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The art of Zen through gardening

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Yoga and physical exercises may not be for everyone, but has anyone considered gardening as a way to stay mentally and physically healthy?

The latest research published by BMJ Open, dated 19 July 2020, suggests that those who garden, are mentality more active and constructive than those who don’t.  Those who are into gardening, experience lesser levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. What gets interesting is that it promotes self-engaging behaviour, self-motivation and to add least, it promotes healthy eating too.  

This is more so true, as, in an article named  “As people pick up gardening amid the pandemic, online sale of plants, gardening supplies rises.” published by The Times of India, dated 7 August 2020, shows us some interesting findings like people are growing plants and flowers at home and the demand increased during the pandemic.

In the same article, Snapdeal witnessed more than double the sales in mid-March to mid-July in 2020 compared to last year. Whereas, Ferns N Petals received 1,000 to 2,000 orders daily when nursery owners got multiple orders for home delivery.

There is an increase in the demand for virtual nursery tour because people were missing outdoor. Now, people connect and experience the nature by virtual tour.  

Reema Gopalan, a professional gardener and the Founder of Reema’s Garden, Pune, says, “Online gardening classes are gradually picking up during the pandemic. People are slowly getting used to it.” Men and women from different age groups are attending classes. The current restrictions not only restrain our movement, but it is also keeping us away from nature. When we garden, it changes us because gardening means bringing nature to our homes and everyone wants to be close to nature.

Why gardening amid of covid pandemic?

Dr Arvind Gupta, MBBS (BLR), DPM (MAHE), a Varanasi based practising psychiatrist and counsellor, feels, that setting up a garden or plants at home reduces the risk of getting infected. According to him, “When we learn to stay busy and spend time indoors, we enjoy the perks of having a lush green view and the fragrance of flowers to soothe our senses. Most importantly, we get to eat fresh vegetables that we may grow.

Other than this, Dr. Arvind & Reema throw light on how to reach zen through gardening.

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Reaching zen through gardening

Gardening helps the mind to be peaceful and promotes mindfulness. When a body pain triggers the mind, we become disturbed. Gardening slowly takes care of both. It works on four levels – physical, psychological, spiritual and economic.

The physical level

Reema explains gardening needs heavy work.  For those who have limited movement, for them, it is a form of workout right from digging, soiling, cleaning dirt after soiling and watering. The body does not experience sudden shock since the workload gradually increases.

The psychological level

Relieves Stress & Anxiety

Dr. Arvind Gupta shares, “The fear and anxiety from getting infected gradually reduces. In our normal life, gardening can reduce stress and anxiety caused by the daily chaos of life for “Someone who nurtures plants and enjoys or has love for nature or gardening. Gardening as a constructive activity can reduce our stress and anxiety levels.”

“Someone who does not enjoy gardening will not like it. For that person, gardening can be a burden. It can increase their stress and anxiety by just looking at the amount of effort and time it needs. That person will find only dirt and chaos in the process. Instead of rewiring, it will entangle their brain wires.” So if we can change our attitude and perceive gardening as a more relaxing experience, we may reap the benefits.

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Can help deal with Depression

Dr. Arvind Gupta explains the complex dynamic of psychological benefits from gardening. According to him, “Anything that calms our nervous system can reduce the level of stress and anxiety. We are able to relax and see problems as they are. Then we realise why it is good to stay home amid a pandemic. It can also help us deal with depression only if the patient regularly practices gardening.”

Help us Focus – Mindfulness

Attending to plants and observation may help to focus and build your memory. Gardening is one such hobby that involves mental and physical activity. We start to think, follow steps, and observe, wherein the brain is forced to function in a constructive way. We learn to focus, observe our surrounding; what is happening around us and if, what we see is reality?

Positive psychology

Creativity is positive psychology. Through gardening, we fulfil our creative needs and the need for appreciation. The creative spark within us changes the way we approach life; and the way we want to live. We tend to slow down and think about how we want to spend our lives. We find creative, innovative solutions to our problems.

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The spiritual level

The popularity of plants for building a relationship has gained a significant attraction from Vaastu Shastra guiding tips on plants and planting. But the question is, what does it teach us about relationships?

The plant grows as it likes, spreads its branches and blossoms where it likes. We cannot control the pace it grows; flowers, fruit or shedding leaves as we want and when we want. When we learn to understand this, we learn to stop controlling others’ lives. We accept and give them space to make their choices. We learn to accept that yes, we can only do this much, and it may not always turn out the way we expect. The only thing we can do is, to nurture, and take care. 

The economical level

Reema has also noticed how gardening makes us conscious buyers. We become mindful of our expenses and where to spend. The waste from our kitchen is reused in our gardens. The seeds of several fruits and vegetables such as pumpkin, watermelon and flowers can be sowed again. We save money on fertilizers.

Gardening takes us back to nature. The psychological transformation when gardening happens gradually. Spiritual lessons are learnt at a slow pace too. As we grow spiritually, we understand and respect nature better. We understand just like plants, humans are part of nature. Anything that is living, we can only nurture and take care of them.

Contributor: Kavita Srivastava

About our Writing Program Student
Kavita Srivastava (35) holds a degree in MBA. She’s an avid reader of business strategies, digital marketing strategies, mythology, mystic and fine arts with a focus on content marketing. In her spare time, she loves to spend time with nature and animals. Some day, she wishes to adopt a puppy with whom she can go hiking and jogging. Currently, she’s pursing a career in digital content marketing.

The Lifestyle Portal

Tanya is a graduate in Sociology from Sophia College, Mumbai, a post-graduate in Communications and Media from SNDT Women’s University in Mumbai and holds a Master's Degree in Journalis & Mass Communications from Chandigarh University. A former writing mentor and a seasoned lifestyle writer, Tanya writes columns on The Lifestyle Portal of life and living.

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