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It’s another Mindfulness Monday here at Alchemyoga, and today I wanted to talk about one of my favorite mindfulness activities, gardening. At our house we maintain a garden year-round as it is something that our whole family enjoys doing together. Our garden provides delicious, nutritious, organic food for our family and our pets; our iguana and chickens especially. It is amazingly rewarding to grow your own fresh fruits and vegetables and they tend to taste much better then anything you find in the store.
For me gardening is like a meditation. From the start of spring, I try to spend sometime out in the garden every day. Of course what I am doing out there and how much time I am able to spend varies but it gives me a reason to feel the sun on my face and breathe in some fresh air, even if it is only for a couple minutes a day. It is possible to practice mindfulness with every aspect of gardening if you utilize all of your senses and consciously try to live in and appreciate each moment.
One of my favorite ways to stay mindful is to use my hands, with glove-less fingers, working through the soil to prepare it for planting by sifting, picking out larger debris, working to mix the layers of organic material that have settled during the season. There is something about playing in the dirt that allows us to get in touch with nature, that allows us to find the curious child within who finds wonder in the different textures, smells and colors. Having the cool soil on my skin awakens my senses and I really do feel more aware of and connected to the world around me and the energies that fuel it.
When we are planting new vegetables, both started plants and from seedlings, we are actively taking part in the miracle of new life. As you plant, here is another opportunity to use the senses, digging with the hands to make holes row by row. Selecting just the right location for each seed or plant, being mindful of how it grows in relation to its neighbor, and its need for sun and water. By taking this time to plant and keeping your mind focused in the activity helps to cultivate a commitment to these leafy beings that you will nourish for the next few months.
The vegetative period is one where you get to truly witness the metamorphosis of your garden. As the plants grow, maintaining their space is a great way to be mindful of what the plants require for optimum growth. Daily watering, weekly grooming, pruning and weeding and monthly fertilization provide many opportunities to practice mindfulness as you observe the how the garden grows and changes. With our garden, we utilize organic fertilizers in the form of our very own home grown chicken manure. This works out great because the chickens help to “feed” the plants and then a month or so later, the plants will literally feed the chickens. Watering the garden is one of my favorite things to do because it gets me outside! It really only takes about 10 minutes each day if I hand water with our hose, holding it over each plant and letting the water sink to its roots. By watering each plant with intention, I practice mindfulness. The hose held in my hands and the water flowing through it begins to carry my energy to the plants as well, so I try to keep my energy positive, not letting the activity feel like a chore, but instead trying to appreciate every aspect of the plants from their leaves, to their flowers and fruits, and even the bugs that choose our garden as their home.
You don’t need to have a big yard or huge garden to practice mindfulness, the same intention can be put into a flower garden and even a house plant. Living in the moment has no requirements, and you can practice mindfulness with any activity that you take a few minutes to give your whole attention to.
In Peace, Ashley
Ashley Freeman is a registered yoga teacher with the Yoga Alliance. Certified in Raja Yoga, her experience includes private in-home lessons, workplace wellness programs, and group instruction teaching various class formats and yoga styles. Find her on Google+