These days, it is very easy to get overwhelmed by all of the stimuli around us. We might have a particularly stressful day at work, be dealing with a health issue in our family, or even just get overwhelmed by a dozen honking horns on the way home from picking our kids up from school. But after a particularly trying day like this, what do we typically do? We distract ourselves with television, social media, or even a few drinks. We feel overwhelmed by what our senses have taken in, so we stimulate them with something that has the same potential to unsettle us. The cycle continues from there until we begin to compromise our health.
At the Herbal Academy of New England, we work to help others find ways to incorporate herbs and other beneficial plant life into their lifestyle. But using herbs and other cultivars as dietary supplements isn’t the only way to enjoy their benefit. Indeed, sometimes medicine can be found in far more subtle ways.
We all know the cliché of stopping to smell the roses. It’s thrown around quite a lot when one reflects on our busy, modern-day lifestyle. But one of the most valuable aspects of growing herbs and other plants is to simply sit with them in silence. Certain traditions teach us about the practice of sense control, which is creating peace in the mind through more beneficial stimulation of the senses. By the simple act of surrounding ourselves with what we or others have grown, we give our senses a break from other, far less peaceful stimuli.
Whether we do so for ten minutes or two hours, by setting the intention to respond to stressful days with some time in a garden we give ourselves an opportunity to address our stress from a centered place. As we move into the cooler months, find yourself an indoor garden or even seek out a botanical garden that has perennials and spend some time with it. Make a concerted effort to do this whenever you experience a particularly stressful day, for the garden will provide you with greater sights, sounds, and smells that are rarely if ever found on a television, on a computer screen, or at the bottom of a pint glass.
There are cultivars all around us, and when we stop to not only smell them but allow them to nourish our other senses as well, we give ourselves a chance to experience life in its greatest richness and bounty. Herbs and other plant life aren’t the only things to be grown in a garden. When we simply sit in one, we also have the opportunity to cultivate our peace of mind.