The Goodness of Gardening
Stress Relief Comes In Many Forms
Stressors come in many forms, and the same can be said for stress relief. There is no one size fits all answer. While some people meditate, and others might exercise, or do yoga, for me, like my mother before me, the garden is where the rest of the world melts away.
My mom's jam was flowers. She had an 8x8 rooftop garden in the middle of Tokyo where she would grow the most amazing flowers. When she was at her log cabin in the South Alps of Japan, she would be up at the crack of dawn, weeding, watering, pruning, planting.... She would spend hours in the hot sun, too consumed to even remember to eat or drink. Her gardening obsession became part of our family and friend lore - everyone has at least one story about Harumi and her gardens - whether it be one of a knock-down drag out fight to physically drag a 4'10", 93-pound Japanese woman out of her mountain home garden to drink water and eat lunch, or being spellbound by the magnificent scent of her sublime roof top garden roses that filled her tiny Tokyo apartment.
My thing is my veggie garden. Were you to ask my family, I am no different than Harumi. Just like my mom, I get totally lost in the garden…hours go by, other chores don't get done, lunch doesn't get eaten, laundry doesn't get folded. I'm in my happy place in the garden, amongst the bees buzzing industriously around me, and the choir of birds nearby; as I gratefully recharge my acupuncturist hands in the dirt, soaking up the Earth's good juju. Pre-kids, when I used to meditate, I loved that feeling of slipping through the crack of space and time and melting into the timeless state of Quiet. Despite its being filled with an explosion of sounds, smells, and textures, the garden is much like that in feeling, and it puts me in my place in the cosmos. It's reminiscent of finding that one piece of the puzzle that just snaps into place, and all is well.
The Many Benefits of Gardening
In addition to stress reduction, I love that my garden obsession comes with many other health benefits. Gardening has actually been shown to have numerous physical and mental health benefits that range from boosting the immune system by being in contact with the microbiome of the soil, absorbing vitamin D, getting fresh air, participating in an increased CO2-Oxygen exchange with plants, to increasing brain nerve growth. Not to mention the benefits of eating fresh produce (if you grow food). Gardening can also be a good full body, weight bearing work out. Shoveling dirt and mulch, digging and weeding, and dragging hoses around all add up.
Enjoy- regardless of what gardening looks like for you!
Humans have been cultivating plants and keeping gardens for centuries, and for good reason. For many people, however, circumstance (time, environment, lack of experience) has superseded the need for the primal connection to the earth that can be tapped through gardening. Reaping the benefits of gardening and connecting to nature doesn't have to be big. It doesn't have to produce amazing flowers or a bounty of food. It can be as easy as going to sit on a bench in a garden, or growing daisies in a pot on your dining room table.
It truly doesn’t matter whether you have a big country garden, a small patch of dirt, or a balcony in the city, there is something very miraculous and rewarding about caring for something and watching it grow…not unlike ourselves. How will you grow?
“A gardener relishes the bloom, and with the same spirit accepts the bareness that comes with winter. There is a time to let go, like the trees, to rejuvenate and prepare for a fresh spring ahead. The withered leaf had fallen away, and life was turning a new one.”
- Meeta Ahluwalia