Gardening as Meditation?
Updated: Jun 13, 2021
At certain times in my life, I can become an out of practice with my meditation. I love meditation and what it does for me, but it doesn’t always come easily. Recently, one of my dogs has been a handful. She is now in her “teenage years” and apparently doesn’t know the difference between a dog toy and a pillow. So leaving her alone is a crap shoot. She could be fine, but then again there’s always that chance that you’ll come home to the stuffing of the couch spread about the living room floor like the guts of her latest dog toy. Which by the way recently happened.
So last week I was hopeful when I had to leave her in the house to go check on a few things. When I entered the kitchen and neither dog was there to greet me I immediately knew the odds of all being well were dwindling by the second. Sure enough, there were the remains of a throw pillow spread all of the living room. And only over a fifteen minute time span too! Dog 5- pillows-0. You’d think I would have learned my lesson, but apparently, I’m not there yet. After cleaning up the incredibly amount of fluff that was stuffed in that little pillow (seriously, it’s amazing how it all fits), I put her in her mobile kennel (also known as the car) so I could get back to fall cleanup in the garden. This is when the little voice in my head told me to practice presence.
Presence as a form of meditation is not a new thing. It is precisely why many avid gardeners love to garden. Weather you know it or not, staying in the present moment is a totally valid form of meditation. Making a point of clearing your head by listening to what’s going on around you- the birds, bees, wind, rustling of leaves; as well as your actions- cutting plants back, weeding, deadheading gets your thoughts out of your head and into the present moment.
It’s not easy as it sounds. It’s much easier to sit there cutting back plants thinking about how bad your dog was for chewing up the pillow and worry about what you’re going to do with her. Of course this type of thinking is neither here nor there. Really sitting in presence by watching each snip of the pruners and mindfully cleaning up the garden while thinking of each action deliberately helps you to clear your head of unhealthy thinking and get back to center. It helps to make more deliberate decisions, stay in the now and clear your anger more quickly.
Most of us already know that meditation has a ton of benefits. It reduces stress, reduces high blood pressure, increases the ability to concentrate, helps with depression and insomnia. It also helps with improving brain function, decreasing anxiety and improves breathing and heart rates. Some even say that it improves metabolism helping you to lose weight, reduces aging and increases immunity. It personally helps me by keeping me out of my head and unhealthy thought patterns, helps me to be more optimistic and self-accepting and helps me to be more relaxed overall. It is amazing how many benefits there are from a simple five minute meditation. It’s a wonder we are all not meditating every day, throughout the day. Oh yeah, this does not happen because it is not easy!
Meditation can be hard if your brain is cram packed with the day to day thoughts, activities and emotions we all carry with us every minute of every day. To sit in silence and clear all of that out of our head and focus on the moment is a serious challenge, hence why I am currently an out of practice meditator. But really- it’s only if we make it that way. All of those thoughts and emotions are precisely why we need to do it. It doesn’t have to be difficult, but of course we humans have to over complicate it. It’s really a matter of finding a method that works for you.
There are a ton of different apps that help with meditation. Most have soothing guided meditations with calm music or nature sounds and timers built in. There are countless ways to meditate on your own. You can chant a simple mantra over and over- think “ohm”, focus your attention on your breath or a body part, such as your fingertips or just sit with a timer going and do whatever works for you. The goal is to not let your thoughts take over. I like to use the analogy of letting the thoughts that pop up in my head (and they ALWAYS do) as clouds that float away the same way they came in. Then of course there is simply being mindful in the present moment. No timer,