want to stay "stuck" with what I know, what I can control, and repeat the same scarcity patterns I likely inherited (behaviorally and epigenetically) from the many dysfunctional generations before me?
If you want to transcend your daily circumstances, you have to invest in yourself. You have to bet on yourself. You have to gamble in as much as planting a seed beneath the soil is a gamble, which it always is. In contemplating these issues, it struck me that there has been a fundamental flaw in my life-long approach to abundance, which was heavily informed by my time in corporate and my challenging early beginnings (and, possibly, playing way too much Oregon Trail in Middle School computer lab). I have always subconsciously equated abundance, having-ness, and even just basic survival with a direct one-to-one effort. In other words: I do a thing and get paid immediately for that thing. Do another thing, get paid for that thing. It’s a grind, essentially, even if you’re enjoying the work itself. Nothing is in the background, passively growing and generating value alongside your one-off daily efforts. But what the garden- and book proposal- experience has taught me is that true abundance is something that is grown. You don't buy it. You don't grab it. You don't take it or make it or build it. You grow it. You plant seeds. You water. You wait. But what comes out of that up-front gamble can pay substantive dividends for months or even years, easing the daily strain and making “work” feel a lot more like a day in the garden.
And, while this may seem super obvious to you, it was a real light bulb moment for me. Something has shifted in my energy body, and I'm truly slowing down a bit...perhaps for the first time in my life.
I even pulled a few cards the other day from the Mary El Tarot Deck that all had to do with gardening, growing, and embracing the passive eb and flow of real abundance energy. One card in particular was encouraging me to focus on this meditation of daily life, of living in the tangible, natural world and do things in the rhythm of my environment. In other words, the tarot cards were affirming my moves and my discoveries and pointing me in right direction: to the garden.
To get out of our debt slavery system, as individuals and as a collective, we need to start making some yin moves. We need to bring the feminine energy of abundance back into our lives and energy bodies. And we need to start taking some calculated risks, allowing for our businesses, selves and overall lives to grow and thrive.
Corporations are not built to last. The very word “corporation” comes from the Latin root of “corpse”, indicating an “unliving body”. They have to cut costs and “value engineer” (that means firing people) every quarter or their shareholders will invest elsewhere. Because of this short-term, scarcity focus, most corporations never build anything of lasting value in the world. What’s more: they’re inherently vulnerable to any unexpected event, having focused on cost at the expense of value.
I believe that we need to focus on the real world, as in the actual world in which we live. The recent years of effectively living online, in the world of appearances and brands and concepts and followers, has not made us richer. It might have made a few people a bit of money for a moment, but it’s not real or resilient or contributing to our greater good in any substantive way. And it’s made us feel empty, searching for real connection and meaning and peace.
The real world is calling to us, to make something of tangible value and build real communities with direct human connection. Sure, some folks are going to have success with NFTs and commodities trading and the metaverse (and good for them), but I’m putting my money on seeds gardens and tinctures and our inherent value as a species living in the world. I think humans are kind of amazing.
Maybe I’m behind the curve. Maybe I’m ahead of it. Or maybe the deeper lesson is that there is no curve outside of our perception. And, in the midst of all of the noise and chaos of shifting, illusory spells and persuasions and online arguments and SuperPAC’s, the real world remains. The grass grows. The rain falls. And the sun shines.
And the real world really doesn’t give a shit about any shareholders. It does what it does, decade after decade, reliable as ever.
The Personal Garden Meditation
With this recent experience, I started to see the “Personal Garden Meditation” that I developed years ago a bit differently. We recently undertook this meditation in our TOTEM Spiritual Transformation Coaching Program, and everyone had incredible experiences. The overall gist is that, by visualizing your “garden” in the meditation, you effectively gain data about your energy body and your life. Has mint taken over the garden? You might be spending too much energy and time on work and money. Is there a struggling rose bush? You might need to pivot your energy towards your relationships and emotional life.
Sometimes, clients will see specific plants in the garden, and I always encourage them to start taking that particular flower essence to either mitigate a challenge or support a growing talent.
It’s a simple meditation that you can do while listening to Shamanic Journeying drumming music or any other meditative music that you prefer. You can lay down on a yoga mat or bed or sitting comfortably.
Start by picturing yourself in a clearing in the woods. It’s sunny and you can feel the warmth of the sun on your face and hands. It’s the kind of temperature in which you could be outside for many hours and not feel hot or cold or uncomfortable in any way.
Somewhere around this clearing is the entrance to your garden. Take mental notes about the entrance to your garden- is there a gate? A trellis? A pathway? Is your garden tall (like with large prairie plants) or short (with smaller planters).
Enter your garden. Take your time in your garden, walking around and assessing the condition of various areas or plants. Do not judge anything that’s struggling, whether it’s a dry area that needs water or a plant that doesn’t seem to be thriving. None of this is your doing. No one’s garden is perfect at all times. Feel free to water, prune or weed areas that need it; this can shift our subconscious minds and energy bodies in the direction of our desire.
Take detailed mental notes about any areas that are thriving or struggling, as the symbolic language of your subconscious mind and energy body understands how to communicate with you metaphorically and literally. When you come out of the meditation, immediately journal these details- focusing on the plants that are thriving or not doing so well.
Take some time to cross-reference what comes through with various chakras or even flower/ tree essences that you can use to help the struggling areas or further support the thriving areas.
You may have also encountered spirit guides in your garden. Totem animals. Characters with messages for you- journal all of that and keep it for your reference moving forward.