Mindful gardening requires one to consider not just a physical act, but a mental exercise. To approach mindfulness in any situation, one must consider the intention or purpose of why. The intention of disturbing soil to create an area with what we might consider beautiful is usually done with a specific purpose in mind. This mindful intention can help us create the garden of our dreams.
Recently I read a book by Shauna Niequist Present Over Perfect – Leaving Behind Frantic For A Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living. Let’s face it, in today’s world mindfulness is not how most people think. Whether it is gardening or simple garden clean up, most consider this a task that just needs to be taken care of. From the leaf blower to the lawn mower most people simply take care of the task at hand. We just want to change the appearance, make it neat and find something fun to do. I found this book a great tool to step beyond this mindset and become an agent of change.
As a garden enthusiast, change is anticipated annually. The fresh green leaves evolve in Spring as nature readies us for the next season. An abundance of diverse beauty evolves in the harmony of each season. As blooms exert their last gasp of energy at the end of a colorful cycle of bloom, we should not be saddened by this. A friend who has a “perfect ” yard stopped by as the season was changing. There was a casual mention that almost pierced my inner peace, the joy of my natural garden. “I guess when it was summer your garden was beautiful”, she said. At this point, I realized she was not embracing the moment in my garden. The garden was giving it’s best at this imperfectly beautiful time of the year.
I see the garden daily as it evolves from a simple mulch bed with bulbs rearing their heads to the heavens in the Spring. When summer comes, the garden is in full bloom. I pause to notice spent blooms and seed heads forming. When autumn arrives with finches and colorfully evolving foliage, I still find my garden beautiful. With the gray winter days, the structure of the shrubs, trees and garden art, we should positively embrace our landscape evolving. In my mind, the garden is always beautiful.
Referencing Shauna Niequist’ book, we tend to move through life too quickly. Consider what we are enjoying and what we allow ourselves to enjoy. Do we garden to beautify our surroundings? Are we gardening to feed our souls or to keep up with our neighbors? This book provides tools that encourage us to slow down and appreciate the beauty that surrounds us.
Part 1 of this book references a powerful quote -“Busyness is an illness of Spirit” Eugene Peterson. Shauna shares an experience that many of us are sure to identify with. No matter how accomplished she became, the more frantic she became. Her inner spirit and her body reacted negatively on many levels. Always having something to do or somewhere to be. In our minds, we feel as though we must check things off the list.
How can we change this to enjoy life or even our gardens more? We must learn the life-changing word -“NO”.Not always having something to do in the garden is a freeing experience. There are times the garden begs us to just sit and enjoy. To simply appreciate the present moment and not require perfection. A mindset that can be liberating for many. Realizing this before you begin to look at the garden as a chore is a beautifully empowering feeling.
At one point the author shares her experience of being a Candy Thrower. Quite honestly I can identify with this mindset. No matter how panicky those around me are, I will find something to break the tenseness of the moment. Allowing herself to become jaded decreased her ability to be a Candy Thrower. When best-laid plans dissipate in the garden, instead of whining about what I did wrong, I instead choose to throw a bit of Candy on the situation. There will be another growing season (prayerfully), another place to move that misplaced plant or give it away. It is not the end of the world.
While not a book specific to gardeners, this is a book that touched my creative inner spirit. As we approach the holidays, perhaps this should be on the list for sharing.