Gardening: A Growing Trend in Mindfulness

Lucky enough to have a green thumb? Discover how plant-lovers have been uniting peat with mindfulness practice.

UNSPLASH/HELLO I M NIK

Whether it’s because we’re spending more time at home, or thinking more about supply chains and shortages, more people took up gardening tools in 2020. Seed companies report increased demand globally, and a study out of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, reveals that almost 20% of Canadians grew food for the first time in 2020.

There’s some evidence that gardening can help reduce stress, increase feelings of well-being, and build community. Here are three recent stories that reinforce those ideas.

Community Gardening

Communities like Sudbury, Ontario, just went ahead and got their hands dirty. The Home Garden Project helped distribute free soil and seeds to hundreds of local households. The goal was to support mental and physical health during a challenging time, increase food security, and let citizens contribute to community wellness.

Ease Stress in the Garden

In an economically disadvantaged part of North England, researchers from three UK universities planted ornamental gardens in residential front gardens. Participants in the study reported lower stress, increased feelings of well-being, and greater happiness due to their newly blooming yards, and saliva tests indicated lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol in those who received plants, compared to a control group who did not. The study’s authors write: “Comparing the data on perceived stress in this study to others, the positive effects due to the horticultural intervention were approximately equivalent to eight weekly mindfulness sessions (as measured after six months),” citing a 2018 study by Van Wietmarschen et al.

Meditate with House Plants

In slightly more dubious news, psychologist and keeper of more than 200 house plants Dr. Katie Cooper was in the news, extolling the virtues of meditating with house plants, to promote her new book on just that subject. Her prescription involves pretty standard meditation instruction—with the addition of, wait for it, house plants.

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Voices

The Secrets of Mindful Gardening 

Touring the San Francisco Botanical Garden with master landscaper and contemplative gardener Peter Good reveals what curiosity and attention can teach us about gardens—and gardeners. Read More 

  • Karin Evans
  • May 29, 2019
Meditation

Take a Mindful Garden Walk 

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

  • Barry Boyce
  • May 21, 2019

Nature and Mindfulness Find Common Ground 

Mark Tercek, CEO of The Nature Conservancy and former Goldman Sachs investment banker, talks meditation, big business, and environmentalism—and how the three fit together. Read More 

  • Peter Jaret
  • December 5, 2017
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