My 'real' job is helping people with stress, anxiety and panic attacks and as I have turned to the garden at the start of 2020, I've been often asked about whether spending time in the garden is helpful for anxiety and stress.
When I reflected on this, I realised I would describe it slightly differently.
When we're anxious, our minds are racing and busy. We're trying to figure things out, we're worrying and constantly asking 'what if this.....?' and 'what if that.....?' then conjuring up images in our minds of imaginary futures then trying to mitigate for them in our heads right now, using the very same thing (thought) that we used to create the problem in the first place.
And we have NO idea that's what we're doing.
It's just our normal.
Human beings can habituate to anything.
For example, you're told there is a pandemic and a lockdown and you can't take your kids to school or go to work.
And yet, just few weeks later, we find ourselves creating a new normal and a routine and going about our everyday (yet different) lives.
That's what it's like when we live in noisy thought and we don't even realise it.
Gardening, from that mindset? Impossible.
There's not enough stimulation to feed our busy minds, there's too much to do, too much to figure out, if we do have to sort the garden out, we do it with a functionality and speed to get it over and done with so we can move onto the next thing.
Sowing seeds doesn't lead to fast enough results so we ignore the garden or buy 'ready-made' plants and shove them in.
When the anxiety starts to fade from our lives, our minds start to slow to a sane pace.
We become present.
We become aware of what's under our noses already.
We literally, are able to smell the roses for the very first time.
It has taken me a good couple of weeks after lockdown was put in place to slow down to the speed of flowers.
Those things simply will not be rushed.
Seeds into seedlings into plants into flowers - operating exactly as it has always done. And always has and always will for eternity - no matter what.
The constancy of that leaves me in awe.
The unstoppable power of nature points me to what's constant and unchanging, rather than the contents of my own mind, which are every-shifting (because that's the nature of thought).
And so this lockdown issues us all with an invitation.
To rush around trying to satisfy our unsatisfiable busy minds, by being productive and doing stuff just to fill the days.
Or to slow down to the speed of flowers.
To welcome this invitation to periods of reflection.
To reconsider life.
And then the slow pace of the garden matches our internal speed perfectly.
Our sense of being part of something bigger awakens - beyond the snarls of our tiny insecure minds.
Almost as if it and us were one.