And don’t think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It’s quiet, but the roots are down there riotous – Rumi
Rise. Work like a crazy person, back hurting, hunched over computer. Take breaks only when necessary. Repeat. Welcome to the COVID-era dance. In my head and my heart it has literally felt like a dance that just won’t stop -the spinning continues. I am a dancer, and even for me this feels never-ending and really unsettling and shocking to the balance of my body.
Then came the green. In many cultures, green is seen as the colour of healing, and I am pretty sure that wherever that came from centuries ago, it was connected to the very healing properties of nature’s green to provide sustenance, medicine and peace to the soul.
I really like considering myself as an eco-warrior and have been on a path of moving to plastic-free living, changing out my disposable plastic lifestyle to a reusable one, out went the shampoo bottles and toothpaste, in came shampoo bars, home made body butter, bamboo toothbrushes, a menstrual cup, DIY tooth powder, and all sorts of other life-changing and spirit-uplifting commitments!
Along with this, over the years, more and more, seeing food systems imbibed with chemicals and mass production that leached soils, I have leaned towards starting to grow my own food. My friend Sheena Shah at Harvesting for Good East Africa helped nurture my journey by teaching my husband and I about permaculture. And so began the obsession and joy of growing whatever I could.
When COVID started, I was so busy working so hard, that I thought going to the garden to check on it had no time in my diary. And as time went I found myself getting wearier, aggravated, and possibly even depressed. Time to also make all those body butters and tooth powder? No!
One day I had enough and decided to take my coffee break with the plants – and my gosh how it changed! I felt clarity I had not felt in weeks! And then I decided to also start on my body butters again on breaks – or between those never-ending Zoom calls! After not having time to even exercise for a while, it felt like the garden was offering me a space to move. This fantastic podcast by Katy Bowman that links gardening to body movement really affirmed the idea that not only does gardening help us mentally and nourish our souls and bodies, but it also provides us the chance to move our body and push the stagnation away!
Stirring in delicious oils felt so mindful! And so gratifying!
Now some may ask about my privilege of having a garden, and I want to just share that trying to find some time with ‘green’ can be possible even in apartments. Many of my coaching clients have found during this time that the inability to go into nature or see greenery has really affected their mental state…in exploring options, we found that even getting some plants at home, especially edible ones (think a beautiful hanging pot of strawberries!) is possible and is very likely to shift the mood for you! Personal experience (and a fitbit) also shows that the heart does slow down to relaxation state just in taking that moment with a plant, nature, a garden.
In Katy’s podcast, Dr. Rose Hayden-Smith reminds us of the Victory Gardens in some parts of the world during the two World Wars -In wartime, governments encouraged people to plant victory gardens not only to supplement their rations but also to boost morale. It does feel like we are in a World War yet again, this time, humanity all on one side against this common enemy. And some have taken the opportunity to go back to those roots of gardening as civic action and self-care a century ago – perhaps we all need to play our part too!
Happy Garden Healing!