That proclamation was on a sign I saw alongside a highway this past weekend. It got me thinking about the times we are in. There is a growing need for something to center our hearts and settle our minds. Perhaps a quest for guidance has always prevailed amongst us humans but, in this high-speed digital age we are busier than ever. Swept in the tide of Instagrams, Facebook friends, messages confined to 144 characters, reachable via phone round the clock, we are searching for lifesavers to keep us afloat and present. Its interesting isn’t it that as our lives have increasingly adapted to all the technology, the enrollment in yoga studios has also increased? Massage and meditation are as mainstream as the live streaming we indulge in. With technology changing even as it hastens us forward, we seem to be looking to more enduring, ancient practices to keep us anchored. Time to step back and examine our course you think?
Frankly, I think the garden is the perfect place to find spirituality. And that sign could be tacked on the gate to any such place of horticulture. Patience, kindness, generosity and tolerance are cultivated here. Waiting for plants to grow, creating an environment that welcomes birds, butterflies and bees, sharing, receiving and exchanging seeds, plants and produce, working with weather patterns and pests both large and small, are all instructive. Life lessons that expose us to joy, laughter, loss, birth, regeneration, recycling are taught continuously in the garden. If you are not present, you miss the many miracles that take place in the garden every single day. Being mindful becomes the hallmark of a seasoned gardener.
The varied chores demanded in tending a garden, keep the body active. Bending, lifting, reaching are par for the course. Muscles exercised, joints kept from getting stiff, a day in the garden yields a dose of endorphins that satisfy as much and more than a workout in the gym. There’s a well conditioned body plus a garden to show for it! Of course, neither garden nor health club can guarantee a perfect body or eternal youth but then, thats life isn’t it? There are no guarantees.
If you’ve ever spent time weeding, digging or planting a bed, you know how focused you get. Paying attention forces one to tune out the chatter in the head. By the time the task is done, more than the garden has been transformed. There is certain clearing of the mind and a lifting of the mood. Thats what meditation achieves. Mindfulness creates clarity of thought and purpose.
Gardeners follow the seasons, the quotidian arc of the sun and the gravitational pull of the moon. Weather patterns influence our work as much as it affects our spirit. We apply science, folklore and an occasional dab of superstition. Astrology anyone?!
Tending the land is as ancient a practice as it can get and it is the best therapy by far. I firmly believe that if every human on earth nurtured a garden, we’d be too busy reaping the many rewards of this preoccupation to wage wars, mistreat animals, tolerate rudeness or watch bad television.
Sometimes, I wonder if gardening informs my life or if life informs my gardening.
Check out Happenings to find out about the Rocky Hills talk Oct 18 and the two art shows I’m participating in this month.