Let's head to the small town of Sacramento, Pennsylvania. It's far outside the city limits, where the smell of fresh cut grass lingers for hours and feeding wildlife is experienced in one's own backyard. This is where I have called home for most of my life. Where families rush to the Farmers Market every Friday for the best fruits and vegetables, where grandmothers teach their grandchildren how to cook and grow food by sight and taste. Where the grandfathers teach their grandchildren when and how to harvest produce.
Life is slower here, where mornings are for coffee and homemade breakfasts and evenings are made for relaxing and unwinding on the front porch, if you have one, or on the lawn chair. The place where everybody waves hello to everyone, and news travels fast like a heart beat. I grew up near this area of Sacramento, and it's exactly the same, where somewhere along the line of ancestors, people were farmers. So I can say that the farmer mentality is quite popular here.
This is a place where you wake up when the rooster crows and go to sleep after the evening chores are finished. Where it's mostly work and not much play, and the understanding of responsibility is taught to the children at the young age of 4 or 5. But, we also know how to balance all of our hard work with rest and relaxation; unwinding at the end of a long day or season is equally important.
My experiences as a gardener, Massage Therapist, an athlete, and a healer all showed me one common thread: People who are suffering find relief when they focus their attention elsewhere, on something other than themselves. In doing so, we leave the Sympathetic Nervous System responses (fight or flight) and enter into the Parasympathetic Nervous System response (rest and digest). When our mind and body are in a more relaxed state we are able to contemplate solutions by looking at the big picture - instead of focusing on the specific details of life's challenges.
I especially noticed this shift in family and friends who battle PTSD, addiction, depression, and stress. I became curious and later in life found out why it happened, I was determined to help this group of people. One way that I help is through gardening.
Working with plants grounds us from our every day stress, no matter the cause. We are all energy, we are all interconnected, like a web of life. With Mother Earth we can reconnect with our self just by sitting on the ground or by being in a garden (no matter the size). If we can reconnect with our self just by being with Mother Earth and taking care of something other than ourselves, imagine what can happen on a vast scale . . . WORLDWIDE!
I have been gardening since I was six, and although my brothers and I did more of the weeding, we all continue to have our own gardens to this day. Not only did my parents garden, so did the rest of the our neighborhood which spanned for miles. My ancestors are the generations of farmers on both my mother and father's side . . . talk about hand-me-downs of information! As time went on the world changed, and so I had to change from what worked for my ancestors to what works for me now. I incorporate both their knowledge and today's world to make my small but flourishing garden grow!
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“The Great Spirit is in all things, is in the air we breathe. The Great Spirit is our Father, but the Earth is our Mother. She nourishes us; that which we put into the ground, She returns to us . . ."
“Gardening helps us to focus on something greater than our self, and when we shift our focus from self to other we are also shifting our train of thought from thinking to feeling.”
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