THE GARDEN METHOD FOR COMMUNITY WELLBEING
Why is it called the “Garden Method?”
Caring for wellbeing is much like tending a garden. Depending on where we come from and what our experience in life has been, we all have different ways of thinking and talking about mental health. Stigma und misunderstandings often stand in the way of conversations that make way for new solutions. Interventions that work well in Europe may not necessarily translate into other cultures. This is why we’ve chosen to use the universal language of gardening to work with what we all have in common:
A nervous system that responds similarly to stress, and to wellbeing.
Just like our wellbeing, a garden can manage more or less on its own, but with a bit of extra care, it can thrive. Stress overload has an impact on our health and wellbeing, just like storms and drought will impact a garden’s harvest. Similar to how we humans can recover from hardship, a garden can regenerate with a friendly climate, help from others and when we tend to it with care.
The Garden Method is easy to learn. It can be taught in group workshops or simply from friend to friend. You don’t need formal qualification to become a Garden Method Trainer. Coreszon’s training program enables community members to adapt the method to their community’s culture and share it with others. This peer-to-peer approach aims to add to communities’ existing resources, relationships and abilities. The Garden Method places a strong emphasis on social cohesion. In challenging times, the ability to work together well is an invaluable asset. It can protect the wellbeing of everyone involved and plays a vital role in how we overcome crises and hardship together.
What you can learn:
VISIT OUR FREE ONLINE INTRODUCTION
In 60 minutes, you will find out why mental health isn’t “just in our heads”, how our bodies manage stress and why relationships are key to wellbeing. At CORESZON, learning is about doing: you’ll take away three simple tools that you can use anytime, any place to reduce stress and care for wellbeing.
HOW DOES THE GARDEN METHOD WORK?
The Garden Method is rooted in brain science, social neuroscience and developmental psychology. It aims to enhance the ability to “know our own hearts”, or: to accurately identify how our bodies respond to wellbeing, and to distress.
In neuroscience, this ability is called “interoceptive accuracy”. Interoception – the perception of what is going on inside the body – is a natural, biological process. You can imagine it like a signal system that helps our body respond to whatever our inner or outer situation calls for. For example feeling hungry when our energy levels are down, or feeling the urge to move around when we need to release stress.
Luckily, we’re seldom aware of this constant process inside our body. Constant awareness of it would be really distracting.
When we’re distressed, our body’s signals often become more noticeable: we may notice our hearts beating faster, our stomachs contracting or an overall sense of activation. Quite often, we respond to these signals without being aware how much they shape our thinking, feeling and behavior – for example with intense emotions or impulsive actions.
Current findings in brain science show a connection between the ability to not merely notice, but to accurately perceive what is going on inside our bodies and our overall mental wellbeing. . For example, with a faster heartbeat, slower breathing or tenser muscles, depending on what our inner or outer situation calls for. Most of the time, we hardly notice these “interoceptive signals”. But sometimes we become aware of “butterflies in our stomachs” or a “warm feeling in our hearts”; these are also called sensations. Sensations can be neutral, pleasant or unpleasant.
The Garden Method helps people use pleasant or neutral sensations to regulate stress. As we all know, focusing attention on an itch or a pain will usually intensify it. But what if we focus attention on a sensation that is pleasant or neutral? Doing this is like watering the vegetables and flowers in a garden: by paying special attention to them, we can encourage them to grow and intensify. By intensifying pleasant sensations, we can kick-start our body’s natural ability to regulate stress.
Regulating stress does’t always mean calming down. Sometimes, what we need more is a sense of strength and energy. You can try this for yourself by remembering a physical activity that you enjoy – maybe even by going through the motions. As you do this, try paying attention to what happens inside. You may notice your heart speeding up and your muscles preparing for action. Now you can ask yourself: is it pleasant, unpleasant or neutral?