Editor's Letter: Gardening As a Mindfulness Activity (Plus What's Trending On 30Seconds This Week) by Elisa Schmitz
But there’s more to gardening that is important to share, starting with the fact that it’s an amazing mindfulness activity. Whether or not you’re actively practicing mindfulness, it’s helpful to understand what it is and how it benefits us.
Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present in the moment, whatever that moment may be, aware of what’s happening yet not feel overwhelmed by what’s going on around you or within you. It’s about losing judgement and gaining insight and awareness, simply by focusing (such as with traditional meditation, guided imagery or breathing exercises, or by doing artwork or other creative activities).
Mindfulness is innate, but it does take practice. If you’re not one for meditation or yoga or breathing exercises, then a more active or creative form of mindfulness can be helpful. Gardening is a “moving meditation” that not only allows you to focus on an activity that keeps you in the present moment, but also provides a rewarding result – whether you see flowers that you planted bloom, or you’re able to eat vegetables that you grow yourself.
My father is an avid gardener. I grew up watching him grow various plants around our home, despite his busy work and travel schedule. Looking back, I’m pretty sure gardening was his way of unplugging from work and losing himself in an activity that brought him joy – he was practicing mindfulness. Today, my dad’s garden has taken over his backyard – and most of his free time. I’m pretty sure his garden is helping to keep him healthy and happy, despite the challenges of aging.
Gardening has come to mean more and more to me as well. I taught my kids how to grow herbs in pots in our kitchen, plant pots of flowers outside, and grow tomatoes, cucumbers and other vegetables in our backyard. More recently, I’ve been collecting orchids, then re-growing orchids, and growing avocado plants from seeds. But I’m happiest when I’m growing flowers and plants outdoors in the garden and, most recently in the last couple of years, growing vegetables in raised garden beds.
To outsmart the deer that ate our tomatoes and zucchini last year, our beds now sport screened doors and ceilings. This year’s harvest looks to be bountiful, and for that I am grateful.
So nearly every day after work, you’ll find me checking on our garden. It gives me joy to escape for a while and note the progress of my lavender in the yard, or the lettuce in the raised bed. Even better? Eating a salad made with our homegrown greens – the ultimate mindfulness activity!
Are you gardening? Please share what you’re growing!
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