Mindfulness is a state of mind in which you are aware of what is happening in your mind, body and even your surroundings in the present moment. Many people think that, in order to practice mindfulness, which is great for your general well-being, you must sit on a cushion and meditate. You can, of course, use meditation as a vehicle for practising mindfulness, and it is probably the most popular way of doing so, but it is by no means the only way to do it. Gardening, for example, can provide us with an amazing mindfulness experience. If you’d like to practice mindfulness in your garden or a local community garden or allotment, for example here are some tips to help you do it:
Just get out there
First of all, you don’t have to do anything, in particular, to be mindful in the garden. Simply getting out there and smelling the roses or watching the birds as they go about their business can be a powerful way of getting you to focus on this moment and this moment only.
Chop wood, carry water
In Zen, there is a saying that before you obtain enlightenment you chop wood and carry water and after enlightenment, you chop wood and carry water. In the same way, mindfulness is nothing special – you achieve it by doing simple tasks in the garden like turning tanalised timber into a pretty picket fence, or planting bulbs and nurturing them so that they grow into pretty flowers. The key is to focus on what you’re doing and nothing else.
While you’re carrying out tasks in the garden, you should just do them; you shouldn’t spend your time worrying about whether you’re doing them right or berating yourself because you haven’t planted those seeds in the most optimum place. Things have a way of working out, and the whole point if being in the garden is to be present and obtain a sense of calm – this won’t happen if you spend all of your time judging.
Go with your instincts
The garden is a wonderful place with lots of things to do and see. The best way to practice mindfulness in this kind of environment is, then, to do what feels right in the moment. If watching the birds splash around in the birdbath is what you want to do, then even if you went there to turn the soil do that. If you feel like now is the right time to plant those seeds, even though it might not be totally optimum, get to work.
Let your senses take over
Gardens are full of interesting smells, contrasting textures and unique specimens, so it’s really easy to get into a state of mindfulness if you let your senses take over. Touch things, breathe deep and use your eyes to spot things you might not have seen before, and pretty soon you’ll enter a flow state where you and the garden become one, and you experience a greater state of mind.
Time to get gardening!