Americans have less free time than ever in our history view more. Schedules that are jam packed, constant and instantaneous cyber-connectivity, families and engagements take a toll on our peace of mind and inner peace. Studies show that illnesses related to stress are skyrocketing, but the percentage of people who describe a happy and comfortable life is declining at free-fall rates.
This plight doesn’t have to be your plight, however. Experts in mediation and those who study it have long known that it can help recovery and prevention from mental and physical conditions. In fact, our overall health is greatly improved through deep breathing, relaxation and time to reflect. If this all sounds good to you, maybe come spring you can create an outdoor meditation space that will help you find mindfulness and inner peace anytime of the year.
Distance your meditation space from the hub of your home and yard
Distance doesn’t have to be in linear feet. In this context, it means separation. To find real relaxation, you should remove yourself from the sights, sounds, and smells, yes smells, that trigger your daily stress. The barking dog, the dishes that need to be put in the dishwasher, the bleeping smart phone. These are distractions that make up your daily life, but that intrude on your moments of meditation. One of the best ways to escape these is in your yard. A pergola or gazebo is a great place to find peace and distance. If winter won’t make these feasible, a cabana or pool house could give you the right amount of shelter and solitude. Whatever space you have or choose, the point is to create a space where your worries and cares of the day are just plain not allowed.
One really cool concept is from ancient Japan and China and it’s the garden bridge. The symbolism is that when you cross the bridge, you cross to a peaceful place. Install a garden bridge, even if you don’t have anything that needs bridging, to give your mind a barrier that changes your outlook once you walk over it. Another ancient concept is some sort of zig-zag pattern in the walkway that gets you to your meditation space. Evil spirits of folklore could only travel in straight lines, so they can’t follow you to your serenity. It may sound silly in our modern world, but you don’t have to believe in evil spirits to make the concept work for you. It’s no different than how an athlete warms up to get his muscles stretched before a match. You need that time to get ready to work and stretch your mind and soul.
Create your connection with nature
Nothing is more peaceful than the sounds, sights and smells of nature. Your home may be comfortable and cozy, or elegant and impressive and a source of great pride. But it’s not nature. Your yard is probably natural, by definition. But if you pick a spot for a pergola or gazebo that doesn’t particularly have much lushness, invest in some flowers and plants. Not only do they provide soothing comfort, if you can plant some with your favorite aromas, they help you find the inner peace you are seeking. If your space is enclosed, like a cabana or pool house, make sure you’ve got windows to let in the outdoors. Or, bring in bonsai trees and other foliage.
But wait – you say you have a brown thumb, so how are you going to keep all this plant life alive? Well, studies show that a connection with nature brings peaceful thoughts and calms the mind. Do some research and find plants and flowers that even your skill level can tend to.