As we head into the colder seasons, I thought back to Spring and Summer this year and how I had fallen in love with gardening.
When I was feeling lost, useless and terrified of what the future holds, I found gardening and through that – mindfulness.
Whilst my world was feeling rocky and dark, the garden was blooming. I saw new life popping up all over, I could smell fresh grass, herbs and floral scents. I saw and heard the buzzing bees, the rustle of leaves in the wind and the whistle of birds. I felt calm and collected for the period of time I spent pruning, weeding and planting.
I hadn’t thought of it as mindfulness, until a recent therapy session where I was encouraged to practise the mental state of mindfulness. I realised I had been subconsciously practising it through gardening.
Mindfulness is focusing your awareness on the present moment, whilst calmly acknowledging and accepting your feelings and thoughts and is encouraged as a useful tool to focus the mind.
Whilst in the garden, I had done that exactly. I was focused solely on that moment, the thoughts of everything else going on around me were dipping in and out of my consciousness but I felt like they passed through me. I accepted my thoughts, my feelings and I was focusing on what I was doing, the feeling of the soil, the sounds of the wind and birds. I was enjoying myself in the present moment and feeling connected to my surroundings.
Seeing delicate stems grow from seedlings I had sown, lifting them by their leaves, dividing them into new pots and eventually seeing flowers bloom, my mind absorbed the act of gardening and switched off from the noisy unwelcome thoughts. My greenhouse became my sanctuary.
Mindfulness is about being fully aware of the world around you and being fully engaged with your senses, so gardening feels like the perfect match. Reconnecting you to the world, to nature.
We can all try this form of mindfulness, nature is all around us. Whether you are fortunate enough to have a garden, a small patch of greenery, a yard corner of herbs, or a collection of indoor plants – the beauty of gardening is that it is accessible for everyone. If you don’t have an outdoor space, why not research allotments, or volunteering at a community gardens or national trust to find your moment of zen?
We live such a fast-paced life, long hours facing a computer, stressful commutes, pressures, deadlines, followed by social media and daily chores when at home. I feel we need to strip it back, find ourselves and find our moment of calm. I found this in gardening and I am already thinking of ways I can continue throughout the winter months – I’ve found my place of zen and I’m not ready to give that up in the coming seasons.
“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” Audrey Hepburn