“Life has many ways of testing a person’s will, either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happen all at once.” – Paulo Coehlo

Yep, it’s that time of the year/semester when pretty much everyone I know seems to be inundated by their novel-length to-do lists. I’m certainly guilty of getting stuck in this blind “busy loop” from time to time, and it probably doesn’t help that grad school has made me annoyingly goal-oriented. As a result, it’s easy for me to get into this never-ending wash, rinse, and repeat cycle of working on goals, gaining satisfaction from finishing said goals, and then moving onto new ones.

When I’m cognizant of this busyness mind-state, I’m reminded of the Buddhist notion of “samsara”, which describes an endless cycle of desire, disappointment, and renewed desire. Longchenpa compared samsara to getting stuck in an endless circle, without beginning or end.

And that’s when I remember to take a break– to simply cut the circle and step outside of it. I take several deep breaths and remember that all of these projects and goals and to-do-lists can actually wait. They’ll all get done in their own time. I remind myself that in the greater scheme of things, they’re certainly not worth all the stress that my mind is creating and associating with them. And finally, when it’s time to move on from this break and when I’m able to be more mindful of what I’m doing and why I’m doing it, I can continue to work more happily and peacefully.

These past few weeks, I’ve had a little extra help with recognizing and alleviating my busyness mind-state more consistently, all thanks to plants. Who knew? Okay, maybe most people knew. But, for a person who’s found other passions to be more important than plants in his life, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much these beautiful, living, and peaceful creatures have transformed my environment into a more positive and health-promoting space. Sure, they may be the slowest-moving pets I’ve ever had before, but they’ve helped me slow down in ways I never thought were possible.

These are my favorite plant photos I’ve taken this week. Maybe they’ll bring you some peace, too.

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