Take a Mindful Garden Walk

Explore the San Francisco Botanical Garden with master landscaper Peter Good and Editor-in-Chief Barry Boyce.

Blake Farrington

When we talk about mindfulness, we often talk about it as including both mindfulness and awareness. Awareness practice can begin with an awareness of our inner landscape, what’s happening with our bodily feelings and sensations and emotions. And it can expand from there to awareness of surroundings. And what I’d like to do in this particular practice is work a little bit, and play a little bit, with awareness of our surroundings in a natural setting.

In a natural setting, we can be refreshed by the qualities in nature, so one of the ways to begin is to try to find a garden or a forest. Today we’re situated in one of the most beautiful gardens in the world, the San Francisco Botanical Garden, and it provides an excellent place for awareness meditation in nature. Join me on a mindful garden walk with master landscaper Peter Good.

Try This Awareness in Nature Practice

In focused attention practice, we talk about if the mind is wandering, rest your attention back on the breath or find the way back to the breath. Here, we’re enjoying the quality of wandering without any kind of aim.

  1. One can stop and with your eyes open and all your sense available, experience the qualities in nature.
  2. If you’re looking at a tree you can appreciate the incredible strength in the trunk, deeply rooted in the ground.
  3. And then as you move up the tree, there’s a certain kind of recklessness and wildness as all the branches flow out in so many different directions, and reaching the pinnacle in leaves and flowers.
  4. If you look closely, you can appreciate the fine and delicate qualities of leaves, and their texture that’s rough or smooth, the flower petals and fruits, and water adhering to plants. If you’re near water, you can appreciate the reflections in water and ripples.
  5. So to conclude, I like to settle my attention back down on something in particular. Right now I’m looking at some branches of a small tree that are suspended over a pond.
  6. And just taking a moment to let go, and to drink in that beauty and that simplicity, and enjoy it.
  7. One of the great things about taking time to sit and walk and practice in nature is that so often, we run along the surface of life and don’t take time to notice and appreciate the simplest elements, color, texture, shape. And in a garden you can see how rich all the colors, textures, shapes, forms.
  8. You can have a by-product of that in your everyday life. You may start to notice colors and textures and shapes and forms more, which injects an element of joy that’s sitting there, all the time available to you.