Today is St. Patrick’s day and you might be wondering what the link is between this celebratory day and mindfulness in the garden. You might have to bear with me, it’s the way my brain works sometimes but I promise you I will get to the point!
When the time arrives each year for St. Patrick’s day, there’s a good chance that in your sights you’ll catch glimpse of many, many emerald green shamrocks (three leaf clovers). Truth be known they are always around you whenever you may be near a grassy area. More often than not they can be a nightmare for gardeners popping up in places where they shouldn’t be, a characteristic of what make a good weed. Yet, there is so much more to three leaf clovers than first meets the eye that it really isn’t deserving of the weed title. I would love to do Clover as my Plant of the Month for March, unfortunately I had already chosen another plant for this. Perhaps next year but in the meantime let me ask you this…
Have you ever found a lucky, four leaf clover in your garden? Clover is a plant that grows vigorously, another characteristic of a trophy weed. The fact it does grow so fast, one might say it increases the chances of finding a four leaf clover. If, however, you like your garden to be weed free, then chances of finding one are slim. As an adult, I have not been so lucky in spotting these rare cousins of the three leaf clovers, yet as a child, as luck would have it, I did manage to find a couple. This got me thinking and brought me to the reason why I’m writing on the topic of mindfulness, the act of being aware and present in the moment, on St. Patrick’s day, in the garden.
As a child, I have to admit that I was lucky and this was before finding the four leaf clovers. I was brought up in a worry free and happy environment. Most hours of the days were spent playing outside with my brother and our friends, just being children. We lived life in the moment. To this day, I don’t feel as though I spent a whole lot of time searching for four leaf clovers before I found one. Maybe it was just down to pure and simple luck but truth be known, looking back, I probably did spend more time than I thought I did. As a child, I had all the time in the world. There were no responsibilities and deadlines to meet other than getting home in time for tea. When we were younger we had the opportunity be present in the moment, and to be more aware and observant in our day to day surroundings. My priority in my earlier years was definitely to set time aside to enjoy being outdoors amongst nature.
As I became a young adult in my early twenties, life got a bit more complicated and being susceptible to being a worrier in the past, my mind became ‘noisy’ with social pressures, worries and deadlines. My responsibilities changed too which subsequently impacted on my priorities and my time to dedicate in the great outdoors. The hours available for going out and gardening became effectively limited and my life subsequently less rich. I existed each day, rather than living life to the full. Don’t get me wrong, any little minute I could get outside in my garden, I would. Not enough time, I grant you, to find a four leaf clover but it was a place I could go to find solace and to escape the world for just a little bit.
It was only after experiencing burnout and anxiety in my late twenties that having a career change meant that I was able to spend more time outdoors. Being back in my garden and dedicating more time to it, I would like to say I taught myself to become more aware and more present as an adult yet I actually think it was gardening and being back in nature that did it. Spending time tending to my plants allowed my mind to focus on just what was happening at that moment. At last my once ‘noisy’ brain was now more aware of birds chirping and what soil felt like between my fingers!
Now in my thirties, I have learnt to live in the moment and worry less, to enjoy and experience the beauty that nature has to offer us and to prioritise what is important to me thereby living a richer, fuller life. I’m not suggesting that you spend all your time looking for four leaf clovers, especially as time becomes more precious as you get older but to certainly leave some time in your busy day to take time out and to appreciate the sights, sounds, smells, and even textures which nature has to offer. Being aware and present really does make you feel lucky, four leaf clover or not!