Mindfulness is the key to happiness, so we are told. There's no getting away from the fact that this would be a highly desirable state of being to achieve. But how is it done?
Mindfulness is simply a word that urges people to cease rushing through their days without noticing things that are outside their own heads. We tend to miss so much because most of us are obsessing over thoughts, worries, lists of tasks, diary engagements, chores and more. Not to mention gripes about the weather; the people around us and the state of the economy.
Many of us are failing to recognise or acknowledge the good stuff thats happening right now. There are simple steps everyone can take in order to improve their daily lives and happiness will inevitably result.
The first step down this garden path involves assessing how you feel right now.
How do you generally react to the world around you?
Are you depressed about things that are beyond your control (politics is a common subject here)?
Do you feel anxious or stressed for most of your day?
Do you feel you are having fun?
Is your list of tasks so long that you can never imagine getting anywhere near the end?
When was the last time you really enjoyed yourself?
If your answers to these questions paint a rather negative picture, you really do need to practice mindfulness because it can improve your mental wellbeing, and this can change your whole life.
Inner awareness and happiness is known as hygge in Denmark. It basically means inner warmth and contentment. Maybe it could be summed up by the appeal of warm lighting and beautiful candles. But it's also much more than that.
Hygge is also a mindset it's about relaxing and being kind to yourself, rather than going without a certain food type or drink, or embarking on any sort of activity that could be emotionally overwhelming. Hygge food is comforting and soothing, rather than healthy think pastries, cakes and pies.
It's easy to see that Hygge and wellbeing is completely in harmony with gardening. There are few gardening tasks that dont bring a great sense of achievement, peace, contentment and inner calm. Even the NHS is on board with this one, having recognised the positive effects of gardening for so many people suffering from stress and depression.
Tending to plants in the open air, away from distracting digital devices is a great way to connect with nature and to earth the soul. Going back to basics certainly brings out the best in people because they tend to focus on the job in hand and push their other worries to the back of their minds. Getting engrossed in outdoor tasks; tending to the garden and looking after growing plants is naturally therapeutic and it really does help to put things into perspective.
Looking after house plants is almost as rewarding as these can provide their own energy. Some house plants are better than others at improving the air that we breathe. The Ficus benjamina, weeping fig, and indoor palms are particularly good at mopping up toxins. Feng Shui principles say that Lucky Bamboo is a great plant for improving the energy within a home, depending on where it is positioned.
Mindfulness is about observation without criticism by you, of you. In other words, you must be prepared to be kind to yourself. Most people find this difficult. We are generally our own worst critics.
It is part of the process of acceptance that life has ups and downs. The negative parts need to be dealt with and accepted, then you can move past them. The positive parts need to be acknowledged with gratitude. Be grateful for good things, however tiny.
Mindfulness will help you to catch your negative thoughts before they harm you. Depressed thinking can be a habit thats hard to break. You want to step outside any downward spiral of black thoughts and in this way, you start to gain control.
Accept that minds can be trained! Approach any sort of problem with a can-do thought process and turn something difficult into a more uplifting challenge that will make you more able in the long term.
The ultimate outcome is improved mood and levels of happiness and wellbeing. Mindfulness can increase creativity; make your reactions faster and even help you to live a longer, happier life.
Nature provides a great way to reconnect with ourselves and if you put these simple suggestions into practice you will gain a little slice of mindfulness:
Train yourself to hear sounds outdoors;
Notice things that delight;
Take the time to smell pleasant scents such as damp soil or new buds.
Notice the sky; the clouds; the stars and marvel about them.
See how shapes of plants complement each other in the garden or if they dont please you, move them to a better spot in order to achieve harmony.
Feel the ground and the different textures that exist outdoors.
See the present moment with clarity.
Dont be tempted to over-face yourself with tasks that are unachievable.
Take a small portion of your garden and work on it so that you will gain pleasure from finishing just one or two tasks.
Stand back and enjoy the fruits of your labour however small.