Today is National Garden Meditation Day. Celebrated annually on May 3rd this is a day to take some time out for yourself to relax and meditate. And hands-on work, like digging in the garden, can actually be a form of meditating.
Research by neuroscientist Kelly Lambert¹ suggests that when we become absorbed in activities that involve physical labor, problem-solving, and a state of flow (energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment of an activity) that it reduces stress, anxiety, and depression.
Lambert identified what she called the “effort-driven reward circuit” which are a number of interconnected brain regions that appear to influence well-being and are activated by physical labor; especially hands-on work. This means that planting vegetables, tending flowers, or even pulling weeds can help you feel better. Of course if gardening isn’t your thing then some other activities that activate this circuit include pottery, crafting, engine tinkering, painting, building models, etc.
So, whether you want to build a large raised bed garden or have a small herb garden on your window sill go out there today and play in the dirt! Because life’s a garden: dig it.
¹ Kelly Lambert is the chair of the psychology department at Virginia’s Randolph-Macon College and author of “Lifting Depression: A Neuroscientist’s Hands-On Approach to Activating Your Brain’s Healing Power”