“The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just on the body, but the soul.” – Alfred Austin
Wherever you look within your life, there will always be opportunities for mindfulness. However, some activities and hobbies are more suited to it than others. Yes indeed, although it may be possible to find mindful moments in even the most raucous of rock concerts or the most congested of commutes, it is best to fill some parts of your life with more naturally mindful activities. There is, perhaps, no hobby more filled with opportunity than that of gardening.
Gardening is a characteristically peaceful, introverted and connected activity. Because of this it offers mindful moments up to the participator without them really having to do anything other than engage with the task. However, there are ways in which you can enhance the mindful nature of this gentle pastime beyond that which it offers organically.
Whether you are just going to do a little weeding and planting, or if you are planning a garden-wide overhaul; plan before you begin. Having a set start and end point to your task helps to give your time structure. There is a great deal of satisfaction to be had from the completion of a task. Even if, on any particular day, you plan to garden until you have had enough, make that decision before you start. Whatever you decide, make sure you complete what it is you have made a deal with yourself to complete.
2. Pick the Right Plants for Your Garden
Part of mindful gardening is not only caring for your own self, but also doing what is best for your garden. Get to know your garden; what is the soil like? Will your garden’s wildlife affect your plants? What is the climate like? By observing all of these things you will be better placed to pick the right plants for your outdoor space. Different plants react to different environments in different ways. The last thing you want is to plant something that is prone to disease in the soil you have available, putting stress on you; the gardener, and on the ecological welfare of your garden.
Yes, we do talk about this a lot, but it is so important. When you are gardening, there is really no need for a phone or device. To make the experience truly mindful and peaceful, music might also be avoided. This should be time spent just with nature. A time to experience true connectedness with the natural world; its sounds, textures, sights and smells.
4. Barefoot in the Garden
There is an indescribable pleasure in feeling the ground beneath your bare feet; grass between your toes, soil under your nails, sand on your heels. Pay attention to what the ground feels like, and wallow in the tangible connection to nature and the Earth that comes with this simple addition to your outdoor excursion.
Gardening is extremely tactile. It requires you to literally ‘get your hands dirty’. So, when you put your hands in the soil, or feel the touch of a leaf or petal, appreciate their qualities. How does it feel? What is its texture like? How does it move? How does it smell? Spend an extra few moments really noticing these things.
6. Study A Plant
Plants and flowers make a wonderful subject for mindfulness meditation. Sit yourself somewhere quiet and begin with noticing the breath. Now, find a plant or flower to focus on; observe it. Pay attention to each part it in turn. How do the leaves and petals look in this moment? Are they flat, curved or twisted? Are the edges smooth or jagged? As with any meditation, your mind may begin to wander. Let this happen, notice it, return to the breath and then continue with your observation.
The sounds present in nature are so mindful and soothing that we listen to recordings of them to send us off to sleep! If you are out in the garden you can listen to them for real. Just close your eyes and notice the sound happening around you, you might even want to lie in semi-supine on the grass if the weather is nice enough! If the weather is not so nice and it is raining, even better. There is no sound I find more comforting than that of rainfall or running water. Sit by an open window or under an umbrella and have a moment to yourself with the raindrops echoing gently in your ears.
By Chris Thomson
The garden is also a wonderful place to show gratitude. Gratitude can also be expressed in many other ways: 6 Ways to Show Gratitude
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