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Ditch the Garden To-Do List
find peace in the garden.

Fran Sorin

If you’re one of those folks who’d like to garden but just can’t allocate huge chunks of time to doing it, I’ve got some good news for you. Even if you garden in 30 minute chunks, you can still get a lot out of benefits from it—including creating a lovely garden.

10 Tips on How to Garden in 30 Minutes or Less

1. Set your intent before you go into the garden that the time spent there will be a practice in mindfulness….no different than if you were going to practice yoga or meditation.

Your attitude has everything to do with how much you’ll benefit from gardening in small amounts of time. Think of your time in the garden as ‘Sacred Time’

    2. Do not multi-task. Rather, select one area to work on. Don’t let your mind play tricks on you and tell you that you can do a little weeding, planting and pruning. You’ll walk away feeling frustrated and disheartened if you try to get too many things done.

    3. Only bring the tools in the garden that you’ll need. Keeping it simple and minimalist is part of this practice.

    4. Turn off all phones and technology and allow for no interruptions. This is your quiet, sacred time.  If you were meditating or taking a yoga class, you wouldn’t allow your kids, spouse, or friends to interrupt you. Don’t allow it in the garden either. If need be, set a timer to let you know when your time is up.

    5. Once in the garden, stand erect, stretch, take 3 deep breaths in and out.

    6. Pause for a moment to awaken your senses: look around you, touch some leaves or bark, listen to the sounds.  Believe it or not, a moment of doing this awakening of your senses ‘with intent’ will open your heart, help stop the inner chatter, and get you into a more grounded place.

    7. Whatever task you select to do in the garden, stay focused on it and do it well. Remember, it’s not what you do; it’s how you do it. Weeding can be a great deal of fun when you’re on all fours and allow yourself to feel the roots being uprooted as they come out of the soil.

    8. Practice mindful gardening. If you find your mind wandering and racing about ‘things to do’ today, pull it back and simply focus on what you’re doing- just like you would in meditation where you focus on the breath. So, for example, if you’re pulling weeds and are thinking of the errands you need to do before going to work, gently return your mind to the weeding and say something like “I’m weeding and enjoying every minute of helping to create a thriving, beautiful garden.”

    9. Be aware of your body and practice feeling connected to it while gardening.  Feel your hands in the dirt, your knees on the grass, etc. Use the time – if you want- to bend stretch and even do yoga poses. When I’m weeding on all fours, I often go into downward dog for a few minutes just to limber my body up.

    10. When the timer goes off, take a moment to experience and acknowledge feelings of gratefulness for having the opportunity to connect with nature in such a profound way.

Here are 10 Benefits you’ll get from Gardening in 30 Minute or Less

1. It’s a vehicle for people – especially  for extremely busy individuals, perfectionists and over-achievers who up until now thought that they would need to spend lots of time and master the art of gardening –to ‘let go’ and enjoy gardening in short spurts of time.

2. It’s a tool for focusing in and sharpening your concentration. Rather than multi-tasking, when you work on only one thing at a time, your mind is not filled with clutter and is able to go deep and concentrate.

3. Being in the garden has a significant positive impact on your mood. Research shows that plants and flowers improves our moods, concentration and productivity, while it minimizes stress, help us feel less anxious, more optimistic and safer. Spending 30 minutes in the garden sure beats Prozac and/or therapy.

4. Pausing, taking deep breaths, and slowing down have a positive impact on your health. It slows your pulse and lowers your blood pressure, clears your mind, and awakens your senses.

5. It’s an opportunity to get physical activity and connect with your body.

6. Humankind’s need to connect with nature is wired in us; it’s part of who we are. When we connect with nature, it transports us to a soul-centric place where we can experience grace and a sense of ‘oneness’ with the universe. It can be a gateway to spirituality.

7. Being in the garden can help access creativity. The combination of working with our hands and being in nature makes it easy to get into a state of flow or have a peak experience. This is where your creative spirit is ripe for picking and you experience feelings of being outside of ordinary consciousness.

8. Experience feelings of pride and productivity. It’s pretty amazing what you can do in 30 minutes when you’re calm and focused. If you weed a part of the vegetable patch before you start your hectic day, it’s a great feeling of being productive and getting something concrete accomplished.

9. Experience a nurturing relationship. Gardening is all about relating to and nurturing plants (and them nurturing us). Even when staking flowers or tomato plants, you are making contact with them.

10. Feeling grateful- Studies continue to show how the practice of gratitude is one of the key factors in determining if you experience a joyful life. When you take a moment to express the gratitude before leaving the garden, it will have an impact on your entire day.

About Fran Sorin: Fran Sorin is a long time garden correspondent for CBS Radio News and the garden columnist for USA Today Weekend. She gardens in Philadelphia. Fran is the author of Digging Deep a ground-breaking book on returning fun and relaxation to our gardens. Newly published, Digging Deep is a re-release of her book, which marks the 10th anniversary of the original publication date. Fran says now more than 10 years ago these theories are garden-critical. Find Digging Deep wherever fine books are sold.

Posted March 13, 2015


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