At one with Na­ture: Cre­at­ing a med­i­ta­tion gar­den

Cre­at­ing a med­i­ta­tion gar­den

Alberta Gardener Magazine - - Contents - By Tania Mof­fat

We all need some­where to un­wind and de-stress, for most of us, that place is our gar­den. The act of gar­den­ing it­self re­laxes and calms us, so it is no won­der that we turn to that same place for a re­set when we need one. In these days of go, go, go we suf­fer from more self-im­posed stress than the gen­er­a­tions be­fore us. With so much run­ning through our minds tak­ing time to slow down and med­i­tate in na­ture is a lux­ury that more of us should be em­brac­ing.

You don’t have to chant or be­long to any re­li­gion to med­i­tate, you just need your­self and a peace­ful spot. Some­where to fo­cus on your per­sonal in­ten­tions, a place to prac­tice mind­ful­ness and clear your thoughts. There is no bet­ter lo­ca­tion to dis­con­nect with the out­side world than the gar­den.

If you’ve been won­der­ing how to cre­ate a med­i­ta­tion gar­den, re­lax you don't need to fol­low set rules or in­struc­tions. The space need only be one that you find calm­ing.

There are sev­eral fea­tures you can in­cor­po­rate into a med­i­ta­tion gar­den; your job is to find those that suit your needs. Ask your­self, 'What am I go­ing to use this space for? Med­i­ta­tion, Yoga, Tai Chi or just for pure aes­thetic en­joy­ment?' Then get ideas from dif­fer­ent med­i­ta­tion gar­dens around the world. Bud­dhist gar­dens and those from Ja­pan, China, and the Mid­dle East are a good place to start. Once your be­gin to pin­point what styles appeal to you, the fun can start! It's time to de­cide what as­pects you want to in­cor­po­rate into your gar­den.

De­sign el­e­ments and ideas

Se­cret gar­den: Is this part of the gar­den go­ing to be sep­a­rated from the rest? Will you want to have a pri­vate, en­closed space or an open-air space view­able from the en­tire gar­den? Sep­a­ra­tion can be in­cor­po­rated through the use of trel­lises, bam­boo branches, trees or shrubs, cur­tains, etc.

Size: How much space do you need for your gar­den? De­cid­ing this early on will help you with your plant­ing de­ci­sions and de­sign cre­ation.

Wind­ing paths: Paths sym­bol­ize a jour­ney, maybe even the path to find­ing your­self. Per­haps you would like to have a wind­ing path lead­ing to your gar­den to give you a sense of ar­rival when your reach this spe­cial space.

Run­ning wa­ter: Wa­ter­falls, ponds or foun­tains can pro­vide a peace­ful white noise to drown out traf­fic or neigh­bour­hood noise. The sound of wa­ter is very calm­ing and is of­ten used as a back­ground in med­i­ta­tions.

Sim­plic­ity: Med­i­ta­tion gar­dens typ­i­cally are not busy or over­whelm­ing since their in­tent is to cre­ate peace. De­signs of­ten use a per­gola or plat­form to cre­ate a de­fined med­i­ta­tion space. Benches, chairs or cush­ions can also be used. Clean lines and the use of rocks or peb­bles is another com­mon as­pect. The gar­den should have a smooth flow­ing de­sign and be sit­u­ated so that it is eas­ily view­able from where you will be med­i­tat­ing.

Plants: Plants are po­si­tioned to pro­vide in­spi­ra­tion, and are of­ten aligned to cre­ate a peace­ful viewpoint. Asian shrub and tree va­ri­eties are great choices. You can de­sign a gar­den for every sea­son through care­ful plant se­lec­tion.

Colour: Colours are used to cre­ate a mood. Green soothes emo­tions and de­creases stress. Blue is used to cre­ate a calm, pro­tec­tive and re­lax­ing en­vi­ron­ment. Red is phys­i­cal and en­er­giz­ing, while orange and yel­low help to lift the spirit. Dark tones are re­lax­ing but can also deaden emo­tions. White gives one a feel­ing of free­dom but also of iso­la­tion and there­fore is not found in many for­mal me­di­a­tion gar­dens. Re­gard­less of what the colours sup­pos­edly mean, this is your space and you need to plant what makes you feel at peace with na­ture.

Like most gar­dens, med­i­ta­tion gar­dens use key el­e­ments such as bal­ance (plants of sim­i­lar size or tex­ture) and unity (re­peat­ing plant ma­te­ri­als) in their de­sign. What­ever you do, do it mind­fully and en­joy. Na­maste.

A med­i­ta­tion gar­den isn't nec­es­sar­ily just for med­i­ta­tion – it's a place to slow down and catch your breath.

Stones rep­re­sent the eter­nal or truth. His­tor­i­cally they rep­re­sented in­di­vid­ual spir­its or silent be­ings.

Sim­ple, soft lines are less dis­rup­tive to our senses.

Bal­ance and unity can help to cre­ate a calm­ing ef­fect.

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