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Gardens have a long history of being places of relaxation and comfort. They are a place where the wildness of nature and the organization of human intervention meet. This combination makes the garden an excellent place to practice mindfulness.
We know from numerous scientific studies that spending time in nature benefits the human experience in many ways. Just the act of being in nature releases pleasurable endorphins and boosts creativity. We also know that the practice of tending a garden can be a lot of work, from which we can derive satisfaction and increases in overall health.
Since working in the garden involves actual dirt, it can be considered one of the most literally grounding hobbies that one can pursue. When done mindfully these benefits can only increase.
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For those who do not have access to a large outdoor space for gardening there is still hope for practicing mindful gardening. Something as small as a single plant in a single pot can be considered a garden.
The benefits of houseplants for décor and air quality are far reaching. Making a practice of tending your single plant can still have numerous benefits, when done mindfully.
Creating a mindful gardening practice is very much like practicing mindfulness in other aspects of life.
However, there are a few things specific to gardening that can really help you build a lasting and beneficial practice.
Gardening takes time separate from most other activities. So, scheduling uninterrupted time to garden is the first step to mindful gardening.
Stepping outside without your phone or other distractions and donning gardening gloves (or other tools) is the first step in beginning the ritual.
If you do not have access to an outdoor garden, it is still important to take time at regular intervals to care for your indoor plants, through watering, fertilizing, and pruning. Try to separate this time from other household or outdoor chores. This will help prepare your mind to focus on just gardening.
Connect with Your Senses
As you enter the garden each time, it’s important to take stock of what’s happening or happened while you were away. Breathe deep and check in with each of your sense as you walk the space. Can you here bees buzzing? Do you see any signs of insect activity?
Touch the leaves and take in the scents of the different plants. Maybe even taste a few of the vegetables if they are ready. What is different this time? Have your tomatoes bloomed? Are your lettuces becoming bitter? Are the lilies being attacked by insects?
A few minutes of patiently checking everything out not only benefits the garden as a whole, but it also benefits the gardener. This time is also a time for you to connect yourself to the nature you’re surrounded by.
Focus on One Task at a Time
It’s so incredibly easy to get distracted in the garden. One minute you’re transplanting seedlings and you see a weed that you can easily pull, and next thing you know, you have weeded the entire bed, but not transplanted a thing. Try to stick to one task at a time. It may be difficult, but it’s a practice that will pay off in the end.
If this is something that you struggle with, try alternating tasks at set intervals. For example, you could spend 10 minutes transplanting, and then 5 weeding. Alternate each task until you either finish both jobs, or run out of time for the day.
This type of limit setting allows your brain to relax into the task at hand since it knows that the other nagging task will be worked on shortly.
Nurture Your Creativity
Gardens are a place of many textures, colors, and forms; because of this it is often a place of inspiration for artists. However, there is more to finding creativity in the garden than on canvases, or cut flower arrangements.
Just the act of working with the plant and connection with your senses opens up the creative sides of our brains, helping us cultivate not only plants, but a vast array of creative ideas.
In the garden itself, try playing with flower arrangements and companion planting. Inter-planting different species of plants not only adds health to the soil, but adds dimension, texture, and color to the landscape.
You could also try decorating your garden with non-plant based items, such as wind chimes or statues.
Let Go a Little
You can spend hours planning, fertilizing, and weeding only to end up with your entire crop eaten by some unknown creature. You could go away for a weekend and come home to find an entire bed full of weeds.
Any seasoned gardener will tell you that setbacks are an inevitable part of gardening. Gardens are nearly impossible to tame completely, so why not give in a bit to the chaos? Sometimes it’s better to let the bunny have a few carrot tops so he doesn’t mow down the whole spinach bed.
There are some weeds are actually beneficial to the garden, so why not leave a few in place?
Do your best, and know that you cannot control everything.
When keeping these things in mind your garden or houseplant collection can very quickly become a place of peace and comfort for you.
By making gardening a regular practice you are opening yourself up to experience positivity, creativity, and natural beauty.
By bringing mindfulness into that practice you are able enhance these experiences and make them even more pleasurable.
Does gardening bring you joy and help you achieve mindfulness? How do you incorporate gardening into your life?