Gardening as Meditation

Gardening as Meditation

Have you ever looked up from your weeding to realize that an hour flew by in a quiet, gentle peace, like water flowing in a quiet stream?

Or you’re pruning a shrub, and the breeze nuzzles your hair while birds sing, and you breathe the scent of a thousand flowers in the evening air, and you realize in your heart that this is peace?

Last night, we went on our usual 2-3 mile walk with Shadow, then returned home. It was a sticky evening, humid and warm, but there was nothing I wanted to watch on television and I’m tired of news programs. So I said to John, “I’m going outside to putter for a bit – I won’t be long.” I slipped on my gardening gloves and Shadow and I retreated to the flower garden. I had four large pots of perennials started from seed this spring that needed to be transplanted, columbine and penstemmon, and a pot of Dusty Millers my father in law had bought for me. Trowel in hand, I carried my pots to the garden, dug in the soft soil, and gently patted the flowers into their new homes.

Of course as I wandered among the flower beds, weeds demanded to be pulled, and so I used each empty plastic pot as a weed receptacle. Soon, I had weeded the pathways – yes, despite the landscape fabric, sand, gravel and stones, a few weeds do manage to sprout and must be pulled before they spread. Ditto for the various grasses, which always seem to prefer the flower beds to the lawn areas where we want them to grow.

As I puttered and pulled, patted and pruned, dusk descended on the garden. Birds sang quietly in the woods behind my back and the breeze stirred my perspiration-dampened hair. I looked up to a spectacular sky of blues and indigo shot with veins of pure ocher and gold; sunset.

During our walk, many worries and fears crowded my mind. I tend to be a worry wart. As a child,  I’d lay in bed at night and worry that I hadn’t done all my homework or that I wouldn’t hit the ball during gym class baseball games. I was a bundle of anxiety before I had a real reasons to be anxious. 

I’m like that now. I worry about everything. My mind can go in about a zillion fearful directions to the point where I feel paralyzed. No amount of logic helps. I’ve heard that fear is “False Evidence Appearing Real” and that’s me to a T; false evidence appears real, and I worry.

So you can image how my evening walk went. I walked and talked with my husband, and we had fun playing with Shadow, and every time a bit of quiet came into the walk, my worrying mind started in again.

Yet as I picked my head up from the garden, my gloves caked with good red Virginia clay and a bucket of weeds by my feet, I realized that for the first time all day, my mind was quiet.  No worries chattered and poked at my subconscious; all was quiet, peace, serenity. My mind was tranquil, my spirit serene.

People go to great lengths to create meditation gardens, and they are lovely places for the spirit. But I find that gardening is meditation. It is better than anything I can take to sooth my spirit, it is more prayer for me than anything else. Gardening is my meditation, my serenity.  A simple evening of weeding resets my worry buttons like nothing else until this morning I rise secure, ready to face the challenges of the day, the spirit of lingering peace offering rest.

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