Gardening is a wonderful way to practice mindfulness. We care for plants as best we can, giving them the chance to grow. We can practice mindfulness, giving our thoughts room to grow.
Take a deep breath in, and then a deep breath out.
Now do it one nostril at a time.
Otherwise known as Nadi Shodhana Pranayama, nose breathing is just about one of the easiest, most healthy calming and meditation techniques on hand. As long as you’re not congested.
Mindfulness is the sort of thing you can practice almost anywhere, anytime.
Mindfulness is simply purposefully paying attention to the now. And often now there will be a spiel about how you aren’t to think about the past or the future, but let’s be honest – it’s going to happen outside of your control. When it does, acknowledge the thought – maybe you’ll think it later – and return to the present moment. It’s not quite about being mindful of the present (though that certainly helps!), it’s instead about being mindful of where you direct your attention.
One of the simplest forms of meditation comes from paying attention; Listening. Whether it’s truly paying attention to what someone is saying without thought or judgement, or sitting beneath your favorite tree and taking in the sounds of the birds and the wind in the grass, mindful listening can be practiced nearly anywhere.
Mindfulness is certainly a practice. It’s not something to ever truly master. You will become better at it if you work at it, but your mind will always be capable of sprouting an unbidden thought. You will always have the ability to have a negative emotion, or to dislike something. As we become more mindful people, we grant ourselves a sort of step back from the situation. We can observe what’s going on, and even observe how we are responding. Then, with practice, the mind can be in a space where these observations grant us time to decide what path to follow. Mindfulness grants us a bit of space from our emotions, so that we aren’t constantly under their sway.
Listening without letting your analysis and judgement get in the way of taking it all in, is one of the simplest and most expansive forms of mindfulness to practice.
Sometimes, though, it’s better out than in.
I like to start my meditation with a good round of laughter. Laughing meditation is easy! And a bit ridiculous. Sometimes it’s good to be ridiculous. Start by getting comfortable. If you’ve ever had a too-long belly laugh, you know just how sore your abs can get. Once you’re ready, start laughing. It will feel ridiculous, and that’s just what we’re going for. Say ha ha ha out loud in an exaggerated way. Try some hi hi hi, hoo hoo hoo. Or just laugh, normally or in some cartoon villain way. Before too long, you won’t be able to do any of that without laughing harder than you’d expect. Wait for that burst to subside, then try some ha ha ha again. See if you can do it without laughing at this point!
Repeat as many times as you can handle – usually for a few minutes.
Fair warning, this will seem even more ridiculous until you accept how ridiculous it is and let it happen. Laughter is good, laughter is healing. Laughter without a cause or purpose – and not at the expense of anyone else – is the purest laughter there is. It’s strong and it’s there for everyone.
Side effects: may strengthen ab muscles.
You can also alternate this with times of silence. In your silence, after you catch your breath, focus on the feeling of joy in your body. The happiness and excitement that make you float after a really good laugh. Don’t try to figure out where it comes from. Don’t try to force it to work on something you dislike. Just let it be, observe it, enjoy it.
Then get laughing again.
Another favorite, and honestly the inspiration behind this site, is mindful gardening. I already have a great fondness for plants, so I feel right at home getting lost in time working with them. Mindful gardening is a lot like listening, except you’re directing your attention to a particular activity. Maybe, for the moment, it’s tilling the soil. Take a few breaths here and there to really focus on exactly how the edge is carving through the soil. If you’re pruning, pay very close attention to where the blades sit, the change of tension as you squeeze, the way the branch springs as it releases. Take it all in, and allow yourself to focus exactly on only that thing which is happening now.
You may have thoughts, almost certainly about which plant needs what work done. Acknowledge them, let them pass, and return your focus to what is happening now.
An easy way to center your self before a meditation or in the middle of a hectic day is any sort of breathing exercise. As is often true in life, the simplest things are also the most effective. Breathing exercises encourage us to focus on the subtle occurrences in our bodies. For most, you’ll need to keep a certain rhythm. For some there will be a need for sudden force or prolonged gentleness. For all, there will be a change inside that may be as quiet as the feeling of air passing into your lungs and back out again. Energy, calm, and focus are all possible through something as mundane as breathing.
I’ve been a long-time meditator. Going through the various lockdowns and shutdowns recently has given me ample time to explore this aspect of life. Mindful gardening became quite a serious draw during those times, and has become a regular part of my daily Sadhana since. I’m certain that a multitude of people practice this form of mindfulness every day. Perhaps, wonderfully, they don’t even put a name to it. They just experience it as it is.
I have a desire to spread mindful gardening to more people that may be stuck inside for one reason or another. Plants are ever-changing bundles of happiness that allow us to observe all the stages of life. We can observe how the seedling breaks through the soil, and how the soil crackles when it drinks water. There’s more than enough to pay attention to.
In an effort to teach this particular flavor of mindfulness, I’ve begun taking classes to gain my credentials. I hope to complete my certification soon, and begin offering guided meditation. Please bookmark this page or subscribe if you’d like to be updated in the future. If you have any questions, feel free to email me or send a message through the form below;