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Mindfully Gardening

Its about being all around healthy
small girl smelling a flower

Source: E. Harlow

I know you’ve learned about exercising your body and I’m certain you’ve thought about how that translates to the garden. Now, what about your mind? Yes, your mind needs attention just as much as your physical body. We call it practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness is paying attention to what is going on around us in a way that allows us to respond rather than react. That applies in using gardening as a stress reducer. With learning mindfulness you are trying to develop a quality of being still on the inside and you should recognize that this quality is always available, even when our life or circumstances feel out of our control and chaotic. You can be mindful, aware, or even pay attention to everything in your experience including anything you experience through the five senses, as well as your thoughts and emotions.

Mindfulness can help to increase your awareness, better your memory, give self-insight and awareness. Just like general gardening, it can reduce your stress and anxiety, better your levels of compassion and empathy, and help you to better control your automatic behaviors that you typically pay no attention to.

Practicing in the Garden
small girl looking at a dragonfly

Source: E. Harlow

Mindfulness requires the direct involvement of one of your 5 senses. An anchor is important to help as your object of attention. It is what can draw you back to practicing when you become distracted. During the practice of mindfulness, you should practice good posture, quietness, and being relaxed, yet alert. You can try to focus on the simplicities of sound, breath, movement, thoughts, emotions, and other simple things.

small girl looking at plants

Source: E. Harlow

When you are working in your garden, you can practice mindfulness by focusing on your actions and motions, the smells and feel of the soils, the smells and feel of the plants, how your muscles feel as you move with the water hose, the taste of your produce. All of those things.

Distractions

You will become distracted. You simply should notice distractions and let them pass. Don’t start dwelling on these thoughts. As you’re in the garden, try and clear your mind of any thoughts of what you have to do after you finish, any emotions that might be hanging over you, any thoughts that may be circling around your mind. Simply notice and let them pass. Bring yourself back to the present. Notice only what you see, feel, hear, taste, or smell.

handful of red strawberries

Source: E. Harlow

Just try it

Mindfulness in the garden may seem strange or have no purpose in the beginning. Many people already are doing it and simply do not even realize. However, intentionally practicing can help us try it and to see if it is useful for us. It helps us to check if the benefits it provides can be applied in our life. Just think of the benefits that I described! Trying to practice while gardening could be difficult but simply take the small things into consideration: all of the things you sense with seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting, or smelling. These experiences are the basis of shaping our mind and helping keep it strong and useful for us. For more information about mindfulness, read Mindfulness: An Introduction.

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