In our blog series, Rituals, we’re exploring the moments that make our instructors who they are. You may have seen glimpses of these on social media, but we’re giving you the chance to dive deeper into what makes these practices special to each person. In our debut feature, we stopped by Peloton cycling instructor Emma Lovewell’s backyard garden to learn how her time spent here has turned in to a tradition that allows her to reset in so many ways.
What have you found is the best time of day to spend in your garden?
I like to spend my mornings here because I think it’s a great way to start my day. It’s so peaceful and calm. I usually make green tea in the morning and spend 10-15 minutes outside.
What are some of your favorite things about your garden?
I love how every time I go out there, something has slightly changed. I love spotting the differences, like a new flower blooming, or a plant growing taller.
When you’re in your garden, are there specific things that you always do here?
I like to take my time and walk around my garden slowly while checking out all my plants. We have some neighborhood squirrels that like to dig in the ground, and often ruin some of my garden, so I’m basically checking for any squirrel damage, and also how the plants are doing, growing, and if there are any new growth in the garden. I grow some vegetables like tomatoes and peppers, but also a lot of herbs and a ton of flowers.
How does spending time here help you become more centered either at the beginning, middle or end of the day?
I think when we get to spend time in nature it’s better for our overall well being. Nature helps you de-stress and re-center yourself. It’s coming back to the natural world and allowing yourself to stop thinking about material things, people and situations you cannot control, or even what other people are thinking or doing. It really forces you to be present. I think we all need more things in our life that encourage us to be present.
Do you have a mental ritual when you’re in your garden?
Generally, I don’t think about anything when I’m in my garden, which is why it’s so wonderful. I pay attention to the sounds, the birds flying around, and the wind. Less thinking, more being.
Why would you encourage someone to find a ritual that they love to do?
My grandfather used to say, “there is freedom in routine.” I think having consistency and a healthy ritual creates a sense of stability and safety which can give people a sense of calm. We like to know what to expect and rely on certain activities or people because it makes us feel safe. When we feel safe we feel free. There are a lot of unknowns in our everyday and it’s important we find the things in our day that help us feel grounded and calm like a ritual!
Has making time for this ritual helped you to be consistent with other practices throughout your day?
I think once you realize an activity that makes you feel good you start paying attention to other activities and people that make you feel good. It’s a good practice to check in with how you’re feeling, and try to find other things that can give you that same feeling. So yes, when I first noticed how good I would feel while gardening I reminded myself to do more things that make me feel good, like taking more dance classes or playing the piano for example. Or even spending more time with people who fill my cup, not take from it.
Has the process of watching things grow taught you anything about being patient with other processes in your life?
A few years ago I ran my mother’s gardening business on Martha’s Vineyard for the summer while she lived in Boston so she could get radiation for her cancer diagnosis. After the summer was over I wrote a blog post about the lessons I learned while gardening every day. Here’s one of my favorite excerpts:
“After a flower has died, it starts to turn brown and you have to cut it off (aka deadheading). If you don’t cut it off the plant will continue to give energy to the dead flower, taking away energy that could be used to grow new and beautiful flowers. As soon as you cut off that dead flower, the energy is used to create many new flowers, allowing the plant to flourish. Let’s all do some more deadheading. Stop giving energy to something that doesn’t benefit you, and in turn you will begin to move your energy towards new and beautiful things, allowing you to flourish.”