We can compare our recovery journey to gardening: starting by weeding out our substances, then re-planting ourselves, finding our roots, watering and nurturing our new selves, and enjoying the growth that is visible to all.
However, what if we did actual gardening when we are in recovery? How can gardening help in recovery?
Getting Grounded in Ourselves
There is nothing like grabbing a handful of soil and feeling the earth between our fingers. Especially if we are tactile-oriented, feeling the moisture and the grains of sand are immediately therapeutic.
Some people believe it is even a spiritual experience, to get in touch with Mother Earth. Also, if the idea seems repulsive, there is something special about getting our hands muddy in the garden.
Certainly, it is a different type of experience than we might have in other forms of therapy in treatment.
In addition to the actual getting our hands dirty, we do find therapeutic value in this basic concept. As a child, we likely played in the dirt and mud, and the experience can help us to ground ourselves in our childhood, or roots.
Finding Our Roots
Whether we are pulling weeds, or removing rocks, shells, or other objects to prepare the soil, we can experience the physical manifestation of weeding out the substances and negative behaviors from our life in preparation for our new life.
Removing rocks proverbially provides us with more space to grow. As we are physically gardening, we can make comparisons to our lives, and see what it looks like to prepare ourselves for healing.
We begin the next phase by planting seeds or transplanting seedlings, cuttings, or other plants. This can be therapeutic for us as we consider the opportunities for us of new life, or being transplanted into new opportunities, just like we are doing.
The possibilities for the growth of our new plantings mirror the endless possibilities for growth in our own life.
Nurturing as a Metaphor
Tending to our garden is where the work comes in. We must be diligent in providing our plants with appropriate water and sunlight regularly. If we forget to care for our plants for any length of time, they may wilt or even die.
This is such a powerful metaphor for our recovery. We are in treatment, which offers us opportunities for daily mental, physical, and emotional nourishment.
We can show up physically, but if we do not do the mental and emotional work to show up ultimately, then it is like watering plants with an empty watering can.
We can protect our plants from the elements, just like we can protect ourselves from outside stressors and temptations to use substances again.
We can shelter ourselves from the situations and opportunities we had before while allowing ourselves to grow stronger to resist the winds, sun, and other harsh elements.
We need to allow ourselves to accept the nurturing that is offered to us. We need to fully participate in therapy and learning to be able to grow and change like we want to.
As we tend our garden and water our plants, carefully pulling out any new weeds, we can use it as an analogy to the self-care and nurturing we need to give ourselves at this time.
Growth We Can See
Like watching our plants sprout and grow, we can also see the growth in us. As we have taken the chance to get in touch with our roots and offered ourselves daily nurturing as we heal, we can look back a week, a month, or even a year, to see the growth that we have had.
Our flourishing plants are a visual representation of the mental, emotional, and even physical growth that we are achieving as a person. There is nothing else quite like the joy of watching plants grow and knowing that we have nurtured them along the way.
Even better will be as we look in the mirror and see the growth that we have experienced within.
The experience of gardening in treatment is also a valuable way to connect with others. Much of our treatment is internalized.
While there are group activities and therapy, there is nothing else quite like learning to cooperate in a setting such as gardening. We are sharing the experience with like-minded people who are on a similar journey, and that is very powerful.
We can invest our efforts together to produce something beautiful as we grow and blossom together.
How can gardening help in recovery? The comparison to our process and growth in treatment can be a powerful reinforcement for our improvement.
As we watch the growth of our plants, we can see our emotional and mental growth reflected in the plants. However, there are actual hands-on experiences that help us to heal, too.
From experiencing the soil in our hands, the physical weeding and preparing the soil, planting, and nurturing and watching the growth, these experiences help us connect with nature. The act of working together and learning cooperation with others helps us to better connect with other human beings.
Connecting with others and connecting with the earth are compelling experiences for us to have as we learn to connect better with ourselves.
Learn how to grow again at AToN Center. Call (888) 535-1516 to experience the renewal and growth that recovery brings firsthand.