The Zen of Gardening
I have been taking an online course from Harvard Divinity School on World Religions. This month, we have been studying Buddhism - its origins, but mostly its scriptures.
In the process of learning the fundamentals of Buddhism, I stopped to do a bit of gardening. The sun was out; the temperature was a lovely 78 degrees; and Rog and I were once again re-configuring our gardens.
I made the decision to garden after several hours of reading about the various Buddhist forms (Pali and Mahayana) and their scriptures, which number in the thousands. My brain was too full. I needed a break, saw the plants waiting to be put in the garden, then thought, "I can plant one or two and go back to studying."
One thing led to another as I moved around the flower bed. I planted, weeded, transplanted, moved rocks, arranged garden ornaments - all in a sweet bliss of simply "being." When I stood to survey what I had done, I realized that the sun was over the western quarter of the yard. I had gardened for three hours straight without even thinking about it!
Suddenly, I realized what I had struggled to understand for years. Meditation - a Buddhist technique that helps the practitioner develop, among other things, mindfulness, insight and peace - is part of gardening. How? While I gardened, my mind emptied of all the thoughts that flood it 24/7. I moved to the beat of the garden. I saw and felt the rich soil, the plant roots, the plant. I heard the birds and insects around me, reveling in their presence. I felt one with the plants, insects and small creatures that were sharing this space with me.
When I was finished, I felt calm, happy and satisfied. The Zen of Gardening!
If you want to explore what meditation and gardening have to offer, I recommend these books on gardening as meditation -
Tending the Earth, Mending the Spirit by Goldman and Mahler
The Art of Spiritual Rock Gardening by Schaper and Dorrell