A Mindfulness Exercise for Your Garden

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Connect to all your senses and engage with nature.

Rooted in Buddhist and Hindu practices, mindfulness is a powerful practice that can decrease stress and anxiety. The idea is to focus your energy and attention on the present moment. Concentrate your feelings, thoughts, and sensations, taking in the surrounding environment and letting go of judgment. Utilizing mindfulness in the garden allows you to connect to the earth and truly appreciate the small, beautiful, and calming experiences nature can provide in the high-paced, stressful, and demanding world we live in.

This exercise will wake up your senses and will provide a simple, quick activity you can practice in any green space. Not everyone can access all of their senses, so be creative and utilize the natural adaptations your strength has brought you. Can you see with your hands the shapes of trees or hear with your body the vibrations of nature? This is a calming exercise to complete alone or an opportunity to connect with a partner, family member, or friend. 

Listen to this audio recording for a guided version of this mindfulness exercise.

Find a quiet space outside

Plant your feet strongly into the ground (barefoot is best) and allow your toes to spread out and root your body. Stand tall, close your eyes, and stretch your arms to the sky. 

Prepare with breathwork

Breathe in for four seconds, hold for four, and breathe out for four. Repeat this cycle several times. 

5-4-3-2-1 exercise for the senses

5 things you see

Open your eyes and take in the world around you. Look at five things in the garden that bring you joy. Say them out loud or in your head and let their beauty set in. Focus on all the small details like color, texture, or the lifecycle stage. 

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4 things you hear

Listen … identify four sounds you can hear. Listen for the birds chirping, the wind, or the leaves rustling. What did you hear? Let go of the sounds that disconnect you from nature. 

3 things you can touch

Unroot yourself and walk around your space. Gently touch three different plants and focus on the texture. Is it soft, firm, or spikey? 

2 things you can smell

Aromatherapy in your green space can be powerful. Are there flowers to smell or an herb you can rub to activate its scent? Can you recall a positive memory attached to a specific smell?

1 thing you can taste

Lastly, is there anything you can taste in the garden? An herb, edible flower, or vegetable. (If you aren’t sure, err on the side of caution and don’t.)

Now end where we began

Root yourself and complete three to four cycles of breathwork and end with a positive affirmation and remember you are worthy, you are loveable, and you matter.

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Laura McLean
Laura McLean
Laura McLean is a native San Diegan who is the plant expert co-owner of Sweet Seedlings, and has spent over 20 years working for a nonprofit and as a marriage and family therapist. She has transformed her yard into an urban vegetable and pollinator garden, and strives to connect mental health, self-care, and a commitment to our earth with every seed she sows.
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