Page 22 - Forest Row Local September Edition
P. 22

 22 September 2020 • Forest Row Local
The Garden as a
Place of Contemplation
At this time of year in late summer, gardeners have the chance to rest a little, watch the vegetables
ripen and generally take it a little easier. Autumn is coming but it is not yet upon us. Perhaps we will be on holiday and have a little more time to enjoy the gentle mellow light that becomes increasingly sharper as the weeks progress; the weeds have slowed down, but the leaves are thankfully still upon the trees.
Many of us have seats and benches in our gardens, generally they are used for entertaining (outdoor meals and tea) or for relaxing (sunbathing, reading), but perhaps they have another use too? Meditation or mindfulness is now a very popular everyday practice, useful for de-stressing and for getting things into proportion in our minds; it has been scientifically proven to reduce depression and a whole host of physical and mental ailments. I would suggest that meditation or contemplation, if carried out in your garden, say on a well-positioned bench or chair, secluded and protected from the elements, can be even more beneficial. The mere fact of sitting in nature, consciously slowing down and breathing deeply without thinking about what to plant or which bed to weed is in itself a very healing experience, giving ourselves permission to just ‘be’. After the busy-ness of the Spring and Summer months I would suggest that now is a really good time to start.
before. With joy and wonder we start noticing ever more smaller things - ants, twigs and buds, rocks, mosses, perhaps even grains of soil? This too is restful and healing, and as we observe more, we slow down more, a lovely feedback loop. By taking this process further in our thoughts and feelings, a certain quality might begin to arise within us, one that we might not often find in our busy competitive world. This quality is gratitude: gratitude for the plants and flowers around us: those which make us feel happy with their beauty, those which feed us. The trees: shade-givers, protectors, home to insects and birds who provide their morning and evening songs seemingly for us, and the different animals that pass through many
of our gardens - cats, foxes, hedgehogs, badgers, mice, rats, voles, frogs, toads, snakes (all recent visitors to my garden). We can even get microscopic if we want! we can look at the soil, its constituents, including the varied range of minerals and stones to be found, this soil which sustains all our garden life. By taking time to slow down, to observe, with simple joy and wonder, we naturally start to feel grateful for the living world around us. There is much scientific evidence to suggest that developing gratitude for the natural world alongside joy and wonder is an activity that has many healing benefits: physical, emotional and mental, providing as it does a very real sense of connection.
Once we have slowed down we can start listening
and looking around us a bit more: the bees buzzing
in the herbs, or the geese flying overhead, there is a
whole world of nature that we might not have noticed
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A final suggestion that could be practised alongside those above is learning to follow the cycle of the year. The main festivals of Christmas or Yule (at the Winter Solstice), of Easter (on the first Sunday after

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