• IvyShepherd

Five ways to be mindful when gardening

Gardening for mindfulness, mental health and wellbeing

I was talking to a good friend of mine the other day. She is a yogi and we were talking about the benefits of living a mindful life.

But, what is mindfulness?

Headspace describes mindfulness as ‘the ability to be present and engaged on the task at hand without distraction of thought’. They say it can increase your happiness and levels of focus, whilst lessening your stress and feelings of sadness.

All this got me thinking. Couldn’t gardening and being in nature be one of the best ways that we can practice mindfulness? And we need go no further than our own gardens.

Due its very nature, gardening is a process that can engage you in the present, ground you in the current moment. Sowing seeds, nurturing plants, watering and weeding, all of these processes are the very essence of mindfulness itself.

And once we can master these mindful practices when we garden, we can then start to use them in our every day lives. We can continue our practices of mindfulness, being fully present, right from when we wake to when we go to sleep every day.

So, here are a few ways that we can practice mindfulness every day in our very own gardens.

Focus on the present

Our gardens are an ongoing project. Due to the weather and the changing seasons, there is constant change and always something to do.

Therefore we can focus on the process of sowing and growing. By doing this, we are grounding ourselves in the present, which will lessen any feelings of stress.

If you feel your mind wandering, this is okay, but awareness of this is key. Become aware of your thoughts and bring them back to the gardening task at hand.

Our gardens are ever changing through the seasons. By using gardening to practice mindfulness, we can become more and more accepting of change. And becoming more accepting of change can then filter down into our every day lives.

Look at the small details

Sometimes our gardens can seem like hard work. But every once in a while, we can stop what we are doing and find a quiet place to sit and reflect.

By reflecting and looking at the small details in our gardens, we can start to feel gratitude and a sense of a job well done. Look at the details of your plants, the petals and the leaves, the wildlife that is enjoying the plants. In this way, we are also connecting with nature.

This makes those big gardening jobs seem less overwhelming. But we can also apply this to our every day lives. By sitting back and revelling in the small things, we can start to look at the bigger picture. And this is how we gain perspective.

Perspective is needed sometimes when things start to feel too overwhelming. When we stand back and look at the bigger picture, it takes us away from those negative thoughts and we start to look at things a bit differently.

Compassion and gratitude will then follow, using mindfulness to take us to a more positive way of thinking.

Bring focus back to gardening

Every now and then while gardening, check in with yourself.

In this ever connected and modern world, it is very easy to get distracted. If you start to feel negative thoughts, bring them back to your gardening.

It’s all about training our minds to become aware of those negative thoughts creeping in and instead, turning them around to think more positively and back to the task at hand. Feel the soil under your hands or the seeds that you sowing.

Use gardening to let go of negative thoughts

There are many difficulties and stress associated with modern day life. If you’re struggling with stressful thoughts, it can help to practice mindfulness when gardening.

Weeding is a key example of this. Gardening, and in particular weeding, can not only help to lower your heart rate and blood pressure, but it can give you a sense of achievement. This will improve your mood and lighten your stress and anxiety.

And by feeling a sense of achievement in a job well done, this will increase your self-esteem and lessen feelings of depression. And when we feel happier with less stress, this not only improves our mental health, but it will also benefit our physical health overall.

Sow seeds of hope

Nature and nurture is a key part of gardening.

Sowing seeds and watching them grow is a wonderful way to practice nature and nurture, and in turn mindfulness through gardening.

The act of sowing seeds and maintaining a garden is the perfect way to foster your creativity. And being creative can improve your mood and benefit your wellbeing.

So, why not sow those seeds, watch them grow and as my friend the Yogi says, practice mindfulness to a happier life and inner calm.

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