That's what I've learnt this week. When you spend 10 hours standing at a bench, poking holes in compost pots and delicately shoving in little strawberry plant spiders the body starts to tense, to tighten. Lift two trays of pots, place on bench, arrange, prick plants left hand, make hole right hand, plant pinch, plant, pinch, plant, pinch. Pick trays up, walk up the polytunnel, bend to floor, put them down, align with others. Strighten up, walk to pallet, lift 2 trays, sometimes from floor, sometimes from 5 foot height. Place trays on bench. Repeat, reapeat, repeat, repeat. And each step of bending and stretching anf lifting and planting must, I've learnt, be accompanied by an awareness of your body. Where are your shoulders? High and tight or low and relaxed? When they are high your lower back will hurt....breathe out, lower shoulder blades, stetch neck, plant. Move hands quickly along the row of pots, right hand, two fingers in compost, left hand plunge plant as fingers come out, both hands press earth. Then next. 8 pots in a tray. 2 trays on a bench. 500 trays on a pallet. 1000 strawberry plants in a box. Twenty boxes delivered each week.
A year ago I learnt mindfulness of place, to look at where you are now and be in it, not only think of where you will be when you move on, escape, do imaginary, as yet uncreated, better things.
Now, here, is mindfulness of body, it's smaller scale, it concentrates me minute by minute, it's helping a lot.
Where are the trays? Are they placed so you lean forward and put your weight on your back or closer to you so your arms are close to your body and your weight is in your hips and legs.
Where are your knees? Are they locked and twisting or relaxed and bending? When you turn to your left for more plants, bend your knee as you lean, don't twist the joint, it makes it ache.
When you stand with your shoulders down and your neck straight, try and tense your core muscles, stomach, womb, pelvic floor; it will help support your back and, in time, will strengthen these muscles.
When you walk from bench to pallet, take deep breaths and relax your body, shoulders down, head up. Don't hunch and stoop. Be strong, feel upright. Work.