On the Guardian news website, James Wong wrote an article (Sunday 13 June 2021) describing how gardening provides a natural object of meditation that helps create a healthy mind, being a good focus point for mindfulness practice.
The colour in our life
The thing about gardens, forests, jungles and most living plants is that they tend to be green.
The colour green in the spectrum of light is the most restful colour we perceive because the eyes at rest don't have to accommodate the focal point of this wavelength as it lands on the retina. For example, the colour red has a focal point slightly behind the retina while the colour blue falls slightly in front of the retina. So with the colour green, the lens of the eye is in a relaxed state when viewing anything in natural green, creating the relaxation response that calms us.
As most of us already know, green and natural green are not the same thing. We can usually distinguish the difference between the green of an artificial plant and a real plant. If we were looking to get an artificial plant, it's subtle green hues would have to be as close to the real thing for us to accept its likeness of a living plant. Alas, it seems that most artificial plants are a poor reproduction of the real thing and look fake - unless you are prepared to pay much more money to get closer to perfection.
Of course, we know there is more to the garden than just its colour. Our attention is always drawn to the relaxing ambience of a beautiful garden. As we become aware of life growing and living around us, we naturally recognise our own connection with the environment we are in.
Thriving to be happy
The community garden is an environment rich in sensory experience. Not only is it a visual experience for us, it also feeds our senses with its sounds, with its many scents, with the experience of touch, and the presence of others around us. It is not so much as about being occupied, or working and keeping busy, but the garden provides us with it's true value by giving us a place to be present, in a productive environment, letting us enjoy the experience of being alive.
We see the garden as a living, transient thing, as an extension of our existence. It is this feeling of harmony with our environment that heals us, and this is because maintaining a healthy garden is akin to maintaining a healthy mind. This cycle of benefit works to bring us contentment from both directions:
What we grow together, we know together.
In essence, gardening is a meditation in practice. When we reinforce this practice by gardening together, the social aspect of our human nature is supported, helping us to maintain a natural bond with others in our community.
Read more about this in James Wong's article in the Guardian: "Why is gardening so good for your mental and physical health?