About a year ago, I left city life behind to live where the grass is a little greener.
Someplace where there actually is grass.
I had the casual notion that we’d be self-sustainable in no time, living the eco-friendly farmer’s dream.
Well, let me tell ya, we’re absolutely not self sustainable. We do not have a solar powered house. And yes, we go shopping to the grocery store and we buy (gasp!) most of our food rather than producing it. I also don’t bake my own bread, and sometimes I eat junk out of the bag.
So, I’m a bit disappointed, even though I realize that my hopes were more than a little naïve. Nonetheless, this past year has been rewarding in the most unexpected ways.
One of the first things I did was start a vegetable garden.
And I’ve got to be honest, my garden looks like shit. It’s full of weeds, and the way I planted stuff was beyond chaotic and was definitely not thought through.
Even so, it’s bountiful, and I have come to understand that some things don’t need to be perfect, because if that’s all we’re focusing on, then we might be missing the point. Apart from our garden giving us beautiful gifts of tomatoes, zucchini, peas, and spinach, I have received never-ending lessons about life, love and tenderness.
As it turns out, gardening is a magical tool for healing, personal transformation and heightened awareness.
Whether you are an experienced gardener or a newbie like me, practicing mindfulness while pulling up pesky weeds, can transform a mundane task into ritual.
Here are some ideas for healing in the garden:
Simply watch what is happening outside from day to day.
Take time to notice how a particular plant is slowly evolving from a tiny germinating sprout, slowly growing leaves, blossoming, bringing fruit and so forth. Reflecting on this cycle reminds of us are own natural biological rhythm and can bring us back in tune to what might feel good to us at a particular time of the year.
Try to stay present, say, while raking, and do that raking in the absolute best way possible. Rake like you’ve never raked before!
I’ve actually read that the Japanese view even the most boring chore as a glorious opportunity to perform it perfectly, with precise motion, paying close attention to detail. This is a way to take our yoga practice off the mat and into the world, doing just about anything.
Remain open instead of deciding beforehand what needs to be done. We might notice that a given part of the garden or even a particular plant is calling for our attention.
Making an intuitive connection with our garden will make for happier and therefore better tasting vegetables, not to mention we’ll feel great for being an active part of the garden. There are plenty of people who actually talk to their plants and treat them like dear friends. This sort of attitude toward nature, especially our food, gives way to gratitude, humbleness and compassion.
Transform and heal.
If it feels appropriate (usually this will be a spontaneous moment) ask the earth, a tree or whatever else for a healing or blessing.
While I was digging up the soil, I was really having a rough time, but I decided to give way to my resistance and stop fighting against discomfort. I received an amazing healing just by letting go. I literally felt my burdens traveling through my body, down my legs and leaving my body through the soles of my feet. It was incredible to experience being supported and held by the earth. It was about always knowing that I can turn to Nature when I need to connect to my resources.
Perhaps the most enjoyable part of gardening is harvesting the bounty of our efforts and celebrating the sights and flavors of a successful growing season with those we love. Taking care of a garden is not just about all the work that goes into it, it should also be fun. Don’t forget to enjoy the fruits of your labor and give thanks to the Great Mother for providing.
Maintaining a garden, whether it’s only the size of a few planters on the window sill, or stretching far and wide, is a process full of wisdom and inspiration. We learn about life, about nurturing, giving and receiving- something that is woven into the fabric of our everyday lives.
We are constantly planting the seeds of the life we want to live and share with the world.
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Assistant Ed: Moira Madden / Ed: Catherine Monkman