How to create your own outdoor meditation space
Americans have less free time than ever before in our history. Packed schedules, constant and instant cyber connectivity, families and commitments affect our tranquility and inner peace. Studies show that stress-related illnesses are skyrocketing, but the percentage of people who describe a happy and comfortable life is declining at a dizzying rate.
However, this situation does not have to be your situation. Mediation experts and those who study it have long known that it can aid in the recovery and prevention of mental and physical conditions. In fact, our overall health is greatly improved through deep breathing, relaxation, and time to reflect. If all of this sounds good to you, perhaps come spring you can create an outdoor meditation space that will help you find mindfulness and inner peace at any time of the year.
Move your meditation space away from the center of your home and garden
The distance does not have to be in linear feet. In this context, it means separation. To find true relaxation, you need to get away from the sights, sounds, and smells—yes, smells—that trigger your daily stress. The barking dog, the dishes to put in the dishwasher, the beeping smartphone. These are distractions that make up your daily life, but get in the way of your moments of meditation. One of the best ways to escape these is in your garden. A pergola or gazebo is a great place to find peace and distance. If winter doesn’t make it feasible, a cabin or pool house might provide just 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 simply not allowed.
A 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 quiet place. Install a garden bridge, even if you don’t have anything that needs a bridge, to give your mind a barrier that changes your perspective once you cross it. Another old concept is some kind of zig-zag pattern on the walkway that leads you to your meditation space. The evil spirits of folklore can only travel in a straight line, so they cannot follow you to your serenity. It may sound silly in our modern world, but you don’t have to believe in evil spirits for the concept to work for you. It’s not unlike how an athlete warms up to stretch their muscles before a game. You need that time to prepare 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 can be comfortable and cosy, or elegant and impressive and a source of great pride. But it is not nature. Your garden is probably natural, by definition. But if you choose a spot for a pergola or gazebo that doesn’t have much lushness, invest in some flowers and plants. Not only do they provide soothing comfort, if you can plant a few with your favorite scents, they help you find the inner peace you seek. If your space is enclosed, like a cabana or pool, make sure you have windows to let the outside in. 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 to nature brings peaceful thoughts and calms the mind. Do some research and find plants and flowers that even your skill level can care for.
water is soothing
Sound can be hugely relaxing or incredibly stressful. Car horns, sirens, construction noise. These sounds can irritate your nerves and give you a near anxiety attack. On the other hand, water is incredibly calming and can wash away stress and frustrations. Whether it’s waves lapping on the sand, gentle rain or a fountain. Incorporate an actual water source into your meditation space. You don’t have to hire a landscape architect to build you an expensive mini-waterfall and babbling brook in your backyard. A simple tabletop fountain may be all that is needed. They are not that expensive and run on battery or wall power. Place it close to you so it covers neighborhood cars or planes.
do not overdo the decoration
The most peaceful meditation spaces are minimal. Clutter, for some people, in itself is a stressor. A comfortable chair or soft floor cushion, possibly a side table for a sound machine, incense burner, or meditation bells is probably all you need. This is not where you’ll put your expensive outdoor dining set or pool bar. Create your meditation space away from those distractions. Even with your eyes closed, you’ll know they’re there and can interrupt your mindfulness.
Even if you can’t meditate, you can still find inner peace.
Newbies to meditation often give up because meditation requires practice. Some never really master it. If you are one of them, don’t worry. It is not necessary to be an expert mediator to create a space to find peace. A hammock, porch swing, or rocking chair may be all you need for a few minutes a day to create your meditation space. Or even a reading nook, deep in a corner of your garden that gets a great morning sun, can become your oasis of solitude. The real key is to choose a place that separates you from your stressors and allows you to connect with nature and your inner peace.
As Americans get older and older, and our lives connect faster, finding mindfulness and inner peace can seem more and more difficult. But that inner peace does not have to be. Acknowledge what’s already in your yard, maybe make some alterations and create an outdoor meditation area.