Gardening Works as Mindfulness Meditation

When I think of Sena learning to juggle and find her juggling balls on the floor where she drops them after a 2- or 3-minute practice, I now think of her gardening.

Pick up your toys, please!

I wondered if gardening could be a form of meditation and did a web search like I did yesterday for juggling. It turns out many people think of gardening as a kind of mindfulness meditation. It’s another one of those moving meditations, kind of like the walking dead meditation as I and some of my peers described it at a mindfulness retreat 9 years ago.

Sena has been gardening for a long time. I remember she turned our back yard into a park many years ago.

Sena Park

She is always on the lookout for something new to plant. I don’t always remember the exact names of them, but they’re very pretty. And the Amaryllis house plant stem is 22 inches tall!

I found one article on Headspace, “How to practice mindful gardening” which laid it all out about the subject. The key takeaways about mindful gardening:

  • Being fully present in the garden can help improve mood
  • In this setting, we might also become more aware and accepting of change
  • Check in with your senses before getting your hands dirty

Sena can work in the garden all day, sometimes in 100 degree plus heat—which I don’t recommend. On the other hand, she really gets a charge out of digging holes in the yard, pulling up turn to make room for more flowers and shrubs, and tilling the soil. She has kept the Amaryllis stalk thriving; it’s 22 inches tall! She’s not sure what to do yet with the Easter Lily plant, but she’ll figure something out.

I still do sitting meditation, which is what I learned from the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) class. And I now have begun to think of juggling as a kind of moving mindfulness meditation.

On the other hand, I’m not keen on gardening in any sense, including mindfulness. Partly, it’s because a fair amount of dirt is involved.

I think it would be difficult for me to do gardening all day like Sena does. I could stick it out for about as long as she practices juggling—about two or three minutes. I would put my tools away, though.

I’m beginning to think of juggling practice as a kind of meditation, especially since I started to learn the shower juggling pattern. Doing that for more than 15-20 minutes at a time usually doesn’t result in much improvement—at the time. But I think I sprout more brain connections as I’m doing it because I notice gradually smoother timing and coordination.

In sitting meditation, counting your breaths is generally frowned upon. On the other hand, counting my throws (especially out loud) during juggling actually helps me focus my attention. I see each throw as sort of like a single breath. I still have to consciously adjust my posture so that the “horizontal” pass doesn’t end up being more like an underhand throw. And when I modify the throws so they stay in the so-called jugglespace (not so close the balls bounce off my head, not so far out front I have to lunge for them), and space the balls out just right, I find it’s easier to get more throws in.

I don’t think Sena counts the number of dirt clods she tosses aside.

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