The Benefits of Gardening: Cultivating Mind, Body and Spirit
It’s nearly impossible to stay stressed and worried while working in a garden. Sure, you can ruminate over negative thoughts anywhere you are, but it is still a bit harder to do so while your hands are thrust in soil that’s redolent with the possibility of new beginnings. Consider what can happen when you plant a garden: “You can bury a lot of problems digging in the dirt…” (Author unknown).
Planting involves a shift to your senses. Instead of thinking about what is bothering you, you have to pay attention to what you are doing. You decide where to place a plant, prepare the earth, pinch off spent blooms, feel the soil in your hands and welcome its fertile scent as you realize winter has passed and warm days are ahead. According to Hanna Rion, “The greatest gift of the garden is the restoration of the five senses.” When we shift our attention away from problems and allow ourselves to experience our senses, we actually change our physiological response, producing different types of brain waves that have a relaxing effect on our mind and body.
The great thing about gardening is that almost anyone, of any age and ability, can do it, and a great deal of space isn’t needed. With the right tools and adaptations (such as raised beds and long-handled tools), it’s a pastime that people can adapt to their own abilities. Adaptive gardening sites are easily found online and provide sources of special equipment for various physical challenges.
When we work in our gardens, we experience the here and now; by immersing ourselves in our senses, we live in the moment, mindful and present. Nature reminds us that there is more to life than the stress and worries of the day—that right before us, the earth beckons and, with a little tending and nurturing, beauty will grow right before our eyes. Cultivating a garden offers us the opportunity to cultivate a different part of ourselves.