Much like other discomforts or inconveniences, weeds are an inevitable part of life. If we rid the world completely of weeds, we would also sacrifice the abundance of the plants, flowers, and vegetables we so enjoy. Throughout life, we sow seeds with the hope of experiencing the harvest. We plant seeds literally and metaphorically. Next, we water and feed. We anticipate the final output – beautiful flowers or delicious fruit; the product of our hard work. Then come the weeds. These prickly pests threaten our beloved plants; promising to overcome and smother what we have worked so hard for. The gift is we are forced to continue to nurture and protect with discernment; careful to pull only what is preventing growth.
With all the rain we have had, the weeds are here! I looked out my back window and saw a weed 3 feet tall. It seemed to appear out of nowhere. The initial feeling is dread. Spending hours weeding is often not the first thing we want to do. However, I believe weeding can be one of the most rewarding mindfulness activities. Instead of looking at weeding as a dreaded chore, bring mindfulness to the task.
When you set out to weed, use the following suggestions to make it a mindful practice and remember that you may clear out more than just the physical weeds in your garden.
Intention. Before you set out to weed your garden, set the intention. Weeding is about getting rid of what does not support growth. Be clear about this when you plan your time.
Create Space. Dedicate time and space to the task by setting a start and end time when you are least likely to be interrupted. You may want to even set a timer so you are not distracted by looking at the time.
Take care. Practice ahimsa or the yogic practice of nonviolence to all living things, including yourself! Use tools to prevent any pain or injury. You may want to have gloves and a gardening stool. Put on sunscreen, bring a glass of water, and make sure you are taking care to do no harm while you weed.
Minimize distraction. To weed mindfully means you are only weeding. Resist listening to a podcast or even music. Don’t engage in conversation or list-making. Let anyone around you know that this is time you are taking to be mindful.
Just weed. Mindfulness is doing one thing at a time. As you pull out those roots, you will find your mind wanders to other stories, worries, to-dos. When you notice this, simply bring your mind back to the action of pulling out those weeds.
Without mindfulness, you are bound to weed something that should be left to grow.
Mindful moments are short practices to be used throughout your week to relax, integrate and center yourself. Inspired by the wisdom traditions and science, mindful moments are meant to be accessible and simple enough for anyone to practice. Many teachers and leaders in integrative medicine have influenced our approach to mindful moments. Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” Pema Chodron would say it is “practicing in the gaps.” Look for the weekly mindful moment every Monday. May it support you in finding your center to live life to the fullest.