Bring peace to your own backyard
Many people have gotten the message in recent years that meditation is good for them. Not only has it been practiced for centuries, but it is also proven to lower blood pressure and reduce stress and anxiety. Creating an area in your garden to meditate does not have to be expensive or require you to re-landscape your entire back yard. Here are some tips for creating your own, personal Zen-inspired area.
Part of our Zen Market statuary collection, this statue of Krishna with flute (at right) stands 45″ tall and because it is made from a fiberglass cement composite, is lighter in weight and more weather resistant than traditional stone or cast stone.
Choose an area of your yard that will evoke a sense of calm. This might be a more secluded patio off of a bedroom, a small clearing on the edge of a wooded area or stream, or even a spot on a porch or balcony.
Find a place to sit or lie quietly in this spot. This can be accomplished by adding a bench or comfortable chair, but you could also add a hammock or porch swing. Even a lawn area or mossy ground can be the perfect spot to unroll a yoga mat or sit on a meditation cushion
Add a water feature. The sound of water will add to your sense of calm. Many Japanese-styled gardens have large, beautiful koi ponds, but you can get the same effect with a simple container water garden or small fountain.
Add a focal point that speaks to you. There are so many sculptures or statues to choose from such as various spiritual figures, pagoda lanterns, or animals. Choose one that instills a sense of inspiration to you.
Rocks or boulders are one of the traditional elements to any Asian-styled garden but they also can be used to ground your garden space to the natural environment. Naturally styled stone benches, rock towers (or cairns), landscape boulders, stepping stones, and decorative stone mulches are all ways to introduce stone into your space.
Wind chimes are a great way to add a gentle, melodic sound that can be very helpful to induce a state of mindfulness.
Plants have many roles in a meditation garden. They can be used to create screening and a sense of privacy but they can also be used to attract wildlife or even to produce fragrance at certain times of the year. Plants themselves can also be used as a sculptural focal point, such as the intricate branching patterns of a Japanese maple. To some, the very act of gardening (and even pulling weeds) can be a form of meditation.
Zen Buddhism is a discipline where belief isn’t necessary.
The 5 Senses
Here is a simple meditation that focuses on your 5 senses that you’ll find extra rewarding to do in your garden. Find a comfortable place to sit in your garden and set a timer on a smartwatch or phone for 5 minutes.
Close your eyes.
Start with the sense of SMELL. As you focus on breathing in and out more deeply, try to notice what scents are in your garden. Perhaps there is something fragrant blooming or maybe it just rained and you can detect the odor of damp earth. Sometimes it is the smell of newly mown grass, or maybe just fresh air.
Next Move to SOUND. Open your ears to the many subtle sounds that you might have been tuning out. Perhaps you have a small fountain with running water, or there are birds singing. Maybe there is far away road traffic or the hum of an AC unit. Don’t judge what you hear. Rather observe and let it go.
The next one is a little harder but focus on your sense of TASTE. Maybe you just brushed your teeth or had a mint. Maybe there are some flavors lingering from your last meal, or maybe your mouth is fairly neutral. Again, observe.
TOUCH. Are you feeling cold or warm? Can you feel a soft breeze against your skin? How does your sitting surface feel against your legs or back? Use this sense to scan for any tension in the body or feelings of anxiety or stress. Continue deep breathing into these areas.
Lastly, open your eyes and really SEE your garden. What colors can you observe? How does the sunlight create a pattern with shadow? What kind of details have you not noticed before? Perhaps there is movement in the garden due to wildlife or a breeze?
Try to make this a daily routine. As you get more experienced try to increase the time you are able to sit in meditation. This meditation can be moved indoors on inclement days.