By Daron (Farmer D) Joffe for U.S. News Health
Raise your hand if your days are a whirlwind (mine just went up). Meals mostly occurring in meetings? Personal time, if you even have time for it, turbo-charged with a million things to do? Travel lost its glamour years ago? And exercise means power hour at the gym, if you're even able to squeeze it in? Are the results from this busy lifestyle already showing up at your doctor's office in a test result that's a little too high, or maybe in just a general ennui you might be starting to feel?
I have wonderful, welcome, easy-to-use news for you. There is a way to slow down, be fully present and find your healthy center again, and it's as close as your backyard or even corporate garden (if you're lucky enough to have one). You don't even have to get involved in building, planting, and tending that garden unless, of course, you can't help yourself once you start to see the benefits from being out there. Let's just start with using time in the garden as a quick (I promise!) moving meditation, and see how it grows (so to speak).
A moving meditation simply means allowing yourself to be fully present in the moment by regulating your breath, noticing your surroundings, and opening your mind to its infinite possibilities, usually while doing something. In my work as a small business owner and entrepreneur, I find the habits I have formed by doing moving meditations in the garden help me to be more productive and successful in achieving my business goals. Why not try it out and see if it works for you, too? My prediction is that the return on this small investment of time will surprise you.
Here are some ways to do a moving meditation in the garden:
Spend five minutes each day in a garden, and use those five minutes to notice five things -- something you see, something you hear, something you touch, something you smell and something you taste. That's it.
You know those yoga poses you keep telling yourself you're going to make time to do, but don't? Do them in the garden. Lay out your mat, or, even easier, just do a few standing poses. Breathe deeply. Stretch. Look to a tree for inspiration for tree pose. If you prefer Tai Chi, gardens provide the perfect backdrop. Their swaying vegetation and flittering butterflies mimic Tai Chi's slow, rhythmic movements, and you may find you have more patience for this exercise in a garden than in a fluorescently-lit workout room.
Walking a labyrinth is a time-honored way to conduct a moving meditation, and many cities boast numerous publicly-accessible labyrinths (check churches where you live). You may even find one that's lined with herbs so that as your feet touch them, they give off pleasing, relaxing, and even stimulating fragrances. Talk about efficient use of time and multi-tasking -- you get a moving meditation and aromatherapy in one fell swoop. Walking a labyrinth causes you to switch directions unpredictably and this gives both sides of your brain a real workout. Many people find they can solve complex problems doing this, so this moving meditation could certainly lead to the "aha" business breakthrough you may have been seeking.
OK, I know I said you didn't even have to work in the garden, but this will not feel like work once you approach it as a moving meditation. Rake soil or leaves slowly, feeling your muscles flex and relax. Run a stirrup hoe under weeds, gently releasing them and, in doing so, releasing your tension. Smell and touch that soil, which, by the way, supposedly contains a strain of bacteria that causes us to release seratonin, which decreases anxiety and improves mood. How's that for a fast-acting workday pick-me-up? Before you know it, your boss or employees will be begging you to get out in the garden because of the positive effects it has on you back in the office.
Learn the top meditation benefits in this meditation video.
Give a simple moving meditation a try and let us know in the comments section how it worked out for you. Did you have any breakthroughs? Did it help you feel better? Would you do it again? Have you found other ways to do a moving meditation in the garden? Share your tips.
Tap in next week as I fill you in on professional garden planning services that you may not even know exist, and that you may want to consider for your home or company's garden.
For more on meditation, click here.