Sometimes we consider our backyard as the perfect place to entertain friends and family. While I love entertaining, a backyard can fulfill so many other purposes. Have you ever considered your backyard as the perfect spot to retreat and self-reflect? Why not use your backyard as a personal meditation garden?
Every now and then, some peace and quiet can do you good. Not convinced? Here’s a quick rundown of the benefits of meditating.
Why You Should be Meditating (Outdoors)
There’s a reason why meditation retreats are often immersed in nature. Meditation can help control anxiety, lessen stress, improve and promote mental and emotional health. Stress tends to amplify pain and inflammation. Meditation can help alleviate that. Outdoor meditation can also activate our senses, making us more alert and mindful. Nature provides a welcome distraction away from electronic devices and everyday responsibilities.
Through meditation, you can also enhance self-awareness to better tune into your thought habits. Find yourself struggling to pay attention? Meditation can lengthen your attention span and may even reduce age-related memory loss.
Due to the boost in positive thoughts and feelings that meditation can produce, this can lead to a general increase in kindness (we could all do with more of that, especially in today’s world).
A strengthened immune system, lowered blood pressure, and other general physical health benefits are also associated with meditation. Plus my favorite benefit of all – improved sleep: meditation can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
A meditation garden is the perfect environment to foster a calming atmosphere that allows practitioners to relax and find the peace they’re seeking. So, how can you create the perfect Zen garden? Here are some ideas.
The Great Escape: How to Create Your Meditation Garden
Before you begin, it’s important to consider your lifestyle, personal needs, and preferences. What type of meditation will you be practicing? Some people find the act of gardening to be a form of meditation in itself. Or perhaps you prefer having an area to practice yoga? Once you’re clear on your intentions, you can begin the design process.
1. Choose a Quiet Corner
The purpose of a meditation garden is to help you feel tranquil, safe, and protected. It should be a private space, as separate as possible from your entertaining area. Select an area of your backyard and separate it (partially or completely) using shrubs, plants, a fence, or any other simple, low-maintenance material. Keep this area free of chaos. Remember, you’re trying to achieve a sense of calm.
2. Add Rocks, Pebbles, and Sand
Rocks, sand, and gravel are some of the more popular ways of adding a bit of Zen to your garden. This element is easy to make – simply create a space for your sand and add rocks wherever and however you please. Use a rake to create lines and/or relaxing ocean-like waves. The act of raking sand and rearranging rocks can be calming and helps to increase mindfulness. This is a great way to unwind and clear your mind. Additionally, rocks and sand require zero maintenance on your part – one less thing to worry about.
3. Incorporate Shade
Meditating with the sun beating down on you may get a little uncomfortable. Although sunshine is great for your outdoor meditation garden, you may want some filters for relief from heat – especially in summer. If you don’t have an ideally-placed tree, you can easily add shade by using a patio umbrella, shade sail, or pergola.
4. Create a Pathway
Many meditation gardens have a pathway leading to a seating area. Your pathway can be as simple or creative as you like. Consider using pavers, bricks, gravel, or stone, as well as spiral designs. If you have the space, a labyrinth is a great idea as it can symbolize the journey to finding your inner self.
5. Seating Area
This does not necessarily have to be an actual chair or bench. It could simply be a space to place your yoga mat, pillows, or even a hammock. What matters is how you intend to use the space in your meditation garden. If you want to read a book, consider a comfortable, waterproof outdoor sofa. If you intend to stretch, make sure your space is clear, flat, and can fit a yoga mat or two – there’s no harm in sharing your meditation garden with others who are also seeking relaxation.
Green is a soothing color and helps keep things natural. Add texture, shape, and varying shades to make your meditation garden more visually appealing. Consider native plants, trees (older growth trees already located in the space are ideal), hedges (shape them for visual interest), and shrubs – they’re low maintenance.
7. Add Scents
Lavender not only has visual appeal but its scent can be calming and help improve sleep. Consider other sweet-smelling perennials to awaken your senses. What is meditation without a dose of aromatherapy? Remember that these scents may attract birds and insects, so choose wisely.
8. Water Features
The soothing white noise of water has a calming effect. In fact, water sounds have long been used in meditation. There is scientific evidence suggesting that the in-and-out rhythmic motion of ocean tides and waves can positively affect the neuronal waves in the brain, promoting a peaceful pace of thought. Water can also mask any unwanted noise such as traffic. From a fountain to a pond or a birdbath – the choice is yours. If you can’t put in a water feature, consider using a white noise app that plays different water sounds.
9. Add Artwork
Art has the ability to tap into our inner selves – plus it’s visually appealing. From large-scale Buddha sculptures to small figurines, the artwork you choose for your meditation garden should calm, soothe, and inspire positive thinking. Consider yourself an artist? Create some art of your own.
If evening meditation is more your thing, consider some natural outdoor light such as candles or an outdoor fire pit or fireplace. To create a serene atmosphere, opt for dim lighting and stay away from overly bright, distracting lights.
Make Your Meditation Garden Your Sanctuary
There’s no need to travel to a yoga ashram à la “Eat Pray Love.” Sometimes there’s no place like home to gain some peace of mind. No matter what features you choose for your meditation garden, make sure they are authentically you. Create a personal outdoor space that allows for stillness, peace, and positivity – you deserve it.
Want more outdoor living ideas? Sign up for our newsletter below to receive our latest articles.