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Can I meditate while I garden?

July 11, 2016

Mindful Magazine recently invited me to offer a regular feature to support people who are meditating and getting stuck. We are calling it “Am I Doing This Right” and is an opportunity to have some fun, address some common questions and concerns that people have when they are meditating, and hopefully facilitate more mindfulness and compassion in the world. I will be posting the items here as well, but for the full presentation check out the latest issue of Mindful, or better yet, subscribe and get them all!

Is meditating while gardening as good as meditating by paying attention to my breath?

Well, perhaps we should refine your question. If you really mean “meditating while gardening” then you are talking about multi-tasking and not mindfulness practice. And while it might be efficient, I doubt it will serve a useful purpose otherwise. Maybe you’re thinking that gardening mindfully might instead be a great way to kill two birds with one stone and save you the hassle of actually having to carve out separate time to sit.

Well, sure, you could do that. When this sort of question comes up, I like to rely on the athletic workout analogy. Let’s say you’re a marathon runner. Your question might be similar to the marathon runner asking “Could I just prepare for running marathons by running marathons?” and skip all that sweaty weight lifting and boring healthy eating? You could—but would you really want to? How do you think that would work out?

Consider instead setting aside time to sit on a cushion, pay attention for its own sake, and invite your mind to open like a morning glory, your body to fidget into the stillness of a daisy patch, and your thoughts of fertilizer, weeds and flowers to come and go with the impunity of the honeybees pollinating your petunias. And then, when you make your way out into the sunshine, dig your fingers and toes into the rich dark soil and smell the magical elixir of flora unfurling, you will truly yield the fruits of your practice.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 9, 2017 7:33 am

    I like to run and I thought about meditating while I was doing physical activity, but it did not work out. I like to have a time and a place just to meditate. I can not mix activities.

    • January 9, 2017 8:51 am

      Thanks for you comment Thiago. Each of us is different and setting up formal time to practice separate from other activities is always preferable, plus it often leads to our doing those other activities quite mindfully as well, anyway!

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