Off My Mat and Into My Garden

Over the last couple of years, I've fallen in LOVE with gardening, more specifically with vegetable gardens.  I love growing my own food and better yet, creating tasty meals from my garden.  There is something so very satisfying about picking fresh veggies and getting creative. 

Having fresh herbs growing just outside your kitchen is just as amazing.  With a few quick snips, a new level of flavour can be added to breakfast, lunch or dinner.

In past years, my hubby and I have gone out to the local nursery and picked anything that we thought might taste good and planted it - no planning, no mapping it out, nothing.   We didn't even really look at what needed shade and what didn’t (we are south facing and get a lot of sun).  It wasn't really a surprise when somethings took off and others didn't.

Our choices last summer really underlined a need for mindfulness as well as another way to bring my yoga practice off my mat. 

Originally, we were working with a space that was approximately two by four feet.  Last summer we decided to expand and starting building raised beds that are approximately fifteen by four feet each.  With the additional space, we made the mistake of planting 4 cucumber plants, 3 tomato plants, 8 basil plants, 6 celery plants and several herbs in one bed.  Some plants took off while others struggled.  The basil, tomato and cucumber plants took over most of the bed while the poor celery plants were stuck struggling in the middle.  This year, we decided to do a bit of research and some planning before we started planting. 

But what does a garden have to do with my yoga practice? 

The purpose of yoga is to unite ourselves with our highest nature, our best possible selves.  Through this, we learn to walk in the world in a more mindful way.  The Yama's (the first limb of the eight limbs of yoga) talks about our interactions with others but also our interaction with the world itself. 

The five Yama's are ahimsa or non-harming; satya or truthfulness; asteya or non-stealing, non-covetousness; brahmacharya or celibacy, conservation of energy and aparigraha or non-grasping, non-hording, non-possessiveness.

You might be wondering how each Yama comes to light when planting a veggie garden.

Ahimsa (non-harming or least harm) often refers to how we treat others and how we treat ourselves, it also refers to how we treat all life including plants.  As I mentioned earlier, the celery plants I planted last summer suffered because of where they were placed.  Had they been placed where they had the space to grow and the sunlight they needed, they would have thrived.

Satya or truthfulness moves beyond being truthful with others and includes being truthful with ourselves as well.  Had I been honest with myself about the space available, I wouldn't have purchased as many plants as I did. 

Asteya or non-stealing is more than not taking what doesn't belong to us, like stealing plants or produce from someone else's garden.  Darn chipmunks!  :) 

If we shift the way we think about 'stealing', it shifts beyond taking what doesn't belong to us physically.  It becomes something bigger, encompassing ideas like not stealing time or energy or wanting to take what doesn't belong to us (non-covetousness).  By not purchasing more that what I need, I am able to leave more for the next person. 

Celibacy is the traditional translation for Brahmacharya, but this translations has more to do with the right use of energy that actual celibacy.  Brahmacharya can also be thought of as conservation of energy or moderation.  Moderation in planting a veggie garden allows all the plants space to thrive.  Moderation also allows for the food to be consumed without it going to waste.  Conservation of energy or right use of energy in my daily life allows me the time and energy to tend to the plants in my garden.

Aparigraha (non-grasping or non-hording) is more and more apparent in our daily lives.  Media leads us to believe that we are not enough without the latest, greatest new product, gadget or high end piece of clothing.  This sets us up for a mindset of 'lack'.  When we view the world from a place a 'lack', we take all we can to ensure we have enough for later.  There is a temptation to purchase a few extra plants 'in case' some of the plants die. 

In my experience abundance tends to show up more fully when we use what is needed and only what is needed.  It will be interesting to see how my garden comes together this year in light of each of these yogic principles.  I'm excited to start the planting process!

I'd love to hear about how you plan your gardens (flower or veggie)!  What works?  What doesn't?  Any tips, tricks or ideas?

Happy Planting!

Love, Light and Om,
Andrea