How to Practice Mindfulness Through Gardening
During the pandemic, millions of people turned to gardening to deal with the stress brought by unexpected changes to their daily routines. What is it about this life-sustaining work that makes it effective for easing anxiety and restoring hope?
The practice endures because it harmonizes human actions with that of planet earth herself, allowing us to assist in the endless cycle that keeps everything spinning. It also provides quiet time for contemplation. Here’s how to practice mindfulness through gardening.
Getting in Tune With the Cycle of Life
The best part about gardening is that you don’t need a sizable plot or even a backyard to get started with this healing hobby. Many plants grow well in containers, allowing you to line even a small, sunny windowsill with parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme.
What style should you select? Terra cotta works well, particularly if you plan on lining your deck or balcony with container tomatoes and beans. The combination of porous clay and drainage holes makes it easy to maintain the ideal moisture levels.
You don’t even have to drive to the nursery for seeds or seedlings. It doesn’t take much savviness to learn to save and sprout the seeds from the organic produce you buy at the store. It takes a bit more know-how to nurture it into producing fruit, but you have a nonstop supply of your favorite staples once you get the knack.
Gardening this way puts you in touch with the entire life cycle. As you place your seeds on a sunny windowsill to dry, thank them for the nourishment their host plant provided you. Reassure them that you will continue their heirloom legacy as best you can by nurturing them into the next generation of Roma tomatoes.
It’s also thrilling to watch your first seedlings erupt from the soil. When the stress of work or major life events has you feeling defeated, gardening can help you regain a sense of purpose and accomplishment.
Focusing on What It Means to Be Human
Gardening also reminds you of your mortality and your place in the world. It whispers, “your time is precious,” and prompts you to use it wisely. The time you spend gardening gives you space to reflect on what really matters to you and what deserves your energy and love.
Perhaps that’s why so many people turned to gardening during the recent pandemic. Dealing with mass uncertainty and trauma leaves scars. Healing takes time, often hours spent alone in reflection, trying to fit new information into your existing reality.
Gardening provides these hours and makes them pleasant. While you dig, savor the feeling of the cool, moist dirt between your hands. Caress your growing plants’ leaves. Close your eyes and feel the energy emanating from new growth. Marvel at how everything is connected – today, the plants nourish you. Someday, you will become food for them, and on and on the story goes.
Enjoying the Fruits of Your Labor
People also began gardening during the pandemic for a simple, practical reason: producing food at home reduced their reliance on grocery stores, where shelves might lie bare. However, there’s more than one crisis facing the world, and climate change is perhaps the most pressing.
Mindful gardening allows you to enjoy the fruits of your labor with sustainability benefits. Manufacturers create tremendous amounts of carbon emissions when they transport produce to supermarkets. By growing yours at home, you can reduce your number of trips and cut your carbon footprint by eating your harvest.
While you dine, reflect on other ways you can do your part to preserve the one planet we all share. Value your food by savoring it mindfully. Sniff and nibble your asparagus and brussels sprouts before savoring the full flavor on your tongue. Put your fork down between bites and enjoy your labor and contribution.
Practice Mindfulness Through Gardening
Mindfulness has been a growing technique in stress management over the past few years. The pandemic added the extra push that made people step back and reflect on what mattered the most.
It isn’t surprising that so many flocked to gardening during this time. It’s the ultimate activity for encouraging quiet contemplation and appreciation for life. Follow the above tips to practice mindfulness through gardening and find your own inner peace.
The Guardian: If you want to practise mindfulness, the garden is the place to be
The New York Times: How to be mindful while gardening
A Women’s Health: 7 ways gardening is an exercise in mindfulness
Headspace: How to practice mindful gardening
Mindful: Gardening, a growing trend in mindfulness
House Beautiful: 7 tips on how to be a mindful gardener