By Kate Shaw on Houzz
Spring is here and it’s time to dust off those gardening gloves.
But rather than viewing gardening as another chore, stop to consider the benefits of immersing yourself in flora. Mindfulness is the word of the moment, defined as: “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique”.
What better place to focus on the present moment than in the garden? Here’s how to make the most of your time tending to the outdoors, and some images of beautiful outdoor spaces that will aid your quest for peace.
Tidy mind, happy heart
Creating a well-ordered space is sure to enhance your sense of wellbeing and peace. Getting stuck in in the garden – mowing lawns, trimming hedges and weeding edges – is a good opportunity to get your body moving while giving your mind a rest.
In her column, New Zealand-based gardening guru Lynda Hallinan declares: “When you’re doing it right, weeding can be much more satisfying than silent yoga retreats and taking a packet of felt pens to an adult colouring-in book. Indeed, an afternoon spent weeding can be akin to a religious experience, with a healthy dose of vitamin D on the side”.
Weeding is peaceful, mundane and satisfying; an activity ripe for allowing our minds to pause.
The power of water
A water feature is a perfect addition to your garden and provides an ideal setting for meditation. Sounds are often a focus for meditation, and the flow of water is no exception.
In mindful listening, attention is paid to the sounds that surround us and the ability to let them come and go. Instead of downloading a nature-inspired soundtrack, step into your own backyard and listen for yourself.
Note: Water is commonly used in meditation as a symbol of the infinite flow that moves through blockages, and meditating while in water is seen as having many benefits.
Photo by Andrew Grossman Landscape Design – Create a Balinese garden
Still waters run deep
A garden pond is another restful space to create and enjoy. This example is rather wild, but works equally well as a place to meditate…
Photo by Yardco Rock & Stone – 7 Things to consider before investing in an outdoor spa
… or for a more ordered experience, turn your pool into a Zen-like haven, complete with a pipe fountain and giant Buddha, as in this tranquil Miami retreat.
Note: While we’re on the topic of pools, don’t dismiss the meditative qualities of swimming.
Photo by Barnes Walker Ltd – Landscape Architects – Find fire pits
The heat is on
Tuning in to the flames of an open fire is another way to rest the mind. The way in which the flames dance and change provides an easy opportunity to be present in the moment.
If you are not fortunate enough to have your own outdoor fire, such as this spectacular Cheshire example, try lighting a candle or get creative and transform your television by firing up one of the many virtual fireplaces that are available online.
Tip: If you have Netflix, give the ‘Fireplace For Your Home’ series a try. You’ll instantly have the choice of three different fireplaces complete with music.
Photo by Charlotte Rowe Garden Design – Find landscape designers in Brisbane
Time for a trim
One study from Bakker Spalding garden centre in the UK found that 88 per cent of gardeners reported increased mental wellbeing as a key benefit of gardening. Keeping topiary trees such as these tamed may seem a nightmare proposition, but the concentration required to create and maintain perfectly trimmed topiary is just the sort of time out our brains crave. The maintenance required demands regular time spent outside and in the moment.
The grass is greener
Beautiful grass takes ongoing care, but view regular watering, fertilising and mowing as further opportunities to practice mindfulness. Take your shoes off once your work is done and walk through the lush grass to stimulate the reflexology points in your feet.
Photo by Hawkeye Landscape Design – Browse stone feature walls
For something different, overhaul an unused section of your garden with a selection of stones. Focusing on forming a pattern can be a creative escape, and once completed you will have a Zen-like zone. Even better, you can pick the stones up and form new patterns whenever inspiration strikes.
Photo by Bio Friendly Gardens – Read more small garden stories
Time for tea
Keen to take your garden to the next level? Take a leaf out of a Japanese book (and I’m not talking tidying) and create a formal tea garden such as the one seen here. It will take time to establish, but once completed it’s sure to spark joy.
Finished gardening for the day? Take 10 minutes to walk around your garden and notice as many details as possible. In this way we are truly living in the moment and appreciating the rewards of our hard work.