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Mindfulness Garden Games
by Joann Calabrese
author of Growing Mindful
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August Garden Chaos

Happy New Moon – August 16, 2023
collards

The chaos of a typical August garden may make practicing mindfulness in your green space a bit challenging. Plants are producing abundantly and all a bit overgrown, tangling around and into each other. In addition to the usual tending of plants like weeding and watering, most of us are happily harvesting. I know for me, it has been hard to keep up with the currants and raspberries the last few days. And the tomatoes, beans, and zucchini are close behind them in quantity.

August in Denver also means fending off destructive critters like Japanese beetles and grasshoppers. I spent a big part of Sunday wrapping little organdy gift bags around my grapes to keep the insects off. (This makes my grape vines look strangely festive but is a pretty tedious task.)

currants

On top of that, many of us have new seedlings coming up for the fall garden – kale, chard, radishes, beans, and more. With so many things to do, garden mindfulness can fall to the bottom of the list. And yet, we can choose to embrace some easy practices that help us stay balanced, grounded, and committed to daily mindfulness practice.

Corn
Control is Overrated – Surrender to the Chaos 

A recent post on Instagram read something like, “If your August Garden is not out of control, you’ve not planted enough beds.” And I think there may be something to this. Who has a tidy garden in August? (Without outside help?)

So, I think the first practice is simply surrendering to the chaos. We can be frustrated by our to-do list or we can choose to cultivate appreciation for the overflowing bounty in our gardens. I suppose there is another choice, and that would be to plant less fruits and vegetables. It is something to consider for a future time and place, but if the reality right now is a chaotic bursting-with-produce garden, simply embrace it. What a great problem to have! And just know that maybe you won’t get everything done. Embrace the chaos is all of its messy aliveness.

Amaranth
Other Simple Practices

Secondly, no matter how many garden tasks are on your to do list, take a few minutes to just BE in the garden. On many mornings, I bring my morning coffee outside and walk around all of the garden beds, taking the time to be present. This can be a simple practice, but the challenge is to not jump in and start doing all the things we see that need to be attended to. Practice for five minutes simply being in this space. Notice the colors, the shapes, and fragrances (not the tasks).

A third suggestion is to begin the day with a few minutes of qigong (or yoga) before walking through the garden. Find a place where you can see most of your garden for this practice. Engaging in a mind-body practice like qigong, even for a few minutes each day, is a great way to stay on track with mindfulness practice. Because it combines movement, breath, and focus (providing a lot for our brain to attend to) it can prevent the automatic jump to our to-do lists. And practicing in a beautiful outdoor space increases the benefits of the practice. Check out the offerings at the IIQTC website to get started.

apples
Apple Harvest
Remembering Gratitude

Another suggestion is about gratitude. Lots has been written about the value of a gratitude practice. It helps our brains refocus to what is going well, rather than on what is not. If your garden is overproducing, be thankful. What a gift to have so much bounty from the earth. Alternately, if your garden has been hit by hail, insects, or weird plant diseases (there are many), cultivate appreciation for what you do have. My apple tree was hit by hail early this spring, before I had time to put hail cloth up. I’m sad that my apple harvest will be pretty slim this year, but I have so many other plants producing abundantly and can focus on them.

And lastly – this is worth repeating – embrace the chaos in the August Garden. Appreciate the beauty, wildness, and abundance of the green world that you helped co-create.

Sasha, Luna, & Millie – oblivious to the chaos
Lunar Blog Post Series
Luna in the grapevines

This post is part of my lunar blog series.  Each full moon I write about one plant, many of them are plants featured in my book, Growing Mindful.  Each new moon I write about a topic related to gardens, mindfulness, and spirituality. For more details and a list of past lunar blog posts, click here. 

 

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