Sensing the Garden

Juniper Level Botanic Garden – Raleigh, NC, USA – Anita Avent

Perceiving our environments directly with the senses, without any commentary or judgment, is relaxing, healing, and good for the body, mind, and soul.  When we are feeling happy and relaxed we are usually sensing life directly with the body instead of living in our heads glued to our thoughts about what may or may not be happening.

We seem to have the choice or intention of focusing our attention. For me, with such a deep habit of living in my head, it was as though my body was disconnected and separate from the neck down. Many decades later I found the tools of meditation and mindfulness.  Wow, what a difference these tools have made on my overall quality of life, on the body, and the mind!  I no longer experience long, tense, and painful intervals of knotted up tension in the body!  

juniper Level Botanic Garden, Raleigh, NC, USA – Anita Avent

It does not matter what you call these sensory practices since you’ve already been experiencing the relaxing and healing gifts of these practices since you were about three years old!  When you were a child, you seldom lived in your head thinking about life.  Instead, you were present and attentive to each moment and lived in this freedom. Your body was probably relaxed as a small child.

As we grew older, we learned to live in our heads and thoughts and to name and label each thought/feeling and store it away in the filing cabinet in our mind.  This mental filing cabinet in our heads is the source of so much emotional and psychological suffering yet we have not yet realized this source of our misery. Once we do, meditation, sensory, and mindfulness practices can help us see the filing cabinet in action so we can change our perspectives and relax within our bodies.  

Juniper Level Botanic Garden, Raleigh, NC , USA – Anita Avent.

We tend to live in our heads thinking and pondering what we said last night and wishing for it to be Saturday again.  I’ve found over the decades that the raw sensations of the body will be closer to “truth” (with a capital T) than any thoughts and beliefs we have stored in our heads as memories about these sensations.

Explore this idea for yourself if you like what I am suggesting.  I’ve found that my thinking and thoughts tend to cause me to fret and suffer emotionally since my mind tends to see the negative side of the polarity of life instead of the positive side.  I’m working on this by paying attention to what I think, how I focus my attention, and using mindfulness meditation. These tools work for me and I know they work for many who use them regularly!

Juniper Level Botanic Garden, Raleigh, NC, USA – Anita Avent

Want to have a bit of fun and try a little experiment?  If so, study the listing of body senses below.

Temperature regulation
Blood flow, heart rate
Thirst, hunger
Intramuscular movement
Now select a few sensory mechanisms from the list above that resonate with you.  When you’ve chosen your two or three sensory mechanisms, note them on a piece of paper and then post your sensory mechanism list in your house on the exterior door into your garden or yard.
Juniper Level Botanic Garden, Raleigh, NC, USA – Anita Avent

Here is the easy experiment to use in the garden:

  • Select one of the sensory organs or systems from the list and gently notice and focus on the body without judgment. Notice awareness, notice what is aware….consciousness aware that it is aware.
  • Notice how the body’s sensory experiences moves our attention away from our thinking minds and into the actual physical experiences of the current sensations.
  • This subtle shift of perception is healing for the body/mind and releases hormones that induces the relaxation response and reduces stress hormones.
  • Did you know that science clearly proves movements initiated within the body are claimed and owned by the brain a full 4-8 seconds after the neurons have fired into action?! This blew my mind!


Juniper Level Botanic Garden, Raleigh, NC, USA -Anita Avent

Here is an example of how to use these sensory tools in the garden:

  • Select the sensory mode or tool you wish to explore from your listing—let’s use the sense of touch as our example
  • Simply notice the feel and sensation of sweat dripping from your brow…or coldness in your hands and feet.
  • Feel and sense the tender or vigorous pulsing of blood in your temples or chest. feel your lungs expand on the inhale and contract on the exhale.
  • Feel and sense your muscles pull as you bend, move, and work in the gardens.
  • Feel the warm or cool moist air passing through your nostrils or your mouth as you inhale and exhale.
  • Feel your feet and shoes and sense the anchoring into the soil. Notice how the Earth supports your body.
  • Feel and sense your hands touching the soil or gripping the shovel or rake or touching a plant.
  • Also notice how the body guides and shifts itself nearly effortlessly from one area of the garden or yard to another.


Juniper Level Botanic Garden – Raleigh, NC, USA – Anita Avent


The body moves (is being guided and moved) without the thinking mind!  The same amazing energy that moves the clouds across the sky and grows the grass (and weeds) in our gardens is the very same energy that moves the human body.
Juniper Level Botanic Garden Raleigh, NC, USA – Anita Avent
Consider relaxing and welcoming the sensory experiences of the body regardless of any limits or restrictions you may currently be experiencing.  All sensory inputs coming into the body are neutral until we add labels to describe them…tight, soft, tense, warm, itchy, sore, etc…Your body receives the light of life and flows and reflects the brilliance and intelligence of the Universe…we really are stardust!
So smile and relax when you entertain the silly idea that you are in charge or can direct the body, the garden, or the clouds in the sky.  We are each being marvelously moved and lived by an Intelligence and Love that shines the Sun and moves the planets through their orbits!

In peace and possibility,
Anita Avent
Owner, Juniper Level Botanic Garden
Raleigh, NC USA
Anita Avent