21 Ways to Live Life in Full Bloom

Live a life of greater meaning, purpose and joy.

By Elizabeth Murray

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We all have our own view of the ideal life, the one that writer Elizabeth Murray calls a life in "full bloom"—a life that's good, meaningful, and full of creativity and compassion for others. To achieve that life, she writes in her new book Living Life in Full Bloom, you have to foster and develop the qualities of four distinct personality characteristics that each one of us harbors deep within: the gardener, who nurtures and observes; the artist, who uses creativity to discover new possibilities; the lover, who is guided by her heart and passions; and the spirit-weaver, who expresses gratitude and recognizes blessings.

The following selections from Murray's book show you a few ways that you can tap into each of those personalities so you can "define the purpose of your busy life, figure out who you really are, and unearth your passions and gifts," she writes.

THE GARDENER

Breathe

Breathing as a relaxation technique is an ancient practice and can be used at any time to increase your vitality and happiness.

breatheHead outside to a garden terrace, porch, park, or wild area. Sit directly on the ground or lean against a tree with your bare feet planted firmly on the Earth. Take even breaths, in and out. Enjoy your breath and be aware of the pleasure of being in Nature. As you breathe, consider how you share the same air with the weather, the coolness or warmth, the breeze, and the sun. Which scents does the air carry? Can you smell the current season? Can you feel the season with your cheeks? Can you hear the season? As you breathe, bring an awareness of the garden into your body. Slow down your thoughts, inhale with a mindful focus, and feel the union of your body with the natural world.

Greet the dawn

Choose a day to awaken before dawn and be ready to greet the day's first light.

greet the dawnRise before dawn. Light a candle to guide your way outside or to a large window. Admire the soft colors as they appear on the horizon. Let the dawn light inspire you. Appreciate this new day as a gift like no other. Choose to embrace it with intention and mindfulness. What would you like to dedicate this day to—a loved one, an action you want to take, or an opportunity to express peace, love, courage, clarity? Gather your dreams and consider what they say about your aspirations for your inner personal garden and the garden you share with the world.

Savor food with gratitude

Blessings on the meal!

savor food with gratitudeBuy your food from local organic growers and producers, and strive to grow food in your own garden. Invite friends over to cook. Search out new and different recipes—ethnic foods connect us to the people of the world and the global dining table! Eat entirely vegetarian meals at least once a week for health of body and Earth. And before you eat, express gratitude for the food by blessing the growers, the elements, and the cooks. I like to hold hands with my guests and bless our meal together. Conscious food consumption—eating with purpose and gratitude—helps to develop new, more healthful eating patterns and to increase the appreciation you have for the abundance in your life.

Embrace the night

As cosmologist Brian Swimme tells us, we are all made from stardust.

embrace the nightGo outside to the darkest place you can find and lay down under the night sky. Become aware of a living, expanding cosmos and our connection in present time and deep time—the multimillion-year time frame within which scientists believe Earth has existed. If you can see thousands of specks of light, put your hand up: The space of one fingernail will cover up one million galaxies. Think of the implications! You can't help but be in awe of the vastness of the night sky, reflect on the interconnectedness of life, and allow yourself to hold deep reverence for Earth.

Make Generosity a Habit

make generosity a habitBecause of salmon-rich rivers, gigantic forests growing on the edge of bountiful seas, and a profuse plant life of berries, food, and medicine, the native people of the Pacific Northwest had time to develop rich animistic mythologies and art forms reflecting that abundance.

Reflect on the native cultural value that status comes from what you give away, not how much you possess. Sort through your material abundances for things you can share or give away. Make donating food (whether garden riches or groceries) a goal each month. Plan a garden celebration to share your harvest and gratitude with your friends and community, lifting up the bounty with music. Your generosity will generate abundance.

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