My tagline on both my blog and Instagram account is “mindful allotmenteer”. For those who do not know what I mean by this, I thought it would be useful to give an explanation.
Mindfulness has become quite popular over the last 10 years, in both secular and spiritual terms. If you haven’t heard of it before, a simple explanation is to be in the present moment, and to have total awareness without judging what we are thinking or feeling.
I learned the practice of mindfulness from the local Buddhist community in Leeds. However, you don’t have to be a Buddhist to do this (I’m not). It is a practice of being completely present. There is a misconception that to be mindful is to be happy. This isn’t accurate. It is to have an awareness of self, that is even when the present moment is unpleasant or painful. This is in the knowledge that it will not last, feelings and thoughts are transient and will pass. This also occurs when the experience is perceived as pleasant. However, this gives us the opportunity to practice gratitude.
Like many, I am a busy person. Probably too busy. I’m a wife, a mother and I have a stressful job which can be emotionally draining. I also have other volunteer roles and study commitments. I sometimes felt like a hamster on a wheel. Constantly going from one role to another. However, the allotment gives me some space. It isn’t about growing food or saving money (which are huge benefits). Being at the allotment is a totally mindful and sensory experience. Someone asked me the other day if I found the allotment to be therapeutic, the answer would be a wholehearted “yes”. I don’t think that it is just being at the plot, I feel equally at peace when I’m in my greenhouse, or planting things in the garden. It is one of the activities that keeps me well, a true example of self-care.
I often find that if I need some help to wind down or to put my working day behind me, spending some time checking on my plants or getting my hands dirty is grounding. When I first began trying “mindfulness” I often felt quite distracted and found myself struggling to “quieten my mind. However, as gardening and allotmenteering is a sensory pastime, I find it easier to focus on these senses and experience the moment. I’ll give you some examples of what I mean (I’m not sure that I’m getting this across very well!).
Being aware of…….
The change of temperature as I walk into the greenhouse.
The smell of the tomato plants as I walk past them and prune them.
The sound of bird song.
Watching the bumblebees who seem to be so big and fluffy that their wings look too small to keep them in the air.
Watching the sunflowers over the day as they track the sun.
The sensation of putting my hands I the soil.
Watching the whole plot look vibrant after a rain shower.
Feeling the leaves crunch under my feet as Autumn gets underway.
Podding fresh peas and eating them on the plot.
The smell of sweetpeas.
The feel of stinging nettles when I haven’t put gloves on.
Marvelling every single time I see seeds germinating.
Feeling the sun, rain or freezing cold on my skin.
The smell of freshly harvested carrots.
The taste of sweetcorn cooked within 10 minutes of harvest.
Watching the cheeky robin who is trying steal worms when my back is turned after preparing a bed for planting.
Watching my children as they engage with growing veggies and the squeals of excitement when they have harvested them.
Weeding, Weeding and more weeding.
I would encourage anyone to try it. Enjoy the moment.
All the best Tx