What we desire. What we must do. How we can solve this or that. All thoughts lead us away from where our lives are actually lived: the here and the now.
This plays out in the garden as well. To counter this distraction and be fully present in our lives, especially in the garden, we must slow down and observe.
Observation takes us out of personal drama and anchors us in the reality of the natural world around us. We gain understanding and insight through observing what is right in front of us. Visual and olfactory acuity, pattern recognition, and watching developments over time, all expand as we observe. Sequences of planting, growing, and harvesting become apparent in their subtle progression, through observation.
How can one observe? Try this the next time you are in a natural setting:
Sit quietly for a few minutes with your eyes closed. Let thoughts arise, but not linger. Take a deep breath, and open your eyes as you exhale.
What do you see? Are the plants around you green and vibrant, or brown and withered?
What shape and color are the leaves? Do you notice other life on the plants: insects, fungus?
How does the plant smell? If appropriate, touch the plant to see how it feels. Is it soft, stiff, scratchy? What do you hear and feel? Is the sun warm on your back? Is the breeze cool?
Now address the plants around you. Listen for a response. Breathe deeply several more times.
Then, honor the plants. Thank them for their beauty and for allowing you to experience them fully.
You will be surprised how much you can learn simply by paying attention. You will also be amazed at what rich experiences open up to you, through the act of observation.
— January Nordman