Photos and article by Donna Iverson
As the pandemic summer rolls on, I am finding myself drawn to the garden as sanctuary. Instead of focusing on weeds, watering, and insect pests, I look forward to garden visits for its calming effect.
In previous summers, I had a garden “to do” list. But now, my highest priority is to connect with the garden itself as a sort of meditative practice. It has become an escape hatch, a way to disconnect from stress and worry.
In tai chi, you learn to look at the world through “soft eyes.” Instead of narrowly focusing in on garden details like tomato plants, you open your field of vision to as wide a perspective as possible.
Next you engage all your senses. Listening for the breeze in the nearby trees, smelling the green emitting from the plants, touching the soft stem of the cucumber, snipping an arugula leaf to taste its tangy flavor and looking at how the sunshine plays among your plants.
Grounding is also helpful to connect to the garden as sacred space. Again, drawing from tai chi, you feel your feet connect to earth, perhaps imagining roots growing down into the soil.
While this practice can turn your existing garden space into a sanctuary, you can also purposely set out to create a sanctuary garden. What do you need? Not much.
At a most basic level, you could create a sanctuary spot on a deck or patio. First you need a comfortable place to sit. Next add greens, preferably those common in the area you live. Perhaps a small table that holds a cup of tea.
You want to feel enclosed so you have a sense of entering a space separate from your everyday world. A peaceful calming space that might include garden art or wood chimes.
But you could take the opposite approach. And just switch lenses to appreciate the garden you have right now as sacred space. It’s almost a left brain right, brain thing...just tune out your thinking brain and listen for the “music” emanating from your garden plants, from the air around them and the sky above.
Make it a ritual..something you do every day or every week, depending on your schedule. You will begin to look forward to spending time in the garden if you don’t already. Allow the calm it offers to wash over you. When you are at your most stressed, spend time in the garden ...not because of garden chores that need doing, but because it offers a place to recharge, renew and escape the drain that is 2020.