The Garden of Your Mind and How to Cultivate It

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari" by Robin Sharma. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What is the garden of your mind? How does The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari use a garden as a metaphor?

The garden of your mind is a metaphor used in The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari. Your mind should be thought of as a garden that requires care.

Read more about the garden of your mind and what it means in The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari.

The Garden of Your Mind

The garden from Yogi Raman’s story is a metaphor for your mind. Gardens must be properly cared for and cultivated in order to grow, and the same is true of minds.

John has a garden in his backyard. Julian suggests that John would be upset if he went back there and threw toxic waste on it. However, many people let such toxic waste contaminate their minds. 

This “waste” is in the form of fears and anxieties; worrying about the past and the future contaminates your inner garden. Just as gardeners fiercely protect their gardens, you must stand guard over the garden of your mind and let only the right kinds of thoughts enter. 

On an average day, the average person has 60,000 thoughts. 95% of them are the same thoughts he or she had the day before. People spin their wheels worrying about problems and negatives in their lives, serious or trifling. This is an enormous waste of energy and potential.

The garden of your mind is the one thing in the world that you have total control over. You can’t control what happens around you, but you can control how you respond to it. When your mind is unfocused or distracted by worries, you waste energy and tire yourself out. Over time this energy waste impacts your creativity, motivation, and overall mood. 

Therefore, managing your mind is the key to managing your life. After training their minds for years, the monks of Sivana could perform superhuman feats. Yogi Raman can slow his heartbeat at will, and go for weeks without sleeping. Julian himself shows not only improved physical health, but energy and optimism beyond anything John had ever seen from him before. Julian credits this to his improved mental and spiritual health

John is still having a hard time seeing the connection between his mind and his body, so Julian shows him a small card he got from Yogi Raman, bearing a quote from the sage Patanjali. The quote says that when you are inspired by a great purpose, your mind breaks through its usual limits, and it’s like waking up in a new world. You suddenly find immense strength and abilities you never knew you had. John, who has often felt the surge of strength and inspiration that comes from serving some great purpose, now understands the lesson. 

Find Your Happiness by Finding Your Focus

Concentration is the basis of mastering your mind. You must be able to take all of your mind’s power and focus it on a single task. 

Julian illustrates this concept with a riddle: Imagine that you are lost, and freezing cold. You have a pile of kindling, a letter from your best friend, a can of tuna, and a magnifying glass. Unfortunately, you have no matches. How can you start a fire?

The answer is to put the letter among the kindling and focus the sunlight with the magnifying glass. The letter by itself does nothing, but by concentrating the sun’s energy on it, you’re able to create a fire that warms all of its surroundings. The tuna was just a distraction.

Once you understand concentration, you are one step closer to finding happiness. The secret to happiness is to find what you love doing, then concentrate all of your energy on doing it. When you find what you really want to do, your work will seem like play, and will energize you instead of draining you. 

However, what you do should help others in some way. As Victor Frankl said: Success and happiness can’t be pursued. They come as side effects of dedicating yourself to a greater cause. (Shortform note: For more on creating a meaningful and happy life, read our summary of Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning.)

That doesn’t mean you have to quit your job, sell everything you own, and go searching for your passion like Julian did, but try shaking things up. Leave your comfort zone and do something out of the ordinary. Stop being so practical and logical, and try some of the things you’ve always wanted to do.

The Garden of Your Mind and How to Cultivate It

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  • Why your career success might actually be killing you
  • How to live a simple and fulfilling life
  • The 10 rituals you should practice for health and healing

Rina Shah

An avid reader for as long as she can remember, Rina’s love for books began with The Boxcar Children. Her penchant for always having a book nearby has never faded, though her reading tastes have since evolved. Rina reads around 100 books every year, with a fairly even split between fiction and non-fiction. Her favorite genres are memoirs, public health, and locked room mysteries. As an attorney, Rina can’t help analyzing and deconstructing arguments in any book she reads.

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