Garden for Happiness

The warmer weather prompts me to repost this article by my good friend Masha Bennett

Having been a horticulturist in my “past life”, I would like to include some leafy and flowery thoughts to contribute to your happiness and well-being. It is well known that gardening can be therapeutic – but no tips on digging or pruning in this article, you may be pleased to know! Instead, I will try to share my ideas on how to get the most enjoyment and pleasure from your own (or someone else’s, for that matter) garden.

Here is a simple Garden Relaxation exercise (my variation on the Betty Erickson technique,which some of you may be familiar with) – try this after a stressful day at work, or any time when you feel the need to relieve tensions and worries – a warm sunny evening is the ideal time…

To start with, make yourself comfortable out in the garden (if you only have a window box to work with, then go out to a park or any other safe green landscape), and begin taking notice of your surroundings.

First, look around and slowly name to yourself 5 things that you can SEE… That could be anything, for example, the grass, a tree branch, a shadow on the ground, shape of a leaf, a flower…

Secondly, begin to listen out for sounds, and name to yourself 5 things that you can HEAR: e.g. birdsong, wind in the trees, a passing car, someone’s laughter, a buzz or a bumblebee…

Thirdly, take note of 5 things that you can FEEL: e.g. sunshine on your skin, your own breath, the feel of your feet on the ground, a breeze, that tension in your shoulders draining away slowly…

Now, repeat the process, naming 4 things that you can SEE (these can be the same things as the first time round, or different ones – either is OK)…

4 things that you can HEAR…

4 things that you can FEEL…

Then you continue the process going down to 3, 2 and, finally 1 thing that you can see, hear and feel, by which time you should be really relaxed…

Apart from achieving a peaceful, relaxing state, doing this exercise often helps people to notice things of beauty or interest that they have perhaps forgotten about, or have not noticed before, and if practised regularly in the garden or another green space, I feel, it can help develop a deeper connection with the natural world.

Important Note:
This exercise DOES make people very relaxed and even sleepy, so DO NOT attempt it whilst operating a lawnmower or any other machinery! Also, perhaps it is NOT a good idea to sit on the very edge of a garden pool whilst practising this or any other relaxation technique

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