Ayurveda in the Garden

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IMG_0987I find few things more enjoyable than spending time in my gardens. From the first frenzied cleaning in April to the melancholy mop-up in late October, there is always something to be done.  This summer, my time in the gardens found me musing about the way all three doshas were pacified by the various activities that go into creating a pleasant garden space.

I am Vata-Pitta by nature, with distinctive moments of Kapha imbalance that come in the form of lethargic procrastination.  This doshic combination highlights my light, breezy nature, but makes follow-through and project resolution somewhat difficult.  Putting my hands in the dirt is LITERALLY the most grounding of activities.  Rich soil under my feet and the satisfaction of being outdoors allows the positive Vata qualities of imagination, creativity, and spiritual connectedness to flourish. 

Vata attention enjoys constant stimulation, and will wander unimpeded in a garden space.  I can move from project to project like a busy bee, putzing and fiddling with the plants to my heart’s content.  Engaging in small yet valuable garden chores gives me a sense of purpose and focus.  My mind moves from spacey to spacious, and I find myself feeling calmer and more peaceful by the end of a productive stint.

The Pitta aspects of my personality are similarly soothed by being outside, but these qualities appreciate a more structured experience, and drive the activities of arranging, weeding, pruning, and edging.  This is exercise with an objective, and I enjoy using my body and muscles to such positive effect.  Pitta breathes a sigh of satisfaction to see a neat and cooperative garden, with flowers that yield color and fragrance to be harvested with the eyes time and time again.  Also gratifying to my Pitta is the produce garden, which efficiently supplies greens and veggies right to the table and stomach without the fuss of grocery stores or money exchange.  If there is one thing Pittas love, it’s FOOD!

Kapha’s pleasure is held in the sensual experience of gardening. Vigorous sweating that comes from digging, lifting, hauling, and cleaning hold the line for keeping Kapha’s channels clear and flowing, but it is beauty that makes the Kapha heart soar.  Kaphas love reveling in the senses, enjoying the color, fragrance, sound, and feel of garden work.  And not least is the taste of those efforts!  The Kapha in me surges at every Farmer’s market, nursery and roadside stand.  I’ll admit it, I love to buy plants and add that abundance to my already teeming patch of earth.  Growth is the province of Kapha, and a garden is nothing if not a place for exactly that!

In all, each dosha is happy outdoors, and take turns driving the garden project forward.  Vata imagines and dreams of the perfect scene, Pitta organizes and gathers the necessary details and ingredients, and Kapha sweats through the labor and implementation.  All three doshas can delight in the fruits of this work, and revel in a job well-accomplished.

My challenge now is to find a way to draw these healing activities indoors to provide much-needed amusement and purpose during colder weather.  Perhaps an indoor salad garden under grow lights?  What do you gardeners do during the winter months to keep your thumbs green, hearts happy, and doshas balanced?

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