Mindfulness in the Garden
A Garden. It contains life, all things colourful, pleasant smells and the soft sounds of honey bees humming.
The garden that we start work on is a vegetable, fruit and flower garden. It is rather large and has many functions, such as; bee pollination, photosynthesis and using such vegetables and fruits in the kitchen to nurture folk under many roofs.
Starting off we step into somewhat of a jungle. It’s looking quite uncivilised but what lies beneath is important. We are given a tour around the land; our ‘tour guide’ explains what type of vegetable lives where. The farmer firmly tells us what tools to use and how to use them. Only two; a scissors and a machete cutlass. Nothing too extreme of course. He kneels down and begins his quick class. His tone of voice and all over presence changes, from what is quite a dominating type in the sheep farm to a soft and gentle being in the garden. He explains that you must focus, listen to your surroundings and take care of what it is you are doing. ‘Go quiet’ he would urge us. He used the term ‘take care’ each day. He begins to make a track in the overgrown path then neatly laying the cut grass from the root behind him and this continues. The reason for this is to decrease photosynthesis occurring on the track and therefore prohibit any future grass growth on the track. There is a method for everything here. Each side of track is where you will find a bed. Each bed is where life is longing to taste the sun once more. His quick class finishes on time, here we are fully aware of what is going on.
The glimmering dampness of morning dew from the grass, birdsong and a long inhalation of fresh air soothes me. My head breaks through a heavy curtain of cobwebs and the show begins. Your mind is immediately exploring and you have no control. Myself and my fellow two ‘work mates’ begin our tasks.
Carefully, we take our tools, decide which path to take and then, we begin.
You find a sitting position most comfortable as you will be gardening for over three hours. As the morning gradually turns into early afternoon, the sun grows warmer on your skin. Ultraviolet and vitamin D motivates you and gives you the inner strength to move more. I take regular thirty second breaks to let the sun kiss my cheeks.
During our work period many factors about life would come into my thought process. Memories flood back. I think about my past, my future, my family, my friends, what I have done wrong in Life and how it may of affected others. I think about people who are currently suffering from something. What can I change, how can I help? What can I be of use for? My coginitve dissonance would unfold. And then again….my past, my future. Where I am now.
Every day in the garden my thought process would function in this way and it would not stop. Until, my daily tasks were complete. It is something I have never experienced, or to that extreme at least. Astonishing! My emotions were kept inside, for my eyes never left the view of the soil. Yes, in time soil was becoming more visible. Thousands of insects living their lives too. They too were commuting to work. Others starting the early shift were making progress on things. Tracks were complete. Here is my path. Now I move onto the beds. I make lines and patterns. They become clearer in time. The more weeds I pull everyday, negative thoughts cleared. The more vegetables and fruits that appeared the purer I felt.
The farmer would come to check on our paths, tracks and lines. He would stroll up and down, then pass comment ‘yes, it’s getting clearer’. How is it that he knew my mind grew clearer? He continued ‘think about it. Will I go left or right? Be logical’. Never was he negative towards our paths. ‘Tomorrow you will be the best.’
Some days I would sit back and let all of the experience take over me. It was happening, things were unfolding. It was beautiful.
It took me ‘day one’ to figure out what was happening. I knew from then on, the garden is therapeutic. I was healing.
We carry this garden with us, wherever we go, and it is up to you to keep the weeds from overrunning and worsening and to keep the flowers blooming.
Words & Photography: Seana Henry