How Gardening Can Help the Practise of Mindfulness

The process of mindfulness is currently gaining much interest. Practicing Mindfulness is thought to help individuals engage with their feelings and outside environment, focusing on the sensations felt in the moment, and connecting to the present rather than thinking of the past or the future.

Working in the garden is an excellent way to practise mindfulness, as the activity naturally engages all the senses, and is a peaceful and absorbing hobby. Here are five specific things you can do to aid the practise of mindfulness in the garden.

Ditch the gloves from time to time

Step by step - planting a pink and purple themed container - © GAP Photos

Step by step – planting a pink and purple themed container – © GAP Photos

Handling soil can be a grounding experience. This material is often taken for granted, but is such a significant source of nutrients for your plants, and in turn, for people. Of course, choosing to directly touch soil is a matter of personal preference, and there are times when gloves are required. However, as long as it is safe to do so, the next time you plant, let the soil crumble through your fingers and let the dirt get stuck under your fingernails. There is so much satisfaction to be had from handling the soil that your plants are going to grow in, not to mention a peace to be gained from knowing that such a seemingly simple material plays its part in keeping your garden happy.

Touch your plants

Hand touching Stipa tenuissima - © GAP Photos/Jonathan Buckley

Hand touching Stipa tenuissima – © GAP Photos/Jonathan Buckley

Make the most of your plants; they don’t just have to be admired from the side lines, they can be touched too. Get to know your garden like it’s another room in your house. Let your hands gently run over the foliage and flowers of whatever you have planted. How do they feel under your palm? Smooth or rough? Solid or soft? Consider planting textual plants such as grasses for the sensory additions they give a garden, for example that gentle sound and movement as their leaves get ruffled in a breeze.

Grow your own food

Woman holding a harvest of mixed tomatoes within her greenhouse. Tomato 'Red Cherry', 'Golden Sunrise', 'Black Cherry' and 'Tigerella' - © GAP Photos

Woman holding a harvest of mixed tomatoes within her greenhouse. Tomato ‘Red Cherry’, ‘Golden Sunrise’, ‘Black Cherry’ and ‘Tigerella’ – © GAP Photos

This doesn’t have to be a big investment – just a few humble tomato plants can bring you right back to nature. Harvesting your own food from your garden has to be one of the most reassuring and pleasurable experiences your garden can offer you. As you snip, pick and pull fruit and vegetables from the soil, that are only there because of your actions, embrace and treasure that feeling. Tomato plants are a great vegetable for beginners to grow. They are easy to cultivate and give high yields of fruit, providing you water and feed them regularly. The scent of their leaves is heavenly, making watering and handling of them particularly enjoyable, and the wait for ripe tomatoes to harvest a bit more tolerable.

Plant for all your senses

Man smelling fennel in garden - Summer - © GAP Photos/Rice/Buckland

Man smelling fennel in garden – Summer – © GAP Photos/Rice/Buckland

With such a huge range of different plants available to modern gardeners, if can be tempting to just select plants with the prettiest colours, the boldest foliage and a tidy and compact growing habit. However, there are plants that offer so much than obvious ornamental value. Consider including herbs to plant out in your borders, not only for the ornamental value, but also the culinary possibilities. Or choose aromatic plants, such as Lavender, that give off a scent you can enjoy as you brush past them.

Sit back and take it all in

Garden owner and designer Steven Wells, relaxing in a red painted timber sitting pod he built, attached to a black painted timber wall - © GAP Photos/Brent Wilson

Garden owner and designer Steven Wells, relaxing in a red painted timber sitting pod he built, attached to a black painted timber wall – © GAP Photos/Brent Wilson

Many a gardener find this to be the most challenging task – stopping to enjoy it. A chair or bench may be the most unutilised piece of equipment in a garden. However, it is very important to make the time to soak it all up. Comfy seating might encourage you to stop, but a drink in hand should definitely do it. If you do find yourself taking the time to actually relax, make the most of it. Close your eyes and lean back, listen to the birds and the breeze gently rustling through your trees and shrubs. Take in the colours and the textures, especially where they work particularly well. Take deep breaths and concentrate on the smells around you.