Even though it was over 20 years ago, I have a distinct memory of one of my Tae Kwon Do masters reminding us to “tend our own garden and not waste our time looking over the fence at the neighbors garden.” At the time, as we understood, it was with the intention of encouraging our group of testing students to work on our own training.
Directly speaking, no one else can train for you- be it your mind or your body. However, given the wisdom we expect from most martial arts masters, when he shared this with us, it had a deeper and more varied meaning than we understood at the time. Now that I am older, I look back and realize that this was definitely a lesson in mindfulness. It was a reminder to do our own internal work, our own inner work, within our own minds. To remain conscious that there is another garden, but the focus here is to take care of your own, to stay within your space. Tending a mindful garden means tending to our entire being. Our emotional, physical and spiritual existence. Metaphorically speaking, a mindful garden can be nurtured year-round. What about mindful gardening?
How do we apply mindfulness to gardening?
Your garden may be a small indoor pot with a few herbs or a lovely potted flower. It could also be an expansive garden. Perhaps even a community garden or a patch of forgotten land tucked away in a deep forest where you are wild harvesting food and medicine. Regardless, the intention here is all the same. It is to nurture…
Patience, Compassion, and Gratitude.
Patience is developed through waiting for a seed to germinate. Also through coaxing a vine to grow a certain way. Or waiting for that beautiful flower to bloom so that it may eventually produce nourishment for body and soul. Patience allows an individual to slow down and truly connect with the natural world.
Compassion is needed for the creatures that try to eat the plants. Sometimes they can simply be diverted in order to preserve the life of the plant. Other times more drastic measures are required. Conversely, there is an understanding in leaving a dish of water out for a thirsty bee or bird. It is also the help we offer to a beetle that is upside down struggling to right itself. Compassion can also be felt for a wilting plant, one that is struggling, or simply just not thriving. Through compassion, we are prompted to remember that every living creature is truly interconnected.
Gratitude is for the variety of creatures found in the garden. The pollinators, the earthworms, the beneficial insects that protect and nurture the very plants they need for their own survival. Also for the birds that not only help to curtail the population of insects, but they potentially help to disperse seeds. There is also gratitude for the beauty and abundant nourishment of mind, body, and soul. Gratitude for the sun, soil, air, and water…all elements from our Earth that not only sustain us but the plants as well.
By nurturing the soul, through patience, compassion, and gratitude, we are open to practicing mindfulness.
A healthy planet begins with you!