May is here and nature is in full bloom! Let’s slow down and take it all in – or at least what’s in our own planters!
National Garden Meditation Day is recognized on May 3rd of each year and encourages us all to stop and smell the roses, literally! While the act of formal meditation may be challenging for some, a special feeling of mindfulness can be derived from being outdoors. Experiencing the small natural wonders such as hearing the rustling tree leaves, viewing colorful bounties of flowers, or feeling the gentle rays of the spring sun, has the power to motivate almost anyone to take a step back from daily life.

For those who enjoy gardening, this activity holds the ability to further quiet our minds, connect with ourselves, and relate to the world around us – all the while finding a bit of peace in the meantime.

What is meditation?

Meditation is the mindful practice of settling one’s thoughts in order to increase internal consciousness and awareness. The tradition of meditation began thousands of years past and, just as in its modern time, has managed to transcend utility, population, and culture.

The goal of meditation is to relax the mind and body while easing day-to-day conditions such as stress and anxiety. While some practices seek to achieve a state of “no thought” whatsoever, others occur to attain a varietal sense of balance, understanding, and truth, often involving forms of passive and/or expression.

The act of meditation is not one-size-fits-all by any means. It can exist according to your comfort level and your journey of mindfulness. Be open to the possibilities!

What are some ways to meditate outdoors?

Picture a quiet room, minimalist furniture, and soft lighting. Now imagine yourself in the center of the room; seated, legs folded, back straight, and eyes closed – you zone out in peaceful bliss.

What a beautiful experience; however, it is not the only way to reach a meditative state – even if you are wide awake and out in the yard. This is what is called “active meditation.” Here are some other ways you can practice active meditation while you are in your garden:

  • Be present! Heighten your senses by feeling the slight breeze on your skin, acknowledging details of the neighboring trees, or rubbing the soil of your garden between your fingers. Being present and aware is half the job!
  • Breathe deep. Allow yourself to take in each breath slowly and intentionally. Use your nose to inhale and exhale the fresh air – which will also help to maintain momentum and comfortability simultaneously. If seated, it may be helpful to hold your belly as you take deep breaths to increase your awareness inside and out.
  • Find your mantra. A mantra, in relation to meditation, is a repetitive statement, movement, or impression, expressed out loud or internally, that allows you to better concentrate on your practice. This is extremely handy when working kinesthetically. Set your intention and repeat your mantra to help you stay collected and focused.
  • Lay down. It may feel unnatural at first, but laying down outside in a comfortable position can influence your meditative state and encourage connectivity with your environment!

How to build your own meditation garden?

Know a peaceful corner of green space to use? Transform it into your very own meditation garden.

When thinking of a meditation garden, space depending, one of the first things to acknowledge is movement! Consider incorporating a walking path within or around your garden to enhance the flow of energy about your space. However, where there is movement, there is stillness. Including an area of tranquil influence can greatly help in your meditative practice.

When thinking of plants to include in your garden, choose non-invasive species that are intriguing to you. Consider the intricacies of color, bloom, shape, and function that are most appealing to your senses. Continue your garden design by juxtaposing your plants to some of your favorite statues or garden ornaments.

In contemplating a meditation garden, the most important rule is to do what makes you feel most content. This is your experience and your practice – have fun with it!

I hope you found these tips helpful as you celebrate National Garden Meditation Day on May 3rd! To identify native plants within your region to add to your garden, visit the Chesapeake Bay Native Plant Center, or check out the Alliance’s Native Plant Narratives series for more information on our local favorites!

Use the hashtag #GardenMeditationDay and show us how you seek peace in your garden!