I am no gardener but I found a new way to tend my plot this morning which has left me feeling calm, and looking forward to doing some more. This is not the norm.
On my ‘essential’ list for the day were ‘meditate’ and ‘sort out pots’ – the pots being my few containers of marigolds which have been horribly neglected.
There was less than an hour before I had to go out and say goodbye to any possible pot and meditation time. That didn’t feel like long enough to do either of them properly.
A Helpful Gift
Then I remembered a gift I’d been given by K, in my meditation group. She’d presented us all with a copy of Exercise 6: A Deadheading Meditation from a lovely book, The Art of Mindful Gardening by Ark Redwood. I had stuffed my copy into the back of a notebook, thinking quietly, ‘…this isn’t for me’.
And now I was being offered a chance to multi-task in a mindful and productive way. I read the instructions: ‘…stand in front of the plant you wish to work on…bring your awareness to your breath and posture…when you feel centred and calm…mindfully pick up your secateurs…regard the plant…this is a process in which the two of you are involved…’
Okay… This would be quite a change from dashing out, snipping furiously and rushing off to do something less garden-y.
Take Time to Breathe
I stood by my marigold pot, breathed and gradually became aware of the flowers. The richness of gold, orange and garnet petals with their serrated edges, the feathery leaves. How gorgeous, what a cheerful splash of vibrancy.
I snipped a few deadheads and noticed the sharp, sappy smell wafting up. Snipped a few more. Was it my imagination, or was the little cluster starting to look more relaxed, freer?
The cat came to join me, rubbing my hand as I manoeuvred my snippers. Instead of pushing her away, I took a moment to tickle her ears. Satisfied, she plopped down in the shade.
The thought came: ‘This is pure enjoyment.’ The whole process had a truly meditative quality.
First Start, then Follow your Inspiration
Inspired, I moved on to a rambling rose entangled in a mass of honeysuckle and purple clematis hanging over the neighbour’s fence. Generally, I’d look at that morass of greenery, shake my head and leave it.
Today, I wriggled my way in among the branches and pulled down a twisting stem of late roses. Face to face with the tiny flowers, I could see the detail I’d never notice from a distance – the intense apricot in the bud, which is no bigger than a pea, and which turns to creamy off-white when the tiny frilled medallion of a flower opens. Subtle fragrance was all around me.
A grey-green clematis creeper twined its way through the brighter leaves, and I found myself entranced by the head of a climbing hydrangea, a mix of seed heads and tiny open green flowers, trembling slightly as I reached round them to snip away at the roses.
Who would think that a numinous moment awaited in the shrubbery?
All you gardeners know this already. But for someone whose usual feeling about the garden is that I like sitting in it, but nothing grows for me, and keeping it tidy is just another chore, this was an unlooked for delight.
Respect to Marigolds
The final instruction of the Deadheading Meditation is the bit I like best: ‘When you feel satisfied that you have accomplished this practice, gently bow to the flower, and smile.’
How pleasurable to take a brief moment to make that communication with nature.
Half an hour had passed. Pots sorted. Meditation accomplished. And this is how mindfulness enters into daily life.