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A Gardener’s Dream, Simple Meditations
A quieting of the mind in the garden can be calming and restorative. While many people imagine meditating outdoors as sitting in lotus position on a mat on grass, or on a stone, it’s really not necessary. These simple gardening and outdoor meditations can be done by anyone, anywhere.
For me, a meditation outdoors can be slipping outside for a chance to clear my mind with a cup of tea and staying completely present while drinking it. It can be walking through the garden or nature and observing with all the senses. It can be mowing the lawn without bringing resentment or anger to the job. It can be nurturing plants or weeding the vegetable garden with a sense of ease or purpose.
Sipping from the Cup of Emptiness
I have always admired mugs made of pottery and having used a wheel myself appreciate the care, time and effort put into making them, their unique beauty and their earthy quality. We are each our own masterpieces. But also, I like to remember the most useful part of the vessel is actually the empty space it holds, in which we fill with, what we choose to drink.
Hold the mug close to your face with two hands. Inhale deeply. I picked and added some fresh mint from the garden to my tea this morning. It has a refreshing, uplifting aroma. Which scents and flavours do you like?
While drinking, I try to bring myself into full awareness of the senses, while bringing both a sense of gratitude and surrender. Take a sip. Be aware of the flavours. Be aware of the warmth as you drink and swallow. If there is mint floating in your cup, observe. If there is a fly, observe.
Do not plan your day. Do not worry. Do not regret. Simply breath and drink. If thoughts come into your mind, let them wash away as you drink. Learn to stay present, calm and clear with this simple, daily ritual.
Silent Walking or Sitting Meditations in Nature
Sometimes a meditation can simply be listening to the sound of the breeze or the wind and being present with it. This can be a sitting or walking meditation. Notice where on your body you feel the breeze. Your arms. Hands. Through your hair, gently blowing across your face. Is the sun shining on parts of you?
What do you hear? In the trees do you hear the rippling of the leaves? Observe. The wind through each type of tree plays a different type of therapeutic music. Breath in timing with the breeze and feel connected. Then, focus on your own breath, it’s own natural flow.
Be in the present moment. Can you see the light shining through the leaves? What else do you see? A yellow finch. A grey squirrel. A white butterfly. If there are flowers in your garden, enjoy them. Enjoy the colours, smell the unique fragrances in silence. If there are herbs in your garden taste them. If you grow vegetables, enjoy the pleasure of seeing them get bigger everyday. Water them. Nourish them. In time they will nourish you and others.
If walking on a path in nature, be aware of the different scents of cedar or pine. To identify, rub some between your fingers and smell. Look at the variations in patterns and structure. Draw it in your mind or with a brush. Observe the variety of natural flora. The natural world is beautiful, inspiring, resourceful. The clearing of the mind brings new ideas, fresh focus and solutions.
As you garden or walk in silence, be constantly aware of your surroundings. Be with the process of weeding: pulling, removing, clearing. Be in tune with your footsteps and be aware of the sounds you make as you move. Do you hear a mourning dove’s quiet, whoo, whoo, whoo call in the distance or, a cicada’s buzz?
Letting Go of Negative Thoughts and Emotions in the Yard
For all of us everyday life can be frustrating and angering. To top it off, yardwork can seem like an extra unwanted chore at the end of an exhausting week.
We often think and talk about meditation as reaching out to our highest selves, providing focus and clarity. However, it also serves our lowest selves in helping us stop the churn of anger and negative thoughts and emotions in order to help break the cycle of them. It can also help lighten the load when we are not always carrying the extra weight of emotional reaction and burden into our daily lives.
Yes, even lawn mowing can be a meditation practice. At times even nature must be subdued. Clear and cut for better design, balance and growth. Enter lawn mowers, weed whackers and chainsaws.
Let the ripping of the lawn mower cord, starting of the weed whacker or whir of the chainsaw be the cue for you to release any anger or tension you may be carrying. With practice and purpose, not anger, clear or cut what is necessary while thinking about how and what you are clearing affects the other plants surrounding.
No one can have it all. Do you want space for a variety of annuals, a fountain with a pond and fish, a vegetable garden? Have a game plan in mind. Can you include more plants and variety into the design? Start with what obviously needs to go: dead branches (regrets), overgrown shrubs (anxieties), weeds (negative thoughts), what doesn’t look right or balanced (anger). Aim for what you want most and be willing to work for, or compromise yard space for it.
Choose a lawn stripe pattern. Take care when turning at the end of each row to avoid turf damage with a simple “Y” type turn. If you want a more advanced design, think checkerboard stripe patterns, diagonal criss-cross patterns and zig-zag patterns.
As you mow or cut, do not relive angry thoughts or negative emotions from the day or week. Be aware of the sound of the mower. Stay with that and your breathing. If angry or negative thoughts happen, observe them and let them whir away, cut free like the blades of grass.
When the lawn is cut the rewards will be double, a well kept yard that looks great for the whole neighbourhood and a fresh perspective and frame of mind for relaxing on the deck and enjoying the rest of the day!
Simple sips and steps. Take meditation with you everywhere, everyday!
Charleen Wyman is an advocate for joy, the publisher of Healthy Directions magazine and healthydirections.ca. She is also canfitpro FIS certified and lives, is learning and teaches yoga, and Latin dance.