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 differentiate between sensations in the body that are pleasant, unpleasant and neutral.
In social neuroscience, this ability is called “interoceptive awareness”. Interoception happens naturally. It helps the body respond to stress and wellbeing. For example with a faster heartbeat, slower breathing or tenser muscles. Most of the time, we hardly notice these “interceptive signals”. But sometimes we become aware of “butterflies in our stomachs” or a “warm feeling in our hearts”; these are called sensations.
The Garden Method helps people utilize interoceptive awareness 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 thrive. If we do so often enough, they can provide a source of nourishment that can balance out the costs of extreme or chronic stress.