My friend Ginny, who incidentally inspired the idea for this post, told me she “grows vegetables to nourish her body and flowers to nourish her soul.” Tending to her ornamental gardens is a meditative act for Ginny, while growing vegetables instills in her an appreciation for the harvest that will nourish her body.
I believe gardening can feed both the body and the soul, as it does for Ginny. The very act of growing and nurturing life is inherently spiritual, and can be a healing balm to our entire being. All of our senses are brought to life when we garden with awareness. The eyes feast on the rainbow of hues that nature offers, adding regeneration and balance to the energy centers in our body, or chakras, which vibrate to the color frequencies seen in the natural world. For example, when we gaze at the abundance of green leaves in the spring, which erupt out of the gray of winter’s dormancy, the heart chakra is awakened. A bold daisy with its yellow center, in turn, reminds us that we hold the sun within our solar plexus and the power to live with courage and joy.
Actively participating in the planting, care and harvesting of life nurtures our own creative center, which is held within our lower abdomen, our second chakra, and vibrates in the color of orange. We are all creative beings, which is most likely one of the many reasons so many of us love to garden. At the end of the growing season, when we reap the rewards of our harvest from the food we planted, we bring the wonderment of the life we helped to create into our own bodies for nourishment and enjoyment.
Another friend of mine, Becca, gardens barefoot, and when she told me this I thought, Could there possibly be a better way? When our naked feet touch bare ground, we find balance, stimulating our root chakra and grounding us to Earth. Our bodies are of the Earth, and sometimes in the bustle of our daily lives we forget this. When we dig our hands in dirt to plant and weed, we re-establish a primal, and I believe, an essential reconnection with Earth.
It’s difficult to deny the joy that can be found through gardening. When we are surrounded by the blissful fragrance of blooms, such as May lilacs, our instinct is to breathe fully, through our noses, to take in the full bounty of their aromas. Our eyes cannot help but admire, in turn, the purple star-like clusters that form a glorious array. And, if we sit in stillness for a few moments with our senses open, we often find ourselves in the state of joy-filled presence. This presence opens up our higher chakras, bringing us to a state of spiritual connection to the life-force energy that flows within us and in nature.
Gardening is also wonderful way to clear the troubled mind and heart. You’ve probably come across one of those popular sayings about gardening being the best therapist. Those of us who garden can attest to its truth. When we garden, especially with the intent to nurture life, we do just that. We heal. We grow. We rebirth with the plants we tend to each spring.
When I was going though my spiritual awakening, I found refuge in gardening. Pulling up rocks and tearing up patches of lawn satisfied my primal need for release. The over-flow of repressed emotions I had long held inside erupted into the creation of new life as I brought order to chaos. The Earth, ever-forgiving, offered herself to my hands, which needed to pull and destroy, but also to rebuild. Where patchy grass once spread an uneven mat of green, I soon had walls of rocks encircling irises and lilies given to me by my mother, the source of such much of my inner turmoil. Later, I added roses, which reminded me of the grandmother I hadn’t seen since the summer day I said goodbye to her when I was twelve and flew three thousand miles away for the last time. Now, years later, I still seek balance in my gardens. The plants I help to grow offer me refuge, and a place of beautiful abundance where I can find peace and joy.
Gardening, with its cyclical process of life and death, can remind us that we are also continually growing and rebirthing ourselves. As we allow our old ways of being to die off to the new, just as the pepper plant offers its green fleshy heart for nourishment before its stalks return to the detritus of Earth each fall. The seeds inside offering the promise of new life, a new harvest of creation in the spring.