Mindfulness in the garden

Sequoiadendron giganteum in Dunedin Botanic Garden. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Sequoiadendron giganteum in Dunedin Botanic Garden. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
It is easy to forget that we are part of the natural world. Gardens provide us with a chance to ground ourselves. But how do we do this?

Two ingredients help: 1) a natural, peaceful space. Dunedin Botanic Garden is an ideal location; 2) a tool called mindfulness.

The simplest definition of mindfulness is paying attention. Focus on your experiences in the present, without judgement. These experiences can be sensations, emotions appearing and fading away, thoughts drifting in and out of the mind. For example, you notice a blooming flower, admire its colour and texture, hear the buzz of a bumblebee, and perhaps feel appreciative or uplifted.

People are wired to find nature rewarding. Studies have shown that even a short walk in the park can have beneficial effects on a person’s physical and mental state.

Here are some mindfulness suggestions you can try at the botanic garden:

•Visit the herb garden and follow your nose. What scents are there?

•Find a fantail or any bird and observe. What is it doing? Is it feeding, singing or collecting nesting materials?

•Go for a walk through the Rhododendron Dell. This is a perfect spot to try some forest ‘‘bathing’’ (letting the beautiful surroundings wash over you).Walk or simply sit quietly on a bench. You might like to try focusing on your breathing.

Plants can help us connect to the present moment.

 - Garden Life is produced by Dunedin Botanic Garden.For further information contact Samantha Young.

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