There is a new section on Cronhill.de and it is called Jardin Intérieur. In this section I develop ideas and deal with themes. I write notes and link them together. In the end, I may harvest something new.
Tending the inner garden, maintaining a mind garden, that doesn't capture it so well linguistically, as the original dresses it up in that wonderful sound of the French language: Jardin Intérieur. That sounds beautiful to me. The suggestion came from my friend Arne and I quickly warmed to it for various reasons.
I need a place where the ephemeral finds a neat place, a quick repository. I need a place where I can return and slowly solidify the fleeting; until an insight, a thought, something ethereal, fleeting has become something substantial after some time.
Cultivate your inner garden
Cultiver son Jardin Intérieur
I need a tool, a tool that supports me, that is easy to use, has a comfortable interface. Not a CNC machine, but rather a simple chest lyre, you take it, use it, you don't make a fuss about it, you need almost no knowledge, there is no user interface threshold you have to climb over, a tool that is barrier-free, so to speak - for the head.
That is already quite a lot for such a simple tool. It is not at all clear what a Jardin Intérieur really is, because - naturally - everyone sees it a little differently.
What is a Jardin Intérieur?
It often helps me when I put the words in my "mouth", and verbally chew on them. Jardin. Intérieur. For those who didn't have French at school, who never heard these terms before: Jardin means garden, Intérieur simply translates as the inside.
For me, however, the word intérieur has more to it than just the interior, than just an interior view of one's own self, of one's own world of thought. Since the term is often used in upmarket interior design magazines and by certain architects and interior designers, I have less of an abstract interior in mind when I think of the term 'intérieur' than what is actually furnished and equipped. In my mind, very different interior views of rooms and houses are formed, fully furnished in different styles and tastes.
Is that a fitting metaphor for the Jardin Intérieur?
In part, yes, I think so. We certainly fill our heads with very different thoughts and ideas. Not all of them are of pronounced elegance. As an interior designer once said to me: "If you don't have much space, use furniture with delicate and fine contours and feet. Every now and then, our insides are overshadowed by absolute hideousness. We have feelings, strong feelings, love and hate, indifference and interest. We inherit thoughts like Aunt Erna's ugly and clunky chest, like being given knick-knacks that go the direct way to the cellar or the attic. We would also like to do without unnecessary things in our heads, but it should still be homely and not sober like in a modern railway station vestibule.
We should throw some things out of our inner house, rearrange other things, put them together differently. Maybe the sofa in the kitchen, the TV in the bathroom. Gain new inner views. New insights.
The garden is also an interesting metaphor. In gardens as a whole, we can see and experience wonderful things. There are as many different gardens as there are tastes and cultures. Each style had its time and today we live in the luxury of knowing them all, of being able to study them.
Garden designers have traditionally always been concerned about the effect of design on the garden visitor and viewer. From the imposing symmetry of French chateau gardens, to the invisible planning elegance of great English parks where you never go where you look. Among the interesting gardens are the Japanese dry gardens or dry landscape gardens called kare-san-sui (dried landscape). They consist only of gravel, stones and boulders. With the exception of moss, no plants are used in the classical version. Both raking the gravel areas and contemplating the garden are considered part of meditation. The gardens should be designed as randomly as nature, an odd number of elements is preferable.
I would like to mention the English cottage garden with its abundance of flowers and plants. In this type of garden, a very varied design can be laid out in a small space, with skilful planning the garden flowers all year round, and there are designated areas for growing vegetables, berries and fruit. For inspiration, I would just like to mention the ideas and work of Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932), Margery Fish (1892-1969), Norah Lindsay (1866-1948) and, of course, gardener and writer Vita Sackville-West (1892-1962).
What do I take away from these different types of gardens as insights for the Jardin Intérieur?
From the Japanese Zen Garden
In Zen Buddhism, the unessential is to be left out in order to have a pure mind for meditation. This Zen wisdom is called "Mu" or "Ku" in Japanese. Translated, it means something like emptiness. This emptiness is embodied by the white gravel surfaces.
The stones also have a great significance. It is important that they have a patina "Sabi". "Wabi", in turn, expresses appreciation for things that are perishable. This is shown in the patina, in the scratches, nicks and colour differences of the stones.
Consider the ephemeral, save the inessential. Empty your mind.
From the English garden
You never go where you look. This design philosophy underlies many English parks. It increases longing, arouses interest, curiosity through the diversions. But it also shows beautifully what we can discover on the way to our goal if we do not take the direct route to it.
It is not the direct route that leads to the goal, often the diversions, although it seems further, is the more rewarding alternative. Surprising insights and findings await us on this path. At the end, the destination that we first saw a long time ago awaits us.
The English Cottage Garden
The English cottage garden in particular can be realised on almost any surface and in any size. It is a particularly beautiful example of the rich harvest that can be reaped if you plant skilfully, sow in good time, and paint with plants as if with colours. Then, in summer, you are literally overwhelmed by a blaze of colour. In the cottage garden, very different things grow side by side in great harmony. And gives us a smile of joy on our face all year round.
Sowing and planting as well as good care and proper watering brings us a colourful and abundant harvest.
Now I have written so much about gardens ...
... is it about interior design or garden design?
The Jardin Intérieur
Yes. No. Maybe. Yes, it is. Jardin Intérieur is not, of course, about interior design (actually, it is) or about the garden (oh yes, it is), but about an abstraction of these concepts that we apply to ourselves.
The themes that preoccupy us, the thoughts that drive us and the ideas that we spin, they are like furniture that we take into our home. They are like plants that we plant in our garden. We should think in terms of planning as well as taking into account our soul, allowing ourselves feelings such as sentimentality, remembrance and commemoration.
Was versteht sich jetzt unter einem Jardin Intérieur?
The website https://www.colibris-lemouvement.org writes the following in its magazine introduction:
I don't understand this approach as slightly esoteric as it then goes on in the text. Read for yourself. But rather quite pragmatically for all thoughts, ideas, plans and intentions that occupy me. I also include my feelings and my experiences in this garden and try to articulate all that is in my head, to consciously sow it in my inner garden.
This ranges from complex, sometimes philosophical questions such as:
- How do I solve problems?
to my technical and content plans for my website Cronhill.de.
- How do I want to write my articles?
- How do I experience the world at the moment and why is that?
- I want to create something new in the workshop.
I turn my gaze inwards and try to listen to myself and recognise myself. At the same time I write it down, I formulate the thought, the idea, the plan. This is the fleeting first moment where - hopefully - my mind sharpens the thought - through the process of writing. Francis Bacon had already recognised this in 1625 and wrote it down:
And the more precisely we write, the more we learn about ourselves. For writing is the most exact process of thinking. Moreover, every transfer of media brings about a change in ourselves. From note to thought, from thought to first draft of text, from draft of text to essay.
We not only listen within ourselves and to ourselves, but we sharpen this gaze.
This is the moment when we sow the thought in our Jardin Intérieur. We write it down. But as in the garden, as in our intérieur, we do this in a planned way. No thought, no theme stands alone. Each one has a relationship to another.
Now it is a matter, as I see it, of making our little plant, the seed, grow. In nature, this usually requires warmth, sun, water and nutrients. My experience in the garden has shown: Attention, address and love also help plants to grow. I caress them.
The beauty of the Jardin Intérieur written down is, we can and should return to it as often as we can.
We read something and know that it fits a planted thought, complements a seeded idea or makes an already well-grown project just a little bit more perfect. We find a beautiful new plant that harmonises perfectly with our Geranium Magnificum. Let's get to work! Hoe in the fertiliser straight away, rework the contents.
In the process, the gaze turns inward and asks the self:
- what do I need?
- what do I want?
- what am I satisfied with?
- what strengthens me?
- what weakens me?
It is a research project. It is more than a simple one: Know yourself. After all, I am not a static object, because in addition to the experience gained through the past time of my life, I also have the ability to plan, to recognise, to see, to act and to keep on learning. With mindfulness. I see the Jardin Intérieur as more than just a meditative way of looking at my inner self. It can serve me for all purposes where I want to grow, grow in insight and clarity, grow in consciousness, completely detached from size, quantity, mass. Neither is less always more, nor more always better.
But we should also not take it too seriously. There is no obligation to optimise oneself. There is no ideal to strive for, we should humour ourselves, not always take our will so seriously - and in this way, funnily enough, again consciously resist the pressure to be perfect and optimised.
How do others do it?
The practice and a few rules
On the web, you are never the first to get the idea to do something specific. So there are a few interesting role models (see sources) that I've been following. Anne-Laure Le Cunff wrote up a bit about this for Ness Labs:
- taking care of your mind means cultivating your curiosity (the seeds)
- growing your knowledge (the trees)
- producing new thoughts (the fruits)
- it is a repetitive process
- work in an "open garage", make your ideas public
The simple process of sowing in the Jardin Intérieur according to Anne-Laure Le Cunff
- Collect. Notes, raw snippets, Kindle highlights + personal comments.
- Connect. Link your notes to previous notes. Don't keep orphaned notes.
- Create. Write an original article.
Then she say:
- write quality content
- whenever you read something, take notes
- work the notes into your Jardin Intérieur
- create links, subdivide topics
- write in your own words (because then you can remember better)
- no element stands alone, they are all linked together
- there are no unlinked elements
- don't use folders, folder structures restrict your freedom of thought, like drawers in your mind.
- the process is not linear: it goes back and forth, to the side, back again, then to the other side.
Running a Jardin Intérieur means slowly moving from collector to creator. From the collected thoughts, something new emerges of its own accord if well cared for. A thought is no longer just a loose thread, it is now knitted, interwoven and woven, in tight stitches, with other similar, complementary and enriching information and notes. Stitch by stitch, something is growing that we cannot yet recognise at the moment.
In the sources you will find interesting links to other gardens and authors.
I have a Jardin Intérieur, a Mind Garden. Even though I doubt that I have fully grasped the principle of a Jardin Intérieur. But I don't think that's a bad thing. I'll keep writing on it.