The Law of Conservation of Mass-Energy tells us that nothing is ever truly created or destroyed. All energy, or mass, simply changes form. While scientifically we know this to be true, we don’t always think about this in terms of how this applies to our lives, but seeing it within our gardens is a great starting point for understanding how it works. Permaculture principles remind us to be aware of our output and inputs, and in a closed loop system waste is merely an opportunity to find a beneficial solution, turning a seemingly unimportant output back into an input.
Compost is a great example of this. We may not utilize every aspect of what comes out of our garden, such as the tops of carrot and radishes, or the bottoms of broccoli. As these items do not just disappear if we were to throw them in the garbage (they may eventually, but are more likely to rot and sour the things around it in a landfill), we compost these ingredients to make the most out of their potential. Beneficial bacteria found in the compost system, along with perhaps red wrigglers or black soldier flies (there are a variety of other compost systems you might use- I use both of these methods) break down the matter and transform it into rich compost for use in our gardens. We take what might have been someone’s perceived waste and re-purpose it as a sort of treasure.
In our house, we save egg shells and used coffee grounds. I sprinkle mashed up egg shell pieces around the greens in my garden to keep the snails off, and used coffee grounds can be sprinkled throughout the garden to encourage earth worm activity (just to make it clear, most of the more awesome things I do in my garden that might not be well known, such as this, comes from Justin. If you’re reading this, Justin, I appreciate your mind and insights!!). It is awesome to take things that in most households might be thrown out and re-purpose them back into our landscapes to benefit the greater whole of production.
Within our own personal lives, we also have waste. Strong emotions, such as fear, sadness and regret don’t just disappear into nothing. Instead, they find their way into our minds and bodies, often times out of our conscious awareness, settling into our subconscious. We may as well think they’re no longer there. Like throwing trash into the garbage, it may be out of sight/out of mind for us, but that trash is then moved and finds its resting place in a landfill that brings pollution and sickness to the land at whole.
Unlike a physical item existing outside of us, that we can send away and never deal with again (at least, that’s the idea when we think about ourselves as isolated from everyone else on this planet, because ultimately someone out there IS dealing with our garbage), our emotions work a little different. We might think when we are angry or bitter towards someone else we are sending those emotions to the other person to deal with, but that’s not always the case. How someone else internalizes our experience is up to them. We on the other hand still have those emotions within us, and we can decided whether we choose to compost our experiences or throw them into our own personal landfills to deal with later (or not at all).
We all know the guy/gal who, given the right set of circumstances, will throw a rage and potentially hurt someone in the process. That rage doesn’t just come from no where. We’ve all met the guy/gal who regularly looks for opportunities to put others down, because of deep seated insecurities he/she has been piling up for too long. Heaps of landfills reside within our energetic bodies that often times don’t get looked at, because many of us were never given the tools in order to deal with them. We never learned how to healthily compost our experiences.
So what does the conscious composting of our emotions look like? When we’re sick we turn to the doctor for medication, something to be applied to rid ourselves of the infection. Similarly, we have our own internal “medications” to be applied: openness, vulnerability, empathy, forgiveness, honesty, kindness. We have a shelf full of these qualities somewhere within us, and the more you use these healing balms, the more that seems to end up on your shelf for future use! How to use these? Toward self, toward others, toward situations at hand. Side effects? Growth, personal power, stronger relationships, healing, health, greater capacity for unconditional love towards all things. Oh, and maybe relationships that go their separate ways, but that’s okay!
On the path to becoming our best selves, not everyone is meant to be in our lives forever. In time, we learn people can go their separate ways and we can still hold love and reverence for each them (even if we found them to be disrespectful, vulgar, hurtful, hateful, etc.)! Every person is on a very unique path, learning different lessons at different times, each with our own suitcase of challenges we all bring into this life and continue to build upon (or empty). Our capacity to hold empathy and acceptance for all people IS possible, if only we can see the conditioning in which imprints upon each of us.
Have you been composting? Whether you have been experiencing the wonders of rich soil production in your garden, or experiencing alchemy within yourself as we transmute our hurt into healing, composting has much to teach us about how energy continues to exist in our lives, merely changing form. We have so much power, and it is within our grasp to either recycle or to make trash. Be kind to yourself, as all of these things take time to understand and implement.