There is something about kneeling down on the ground to trim the edge of the lawn that can focus the mind so intently on the task at hand. What a peaceful and meditative feeling to be so absorbed in a particular activity that all else falls by the wayside. Out in the fresh air, take notice of what is around you. Can you hear birds chirping in the tree overhead? Do you see the tiny community of bugs living underneath that leaf that you just raked? Are you able to recognize the nuanced shades of color in a flower’s petal? Do you appreciate the feeling in your body at the physical exertion required to push that mower over and through the blades of grass? How does it feel to run damp soil through your fingers or to walk barefoot on the earth? The act of bringing our attention to the present moment reminds us that the only way we can truly experience the richness of life is in the here and now.
We can choose to be fully present in the moment, all five senses alert, while tending to the yard work. However, it can also serve to connect us to the past. Does the act of pulling weeds today conjure up memories of the smell of freshly-cut grass in the neighborhood park where you played as a child? Do you remember your favorite aunt’s vegetable garden and the way it smelled when you went to visit her in the summer? What about the lone fig tree in your grandparents’ yard, whose ripe fruit were canned for homemade jam and enjoyed throughout the year? By engaging in the work of gardening in the present, we are aligning ourselves with a human tradition and creating a link to our heritage. Maybe you grew up surrounded by concrete, with green spaces few and far between, but relished the school field trip to local botanical garden. We usually don’t have to look too far to find our personal connections to nature.
So, the next time you peer outside of your window and notice that the lawn needs mowing and the tomatoes look like they could use some plant food, don’t get discouraged. Think of it as a fabulous opportunity to practice mindfulness and connect to your past. It’s the gift of yard work!