You may think of gardening as your therapy or just as your pleasant pastime – but even passing time in pleasantness is restorative of mental health and prompting of a physical sense of wellbeing. The word therapy comes from the Greek therapeia meaning service. Horticultural therapy is nature at your service. Mindful gardening is ongoing access.
One of the biggest benefits of horticultural therapy is the regain of control – the fact that you can transform a container or whole garden with plants and your commitment to care – there is a psychological transformation in that. You can reshape your world. You can build again. You can nurture and act with diligence. You can adapt and survive. You can adapt and thrive.
Beyond resilience, the second biggest benefit is the distraction form pain and woes – engrossed in the garden there is no space to dwell on what has befallen or what may be pending. We can all bring our troubles of the day to the garden but the garden seems to wash them from us as our focus shifts to doing what is required. As gardeners we garden. There is enough to be getting on with. Our attention is required right here, right now. No future apprehension. No past regrets.
The nowness of gardening, the therapy of it, the temple space of it, the prayer of it, is why it is so suited to psychological and spiritual quests into the unburdened self – it is mindfulness in bloom. To be in a garden and by ‘be’, I mean radiate your spiritual self – not just be physically present. ‘To be’ or to ‘be present’ is not just to be there, it is to be here, right now – in the now of it. To be in your garden is to cultivate your conscious awareness – it is to bring your whole capacity and inner self to the moment.
Conscious awareness is the aim of mindfulness – It is also the way to attain mindfulness. So it is both a practiced skill and a living state. Conscious awareness is simply being present in the moment, being present to each moment, moment by moment – that intent/action is the means and end of mindfulness. Simply become aware of what is happening or what you are doing – use your senses to connect you physically to the moment – is your skin warm or cold, is there fragrance, sounds (this makes the experience both physical and mental – it is complete conscious awareness – you are of mind and of body in this awareness of what is happening right now, your spirit will meet this moment too.