Mindfulness in the Garden: How Gardening Can Be a Meditative Practice

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How I discovered meditative gardening

One of the most common questions I am asked is: “How do you know so much about plants?” People then ask if I have any favorite books or resources that I can suggest. 

The knowledge I have gained is the result of genuine enjoyment of gardening and plant care. I didn’t decide to one day become an expert gardener and follow a pre-existing path of learning; I found myself inspired by my plants and interested in learning how to help them grow.

As I learned and my garden grew, I realized that gardening had become a meditative practice in my routine. The time spent carefully digging, watering, planting, and landscaping calmed my mind, energized my body, and inspired my spirit. These tasks may sound like “work” to other people, but for me, they were exactly what my well-being needed. 

I relearned the importance of kindness, patience, and positivity, and became a better teacher, friend, and son. I’d take the stress and frustrations of my day-to-day life into my garden, and walk into my house a couple hours later, less burdened and at peace. 

The view of my garden from my back door

Approach gardening like a meditation

I don’t believe there is any one or right way to meditate, as meditation is deeply personal. Instead, I focus on the result of meditation to measure its effectiveness. A good meditation is clarifying, energizing, calming, and/or invigorating. It can help us to find solutions to problems, peace in chaos, and relaxation to tension. 

If you’re interested in adopting gardening/plant-care as a meditative practice, or turning your current gardening into an activity for mindfulness, here are my top tips. 

1. Allow yourself to be present

Meditation is about engaging in the moment that is happening. How many of us spend our time worrying about something that happened in the past or concerned with the potential occurrences of the future? For gardening to be meditative, I encourage you to leave the thoughts of time past and future behind when you step into your greenspace. 

2. Engage your senses

You might be wondering: How am I supposed to be present with so many things happening in my life? I understand that it’s difficult to be present – especially when we are stressed. One of my favorite things about gardening is the sensory stimulation. The majority of us spend most of our time inside, looking at a screen, and touching a keyboard. The air isn’t fresh, the screen is harsh on the eyes, and the keyboard is uninspiring plastic on the fingers. 

In the garden, we have fresh air, a variety of smells, different colors to see, the sounds of birds, and the texture of leaves, petals, and dirt. Turn gardening into a meditative by literally stopping to smell the roses. I find that many people neglect the healing and meditative side of gardening by focusing exclusively on the aesthetic side of things. A pretty space is nice to look at, but plants have much more to offer us. Incorporate things that smell lovely, are interesting to the touch, and help you appreciate the present moment. And, sensory stimulation is known to cognitive benefits, from helping children develop to supporting people with dementia. This leads me to think everyone can benefit from engaging their senses outside. 

3. Consider your mood

When you wander around your greenspace, replant a monstera, or fill a bed with mulch, take notice of yourself. Are you agitated? Is your breathing rushed? Are you holding unnecessary tension in your body? Are you relaxed and peaceful? How is your mood affecting how you manage the life in your care?

A common problem is people not realizing how stressed they are because the stress has become normalized in our everyday living. Be honest with yourself when you are among your plants, feet on the ground and hands in the soil. If you’re feeling positive and at ease, appreciate the serenity and share it with the beings your cross in your garden. 

4. Appreciate the life around you

I always say: We are never alone when we are outside. Between the insects, animals, and plants, we are just one being in a greater community. I’ve come to understand our spirit as our connection to life and other beings. Tend to your spirit when you are in your garden and consider all the other beings that are working to make the ecosystem thrive. Practicing gratitude daily is known to reduce anxiety and even support sleep, so take time to extend gratitude to the worms hard at work in the soil!

When work took over my life and I didn’t have much time for developing relationships, my garden became a place where I could find connection and a sense of belonging. Restore your spirit by respecting the life around you – a garden meditation is the perfect time to do it. 

Appreciating fallen flowers in the garden

Your garden meditation

Are you ready to turn gardening into a meditative practice? I hope you find new ways to nourish your mind, body, and spirit while enjoying time outside. 

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