May 3 is Garden Meditation Day. I love that there is a day set aside for spending time mindfully in the garden. My backyard paradise is one of my favorite places. It is peaceful, beautiful, ever changing. I discovered this holiday last year, and I looked forward to spending time sitting among my growing flowers and herbs this afternoon.
We have had days and days of heavy rains, more than 11″ of water, causing severe flooding that has broken records in the area. Although I live atop a hill in the middle of Joplin, far from rivers and creeks, my garden is waterlogged. And today brought even more rain.
I decided to do the garden meditation anyway. Dressed in a heavy hoodie, to protect against unseasonably cool temps, I did a walking meditation, my boots squelching through soggy mulch. The decision to stroll was an easy one. There wasn’t a dry surface to sit on.
I found beauty everywhere, in spite of an excess of water and gray, overcast skies. As I slowly walked through the garden, I practiced mindfulness by using short meditative poems called gathas. Pronounced gattas, these verses are recited during routine activities throughout the day. They are designed to return us to the present moment, helping us to be more mindful and aware.
In his book Peace is Every Breath, Thich Nhat Hanh writes, “When we settle into the present moment, we can see beauties and wonders right before our eyes. Reciting gathas is one way to help us dwell in the present moment.”
My mind wanted to compare the garden to last spring’s lush, abundant growth. Many days of rain this season along with a lack of warmth and sunshine has set the plants back. But that wasn’t being mindful. That was last year’s garden. I brought my mind back to this present garden, here in this moment. And it was perfect, just as it was.
Peace surrounded me. I trust what is. The sunshine will return. The garden will thrive. It is exactly as it should be and all is well, with the garden and with my soul.
I picked a sprig of fresh lemon balm for my evening tea. After quieting my mind and deepening my appreciation for my gorgeous garden, I couldn’t think of a more fitting way to end my day than by sipping hot lemon balm tea, and enjoying a slice of raw vegan carrot cake.
This cup of tea in my hand, mindfulness held perfectly. My mind and body dwell in the very here and now.