5 Minute Mindfulness Practice with Plants
Mindfulness and plant care go hand in hand. Whether indoors or outdoors, the act of plant care is an act of mindfulness, helping humans become more in tune with their surroundings and their ‘self'. Oftentimes caring for plants reflects how we care for ourselves and vice versa. Through slowing down, honing attention, taking action when needed, and developing an understanding of the environment around, we’re able to bolster compassion, discipline, and consciousness.
‘Forest bathing’ has gained attention in recent years within the wellness realm. It’s the act of going into nature to experience and take in the essence of the outdoors. Nature is healing and studies have shown that being outside is beneficial in helping reduce stress and even boost the immune system. In fact, research demonstrated that the scent of tree oils can have a significant physiological effect on the human body. Specifically, the scent of phytoncides (natural oils in plants) can lower stress hormones, easing depression and anxiety.
As humans start to spend even more time inside, it’s important to take care of ourselves (data shows that Americans spend around 90% of their time indoors!). One way to practice self-care is through plant care, by bringing a bit of the outside in. Translating a mindful nature practice to our indoor world, we can in a sense create an indoor forest bathing experience. Immersing yourself in this practice, you’ll have the opportunity to connect with nature in a unique way that’s mutually beneficial for you and the plant.
Breaking it down, simply remember A CASA (an acronym for Awareness, Connection, Acceptance, Senses, Appreciation) which translates to ‘at home’. Checking into each section of the mindfulness sequence, give yourself 5 minutes total (1 minute for each part) to make your way through the entire practice. You can also use this mindfulness sequence for any amount of time to make it truly your own practice, at your own pace.
A CASA: (at home)
- Start sitting or standing near your plants, whichever is more comfy. With eyes open, begin to bring your attention to your breath. Become aware of your breaths current state and how the cycle feels.
- Then try to slow the breath, making it more intentional. Slowly inhaling through the nose for at least 4 counts, holding briefly at the top of the inhalation, and then exhaling slowly through the nose for at least 4 counts.
- Now start to notice your environment including a plant or multiple plants, from a wide view. Observing nature’s delicate creation, and simply becoming more aware on a macro level. Noticing as a whole the greenery around you.
- Once you’re alert and connected with your breath, start to slow down your mind and body to match the breath. Let extraneous thoughts dissipate and allow stillness into your body.
- With this softness, now tune back into the plant from a calm perspective and centered focus.
- As a living being, notice the life of the plant, another living thing. Think about how you feel right now and how having plants around makes you feel. Do you notice any differences when you’re connected with your plants like now? Perhaps a sense of comfort from caring and nurturing plants?
- As you notice how the presence of plants makes you feel, begin to zone into one plant, thinking about that individual plant’s progress. How life has unfolded thus far. Similarly to human lives, plants experience ups and downs, cycles of growth, of healing, and even of death. It’s only natural.
- With awareness comes acceptance. As you become aware that not every leaf is the same, that not every stem is symmetrical, not every plant is “perfect”, we can begin to garner acceptance. Accepting the things we cannot change is incredibly important in plant parenthood (and life!), as there is so much beyond our control.
- Now turning to the senses, run through each sensory experience:
- Visually, notice what you see-- now on a more detailed, micro level. Maybe seeing intricacies in design, colors, shapes. Truly take it in and stay with your slow, controlled breathing.
- Audibly, notice what you hear. If you’re indoors, you may not hear your plants (like rustling leaves), but just notice the surrounding noises.
- Tactically, run your fingers across a leaf. How does it feel? Soft, waxy, velvety, cool, etc. Observe while breathing and connecting.
- Smelling the plant can trigger memories or be reminiscent of forests/the outdoors. Some houseplants may not have a scent, but just engaging the olfactory sense in this way helps hone plant awareness.
- Taste is the last sense to engage (but don’t eat the plant!). Notice the taste in your mouth, which is heavily linked to the sense of smell.
- Beyond acceptance we can start to appreciate the beauty of all living things, no matter the condition. Expressing gratitude, now start to think about the ways that you appreciate plants. Perhaps because they’re a source of joy, they clean the air, they’re visually pleasing, they’re healing, they provide food and nourishment (but again, don’t try to eat your houseplant unless it’s an herb!). Inhale. Feeling grateful as you breathe in precious air. And exhale. Feeling appreciative of your supportive plants.
Inviting plants indoors is an invitation of joy. And a practice of mindfulness with plants can further the experience of gratitude, awareness, and connection. Much like meditation, studies have expressed that houseplants help boost individuals’ concentration, productivity, and overall mood. This combination plant meditation is the perfect way to boost wellbeing as a fun, calming, interactive self-care practice.