Secrets to Unlocking Mindfulness in { Not So } Secret Urban Gardens.

{ RMSC Gardens. Clockwise from Left: Tulips that smell of juicy-juice. Primrose herb. Lungwort herb. The RMSC Herb Garden is my favorite secret getaway in Rochester. }

BREATHE IN.

The RMSC Herb Garden

BREATHE OUT.

Mindfulness is an-all-in-1 spa, gym, + detox
for your mind, body, + soul. 

Mindfulness requires commitment, don’t get me wrong. Commitment in terms of minutes { you will have to consciously + constantly redirect yourself } as well as days + months. Just like resume writing + interviewing, no one is naturally good at Mindfulness; Mindfulness is a skill, + it requires regular practice. Which is good news! Because — Phew! — pressure’s off. With Mindfulness, you never, ever, ever, ever have to be … perfect. { 4 letter word. }

Here’s how it works!

You can practice Mindfulness all day, erry’day. To get started, pick-up Buddhist Monk + Nobel Peace Prize nominee Tich Nhat Hanh’s collection “Peace Begins Here,”. This was my 1st introduction to + practice with Mindfulness { thanks to a solidly progressive Creative Writing course my senior year at Pitt }. Until then … Here is what you do.

  1. Find a { Not So } Secret Garden. Big cities. Small Cities. Non-cities. They. Are. Everywhere. Promise. When I lived in Manhattan, both Central + Riverside Parks where very not-so-secret, but they also had idyllic secret nooks once you explored. Rochester has a ton! Here are 3 within 2 miles:
    • First Unitarian Church of Rochester. 220 S. Winton Rd., Rochester, NY 14610. They have gardens + meditative walking mazes, + anyone can enjoy them.
    • Rochester Museum & Science Center Herb Garden. 657 East Ave., Rochester, NY 14607. Herbs, tulips, rose bushes, flowering trees, benches, side gardens, + lots of green grass for walking, picnicking, sports playing, dog walking, jogging, meditating, + relaxing.
    • Historic Gardens at Eastman Museum. 900 East Ave., Rochester, NY 14607. Almost right across the street from RMSC, Eastman Museum has gardens for passersby, tours for those who want history, + Garden Vibes summer concerts 1 Wednesday each month, June-August.
  2. Just Breathe. Inhale. Pause. Exhale. Pause. Repeat. Since you have to breathe anyway — might as well hone + harness it. Instead of just oxygenating your lungs, think about the idea of oxygenating every single cell in your entire body. 2 simple steps:
    • Pause. As soon as you arrive to a comfortable spot within the garden, plant your feet. Look around. Notice the color of the sky. Feel the air. Smell nature. Pause and breathe normally. Say to yourself, At this moment in this time, all I have to do is breathe. And then, when you breathe as per usual with your normal breath, feel proud that you have accomplished all you need to accomplish. Feel proud that you have nothing more to do in this very moment.
    • Slow Down. Once you have enjoyed a few regular breaths, let your breath slow down. Do not force your mind or body to slow. Allow your slowed breath to be a natural guide for the rest of your body. Slow your breath in whatever way feels most comfortable. I like to start by inhaling a bit slower + deeper and pausing at the top of the inhale; and then exhaling with the goal of releasing more slowly than I inhaled, and pausing again at the bottom of my exhale.
  3. Let Go. Release your thoughts. Stay present in this moment. Easily the most intimidating part of “mindfulness,” as this part starts to invoke meditation. But both are actually very easy + natural once you try:
    • No Pressure. The goal of letting go, and so meditation, is not to be free of thoughts. It is to be free of the burden of thoughts. Practicing letting go, and therefore meditation, is actually quite freeing because all you’re doing is granting yourself permission to … let go. To say no. To say, Thought, I see you, and I hear you, and I say goodbye to you. Let thoughts come into your mind. In fact, welcome thoughts to do so. The more thoughts that enter, the more practice you have saying good bye.
    • Visualize. Most of us will vastly struggle with letting go of thoughts, at first. A happy bridge to full-meditation is the prop of visualization and/or mantras: both will help you say goodbye to thoughts. What do you visualize? Nothing. Because you visualize your breath. Focus on the air, the space between. Focus on a part of your body that needs more breath. Breathe to this space. If this doesn’t work, try a mantra. What do you say? Something very simple. Positive. Truthful. I am safe + secure. Flowers are beautiful, just like me. Sunshine feels happy. I believe in my values, + I believe in me. Say the same phrase over + over + over, again. Promise, you won’t be thinking 1 thing.

According to Tich Nhat Hanh, this is called Walking Meditation. You can do it anywhere. A room in your apartment. The pavement on the street. Halls at work. Aisles of the grocery store. Walking Meditation, + so Mindfulness, can be achieved anywhere we step foot.

I hope you enjoy trying. Let me know what you think!

#mindfulness

#bepresent

#belocal.