Janelle Zhao

Sophie Walker on the meditative quality of gardening

June 28, 2018

This summer, I’ve been really enjoying taking care of my modest little garden (if you can even call it that) and a few houseplants. I didn’t know how to articulate the particular state of mind I get when gardening until reading this quote. I find that tending to my plants does not simply involve the physical act of say watering, it becomes me. They become a part of my psyche so that I know when to water, when to prune, when to clean their delicate leaves. I especially love this part of the quote: “it requires sensitivity for something beyond ‘I’, beyond ‘self’”. It seems that the more I step beyond myself, the more I feel connected with everything else.

“The garden is a tool of daily practice—something that is closely associated with Buddhism and Shinto. The very act of tending a garden requires care, it requires sensitivity for something beyond ‘I’, beyond ‘self’. The task at hand demands full engagement with no thought of anything else—it is a wholehearted act. Poet monk Basho said that because of this, ‘many a great thought occurred while weeding the garden’.”

– Sophie Walker on the connection between Japanese gardens on religious practice, in a Phaidon interview.