One of those days? When I can feel myself being pushed and pulled in every direction, when I feel the stress mounting, as we all do from a plethora of sources, I take some time out to enjoy one of my very favourite activities and head for my sit spot in the garden.
Many of you will be familiar with the practice of mindfulness, of being in the moment and aware of your surroundings. If not the doing of it, at least the existence and idea of it. It’s a great activity to practice in a garden, greenspace or woodland and having a special sit spot you can go to again and again is even better. That way you notice little differences and changes each time you visit.
For me, my sit spot is at the back of my garden. It’s quite secluded and peaceful, except when the kids over the back are jumping up and down on a trampoline! I take some time to look around, to get comfortable with my surroundings and settle in. Consciously I focus on my breathing for a while and often notice it slow once I give it the attention it deserves. I try to focus only on what I am doing, and not the million things I came to escape from in the first place. I’ll shut my eyes once I’m feeling more relaxed and I’ll simply listen to the sounds and smells of the space I’m in. Stuff always comes into my head, but I try to practice acknowledging it, and letting it go, returning my focus on what I can see, smell and hear.
Sometimes I’ll focus my attention on one tiny part of the garden – what has changed since I was last here? More weeds, new growth, buds starting to flower, tiny insects going about their business? Today I was treated to observing the hint of red on my apples, the rustling of the wind in the trees, and one of my resident frogs hiding in the undergrowth. With practice, you might find you can spend longer in this state, observe more or learn to relax and be in the moment more quickly.
One thing that lockdown has enabled for many of us is the opportunity to slow down a little. To appreciate the simpler things in life and enjoy them for what they are. We all need a bit of that. If you want to find out more about mindfulness, sit spots and how you might introduce this into your gardening group or project, Nuturestore.co.uk has lots of ideas and inspiration for mindfulness activities and other ways to connect with nature.