A Vegetable Garden Retreat

Our vegetable garden has been an immense source of joy, learning and gratitude during this pandemic. 


Many factors came into play for this and, at the same time, it’s hard to tell exactly what made it so much more special than previous years. Maybe it’s because I had my dear friend Carolina helping me. Maybe it’s because we were part of a group chat that shared information that ranged from ancient wisdom to lots of fun and supportive comments on how our experiments were developing…or failing! Maybe it was the Pandemic itself, and all its personal ramifications: our home became our world and the vegetable garden was the most earthly and stabilizing thing I had within my reach.  Maybe it’s because vegetable gardens have something absolutely beautiful and sacred about them that gets revealed as we spend time working with the dirt, seeds, plants and weeds. Or maybe it’s because my name - Jardim - means garden in Portuguese and I have always loved all the endless metaphors gardens provide to so many aspects of life : its seasons, how changeable they are, how they respond to the natural and primary elements of earth, sun, water and air, how the lunar calendar impacts seeding and growth, and so much more. 


What I know for sure is that what I experienced was quite profound. 


A vegetable garden is a symbol of what we can perceive in our lives and in the planet, in the physical and in the metaphysical realms . We can feel a part of it, at the same time co-creating and benefiting from the process. 


I became so enchanted by the rhythm of tending the garden on a daily basis, providing extra water on hot days, weeding close to sunset when it feels so peaceful there, witnessing in wonder all the little and big changes. There was growing and dying, there was something to harvest the entire summer, not to mention that tremendous satisfaction from grabbing a whole weed and removing it from the depths of its roots. Most of all, there was the miracle of abundance and generosity I continue to witness after spending what seems to be a small amount of hours cultivating it.


Even writing about bringing the harvest back to the kitchen and sharing a dish from our garden with my family makes me aware of the profound beauty and life-affirming force that lies in this process.


I wanted to have this as a first writing about Mindfulness because it has been a great example to me of informal meditation and a way of remaining grounded, open, curious, and aware of life’s sacredness and goodness, which are all elements of a mindfulness practice.  Best of all, as founder of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Jon Kabatt-Zin teaches, we practice formal meditation because what really matters is to become aware of life itself, as it naturally unfolds, as the focus of meditation. Our life is the ultimate curriculum for our meditation, with no separation between our living and our practice. 


So, I hope that besides enjoying formal times of meditation and learning about mindfulness, you can also have many moments when life and practice become the same, a place and time for feeling present, open and engaged with life's natural rhythms that are constantly unfolding, whether we pay attention to these moments…or not.



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