Mindfulness in the Garden
I saw a pair of red headed woodpeckers today as I drove down Riverside Dr. on my way to school. They were jumping up and down and back and forth across the sidewalk in a dance they were clearly enjoying. It was a momentary glimpse for me but it made me think about this thing called "mindfulness" and how extraordinary it can be. Now being mindful of the world that surrounds you does take practice but unlike playing a sport, or playing a musical instrument, you don't need props of any kind, no cell phone, no power cords, no apparatus playing Pandora, no books or briefcases or special equipment, nothing at all except what you are fortunate to have every day and everywhere you go! Whatever number of the five senses that you may possess, they will be sufficient to practice mindfulness!
The kids in the garden are taught to listen for the sound of a certain cluck that the chickens make when they have laid an egg, mindful as they concentrate and separate all the noise from that certain sound they wish to hear. If we can all learn the sound of quiet then our senses are magnified so that now when the chicken stops clucking you can hear a blue jay squawking. Some days kids are led through the garden and they stop by a certain herb, usually rosemary is the favorite, and as they run their fingers through the dusty green needles and smell the pungent odor we encourage them to linger before moving on to the next fragrant herb. We tell them that their sense of smell is most tied to their memory and to close their eyes and remember favorite dinners. Basil is planted close by and when we invite them to taste it, most have an "a-ha" moment when they realize they have tasted it before on their favorite pizza.
You see, it is very simple, this mindfulness thing. You only need to slow down, close your eyes as you feel the life-giving sun on your face and the breeze as it cools you and perhaps if you are really quiet, the sound of a woodpecker or a cardinal calling to their mate.
We are glad to welcome Mrs. Ancona back to the garden, where every day she invites the kids to slow down to see, to touch, to smell, to feel and to hear the sounds of the garden!