Gardening: From a Sweet Indulgence Into Meaningful Meditation
Dancing Elephants Book Project Health and Wellness Group 2
“At this rate, diabetes will get me by 30!”, I joked with a friend as we enjoyed sweetmeats. They are my guilty pleasure, my comfort food, my mood regulators. And I hate how much I depend on them on a bad day.
The problem with sweets is the calories. When I feel off on a random day and need to get something done, I find myself gobbling down delicious, soothing laddoos or simply finding refuge in a bar of heavenly chocolate. The result is immediate gratification, followed by my being productive. Except this cycle is unsustainable and might soon put me in a spot called early-onset diabetes.
Thus, started a struggle to keep me happy with sweets and keep my body healthy. Reaching your 20s is fun until you realize that it’s a lot more difficult to lose weight, especially when you’re not a physically active person. Diets didn’t work out, obviously, due to the aforementioned dependence. Approaching a dietician was not fun either because they kept repeating the same phrase — cut down on the sweets.
Gardening came in as a saviour. This year, summer set in early in my part of the world, and my mother found herself giving our garden a makeover. This was followed by investing in a vegetable garden in our backyard. But you see, my mother isn’t the youngest and physically healthiest out there. It became too difficult for her knees to walk across our yard, and soon the responsibility of hydrating these babies fell on me — and I’m far from a plant mom.
Don’t get me wrong, I do know how to take care of plants on a basic level. I have a history of keeping certain plants alive when others thought they were dead. However, I never try to tend to plants unless forced to. In this regard, I’m extremely grateful that my mom kept aggressively buying plants. I found myself running across the yard, hauling buckets of water, pouring carefully measured mugs because too much or too less is bad.
There was a striking difference, not in the plants that continued thriving, but in me. I looked healthier and felt stronger. My arms weren’t as flabby as they used to be. My leg muscles cramped painfully in the first week of garden work, but they got used to the heavy work soon and I felt so much better — inside and outside.
Garden work was mostly done in the morning. I realized I had to wake up early no matter what because it simply got too difficult once the sweltering sun was up. Subconsciously, I found myself developing a routine that kept me engaged and most importantly, did not allow me the luxury to procrastinate or be lazy.
I kept watering my mom’s plants. The sweltering summer heat of southern India made the job twice as tiring and difficult. I found myself more physically active than I used to be and this was the result of not pointlessly running on a treadmill or working out at a gym, which I personally am not inclined towards. It was the result of working towards something meaningful, something purposeful and worthwhile.
Once the vegetable seeds sprouted and the saplings grew into little plants, they started flowering, and the fruits of my labour brought me so much joy. This was a joy I could’ve never achieved running on a treadmill to keep my weight under check. The habit formation was more concrete and the relationship between my commitment and the work appeared to be something I’ll need to keep up.
My mom’s plants were living, thriving creatures. The knowledge that they’ll wither if I stopped tending them for a day kept the habit going. I didn’t have too much time to dwell on other anxiety-inducing parts of life. I considerably reduced overthinking because there simply was no time. I had to wake up and work at the yards for over an hour in the morning and just when I was done with college work in the evening, I have to think about the evening set of activities involving weeding and fertilizing.
The result was a holistic mental and physical well-being. Gardening appears to be a lonely job if you’re the only one out in the yard doing it, yet I never felt alone. I often found myself humming quietly to the spinaches and talking to myself despite the way nature has a silent loudness to it.
I can’t remember the last time I talked to myself and had an active thought process running as much as I did while gardening. My days moved from mindlessly scrolling through social media feeds to actually thinking about what I read and saw, wondering what I felt about them. My lifestyle had definitely lost a lot of its meaning and I found myself gradually reclaiming a bit of it through this meditative process of gardening.
Being an adult comes with a million responsibilities. Taking care of your own health just happens to be one of them and I’m gradually learning this. I still love my sweet indulgence, but I’ve found an enjoyable way of avoiding the possibility of diabetes at a young age. And the best part? I have reclaimed a bit of purpose and resolve for life in the process of it.
You can check out my author’s bio for the Dancing Elephants Book Project: