Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Zen Gardening

A couple weeks ago, two of my life coach pals were staying with me and very aptly pointed out that I have a tendency to spend too much time focusing on the future rather than being in the present. I love planning—and come from a long line of highly anxious individuals—which is the perfect combo for projecting about 80% of my thoughts into future goings-on instead of those that are happening right in front of me.

Do you spend most of your time grounded in the past, present, or future?

Cultivating mindfulness has a myriad of benefits, some of which can actually help protect your brain against mental illness. But for many of us (or is it just me?) staying present is about as easy as keeping ice cream from dripping down its cone on a summer day. Sure, it's possible, but it requires commitment.

The good news is, we're probably all practicing mindfulness already and we just don't realize it. 

As I contemplated my own forward-thinking nature, I realized (thankfully) that there are times I'm fully present in the now. When I'm gardening, I'm wholly devoted to what's happening right in front of me. I use all my senses—eyes scouting out dandelions that need to be pulled, ears tuned to the sound of my garden gloves rooting in the dirt, nose engaged by the scent of damp earth and cut grass, hands gripping my trowel to move dirt and gravel.

Who knew that weeding could be so Zen?

The more I can allow myself to approach other day-to-day tasks like I approach gardening, the closer I'll get to maximizing my mindfulness. (I'm feeling the keyboard right now as I type this, as a start.)

What opportunities in your do you see in your everyday life for grounding yourself in the present moment? And what activities already keep you in the now?


  1. Going wine tasting with you.

  2. Loved this! I'm so glad you found an activity where you already have that sense of being fully present. Doesn't it feel nice? Now you can generalize it to other situations. I really appreciate how you point out that we're probably all already doing this in some instances. It's not some foreign or arduous task to start being mindful when you can find the places you're doing it already. Hooray!!!

    1. Hooray that you helped me start thinking about this and be more cognizant of my fascination with the future! :)

  3. Love this post, Melissa! I used to be an uber-planner. My friends would get so frustrated with me, because if they wanted to see me on the weekends, they'd have to make plans 6 weeks in advance. It took many years of recovery to get to where I am today. I still plan plenty of things well into the future, but I leave lots of room to make shorter-term plans, too. Plus, young children make it virtually impossible to be completely firm on any plans until you actually show up to the event! =D

    I used to be super zen when I played piano - I had to focus just enough that I didn't have any extra capacity to think of anything else. I cannot wait until we live in a single family home with enough room for a piano - I most definitely plan to pick it up again after 20+ years of not playing!