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The Lotus and the Mud: What We Can Learn About Personal Growth

By Gloria Thiessen July 10, 2023 Mindset

Consider this: The beautiful, genteel lotus flower comes from a dark, dank, hidden place.

This hardy plant’s roots grow deep in the muddy sediment of a murky pond. Its nutrient rich tuber “seed” has all it needs in potential form for its ascent into plant-hood.

As the plant grows in an unseen world, it draws up nutrients through its stem, and uses it to mature into the form it was meant to be, the beautiful lotus flower.

I don’t know whether it’s a painless process for the plant to grow or not, but the path to its realization is certainly clear: it unfolds by way of the dark, muddy material from the bottom of the pond and uses it to feed its emergence.

What Feeds Our Growth?

It’s interesting how much of the time our growth is fed by the murky pond of our own inner darkness: our troubling life experiences and their gyrating thoughts and feelings, the choices we’ve made and their inherent consequences, our night dreams, our day dreams, and how they inform our lives, not to mention the internal conflicts we live with day to day.

Remarkably, ingeniously, we use all of this and more to feed our own seed of potential from a world outside of our awareness, into what it was meant to be: our very own variety of the beautiful lotus flower: our REAL self. How beautiful is that?

Using “Mud” to Grow

How are you using the “mud” in your own life to nourish the unfolding of your precious “lotus flower”?

Here are a few tips for drawing nourishment from your “mud”:

Pay Attention

I know it’s not easy. And there are so many distractions competing for our attention. But this is the most potent thing we can do. The Yogis of old talk about burning away the dukkha, various shades of suffering (from sadness to sorrow, emptiness to distress, Yogapedia), with the fire of our awareness. Let the fire work for you. Pay attention.

Resist Turning from the Truth

Defy the temptation to turn away from what you see. That is, to hide out in a distracting behavior, like unconscious eating, or watching a stream of shows online, or drinking wine. Instead, allow yourself to turn towards what is there to be seen, and let yourself see it.

If it’s too frightening to do that?

Consider Grounding

Grounding refers to a set of strategies that help us to detach from overwhelming emotions and experiences. We can get grounded by using our breath or through our senses, like what we hear, what we touch, what we smell. We make the present moment a safer place to be when we allow our self to get grounded in the here and now. In this way, we can resist the temptation to turn away from our ‘mud’… and now turn toward it.

What’s the point to all of this? It goes back to the Yogis and their teaching on the various shades of suffering, and our ability to burn it away with the fire of our awareness. For those of us interested moving through life as our REAL self, and not a wounded version thereof, transforming our “mud” is the currency through which we get there. At the end of the day, doing so brings us an enduring contentment in our soul.

Let’s Start a Conversation:

How are you using the “mud” in your life to nourish the unfolding of your precious “lotus flower”? Put another way, how are your taxing life experiences serving your growth into a more authentic version of you? 

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Thank-you, Runveet. :)


Lovely article. Thank you!


Happy to know you enjoyed it, Christine. :)


awesome. yes! staying relevant and grounded is so necessary for me to keep from going into a deep place. However, I work at a winery and I do love a glass or two of wine :)


lol . . . Awareness is always key. :) Sometimes it’s not only about what we do, but also about how we do it, and the level of attention we bring to it.

Peggy Brodland

I Am….. the muddy lotus.
Beautiful analogy- article. Thank you.

Karyn Loveman

Love analogies!

Stories behind them are great visuals, makes the lesson/reminder easier to understand and apply to one’s life as appropriate.



I hear what you’re saying, Karyn. I love them too. :)


lol . . . beautiful. :)
Delighted to know you enjoyed it, Peggy. :)


Great article! A perfect analogy. Keeping a journal is a helpful tool in this process. A place where you can be honest with yourself, and really look within. Thank you for this reminder that personal growth is an ongoing process which is fertilized by all of our life experiences, be they good or bad.


I agree Susan, keeping a journal is a wonderful tool for self-exploration and self-understanding. I enjoy it too.
Delighted to know you enjoyed the article. :)

The Author

Gloria Thiessen, M.A., RCC, CYT-500, C-IAYT is a seasoned psychotherapist, Yoga teacher and writer. She’s passionate about creating healing environments that restore balance to the body and mind, while nourishing the soul. She’s the founder of Nishka Therapy and can be reached at

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