Gardening is an amazing thing! Some people see it as a job, some people see it as a hobby. Some see it as a way to make money, others as a way to educate their children. Finally, some people see it not just as a physical task, but as a way to train their mind. The best thing is that all of these qualities are gathered in just one activity – gardening.
People, who don’t own a garden can never fully understand the pleasure that taking care of it brings with itself. They only see it as a job, but gardening is so much more. Gardening teaches you so many things – patience, gratefulness, mindfulness, and many, many others. To be honest, people who have never experienced the perfect day in the garden can never imagine it. This is one of the rare days, which you’re hoping will never end. You’re surrounded by beautiful trees and shrubs standing proudly facing the blue sky. The grass is so soft and rolling. And there is that warm sweetness in the air. This is the kind of day, which leaves you feeling happy, calm and aware.
On the other hand, people who have experienced such day have probably, at least for a few moments, achieved that mental state called mindfulness. During the last years, the concept of mindfulness is getting more and more media attention. There is one pretty obvious reason. It is the fact that in our busy reality, full of long office hours, traffic jams and digital screens it gets harder and harder to be more aware of what is happening in and out of you. Because simply put, that is what mindfulness is all about – being more aware of what is happening inside and outside ourselves.
Personally, I think that the way to engage with the world around me does not need to be complex or expensive. It is as simple as going outside in my backyard, mowing the lawn and enjoying my garden. Nothing connects me more to my surroundings than nature and gardening, in particular. True gardening lovers know that on a good day, when the soil runs richly through their hands and the plants are reaching towards the sky, that is when they feel totally connected to the present moment.
One of the definitions of mindfulness is “the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment, which can be developed through the practice of meditation and other training”. But I say who needs meditation and training? When there is no better way to bring your attention to feel the present moment than gardening. Believe me, nothing makes you attend to the present moment more than seeing the plant that you’ve planted months ago finally peek through the soil.
In my years of experience in gardening, I’ve found that as I pot on seedlings, carefully lifting them in order not to damage their stems I’m completely losing myself in the process. I disappear into the act of gardening. I become one with the plants. There is not one thought in my mind, other than the awareness of the current moment. That is when I enter what psychologists call “flow”. This is a term used to describe a state of mind, in which you’re completely absorbed in an activity. And this state of mind is in the basics of mindfulness.
If mindfulness means being fully aware of the world around you and being fully engaged with your senses, then I can think of no better way than gardening to become more mindful. Because what keen gardener has not closed their eyes and bent down to inhale the gentle fragrance of a flower?
The best part of gardening is that, as previously mentioned, you don’t need to practice particular training to achieve mindfulness. It’s as easy as ABC. My garden, for example, is no rural estate. I have a pretty small garden and there is nothing unique about it. And that’s the beauty of gardening. It is an activity, which is available for everyone. Even for people who don’t have a garden at all. You can always use some pots and start container gardening.
Gardening and mindfulness seem like the perfect match. Today’s busy lifestyle makes us disconnect from our roots, from nature, from the real things. Therefore, people always take long vacations and trips, in order to be somewhere else. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Do you want something, which connects you to the world around you? Something which makes you more mindful of the present moment? Look no further than the green grass beneath your feet.