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By Marianne Taylor
As we say goodbye to 2018, we’re excited with all the possibilities of the New Year, filled with hope and promise. With our resolutions in hand, we will strive for ways to make our lives happier, healthier and more manageable this coming year. We will go all out for the latest phone apps, books, social media influencer, health club or weight loss center to help us make our resolutions come true, once and for all. As we all have experienced, our best intentions with our resolutions fail within the first month—possibly because of the fact that we just have too many resolutions we’re wanting to change all at once. Or we lose sight of our goals, not really having a plan, or get distracted with the demands of life, letting the New Year resolutions dissolve. Whatever the case may be, change is not easy. Habits are just that— habits. But with the help of practicing daily mindful meditation, a new you will emerge.
What is mindfulness, you ask? Mindfulness is being in the moment. The dictionary defines it as “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.” Resolutions and mindfulness; focus on creating one new habit. Remember, it’s a process, not perfection.
One such mindful moment is captured in nature. Meditation in the garden begins my focus for peace and relaxation. Nature has a way to calm, slow your breath, clear your mind and reduce stress while grounding you for the day. You can be mindful right where you are. One way to begin practicing mindfulness is in nature. Go out and take a walk in a park, turn off your mental list of to-do’s and demands of the day and focus on the sights, sounds, smells and details of your walk. Give your senses your fullest attention. As you prepare for your walk, clear your thoughts, take a few deep breaths, move your arms back and forth and roll your head around. Grab some water and go! Feel your body start to relax, look around and observe your surroundings; as you walk the path, see what you discover in the environment: flowers in bloom, a crooked branch, birds singing in the tree, the warm sunlight on your skin or shadows on the ground. You might hear laughter from children playing. Look with “bare awareness.” Take a breath and focus on what scents you’re taking in. Being fully engaged in all your senses draws attention into the moment and releases our mental noise, bringing a fresh aliveness and wonder into our day.
Goin’ Native Therapeutic Gardens is offering a free class in mindfulness through capturing our observations with a click on our smart-phone camera. Let’s see how we can turn our device of distraction into a mode of meditation. Connecting in nature and finding mindfulness through photography expands our senses while exploring the wonder and awe of a garden, giving us greater opportunities to discover ourselves.
Start your New Year’s resolution with a morning of mindfulness practice on Saturday January 5, 2019 at the Los Rios Park from 10-11 a.m. Discover the beauty of a winter garden, watch for budding bulbs thrusting up from the earth, smell the invigorating sages, feel the spines of the aloe vera plant, hear the rustling of the sycamore leaves under your feet and capture the experiences in your mind and on your camera phone. We will walk and talk while we’re practicing our mindfulness together. Class is free. Materials: Bring a smart phone. Sign up at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marianne Taylor, of San Juan Capistrano, is the founder and executive director of Goin’ Native Therapeutic Gardens, 501(c)(3), teaching gardening and life skills as a way of empowering, engaging and connecting people. Goin’ Native focuses on educating local families, special needs adults, seniors, at-risk youth and members of the military.