Secrets of Serenity – Creating A Mindful Backyard

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Throughout human history, gardens have played an important role in the healing process and overall well-being. From the Monastic Cloister gardens to Japanese Zen garden, these spaces were designed and valued for their physical, spiritual, and emotional healing properties. However, over time humans on a large scale relocated from rural settings into urban areas, leaving green spaces and their restorative properties behind.

When daily life is frequently defined using words like stressed, busy, frantic, rushed, and crazy, people are actively seeking out spaces where they can escape to find peace and solitude. This longing and search for serenity is leading us from the office space and the city streets right back to green spaces and gardens.

Recent studies find that viewing natural scenes or elements aids in stress recovery by:

  • Evoking positive feelings
  • Reducing negative emotions
  • Holding attention and interest
  • Blocking or reducing stressful thoughts

Renewed awareness of the connection between mindfulness and well-being – and how green spaces and natural elements play a big role – has triggered a growing movement in gardening circles. Landscape architects and designers now specialize in exciting new garden forms, in a wide variety of settings. From healing gardens in hospitals to personal backyard meditation gardens, there is a flourishing trend to create quiet places where we can simply sit down and feel surrounded by a calm stillness.

Here's what's trending in garden and landscape design for creating a personal serenity spot in your own backyard.

Install a Unique Water Feature for Instant Serenity

Imagine coming home from work, dropping your bag or papers on the table, and stepping out your back door to sit in your favorite lounge chair. You close your eyes and feel the stress melt away as you listen to the soothing sounds of running water. With so many options available you are sure to find one to fit your space and budget.

 A flowing water feature also improves air quality and reduces noise pollution. And, according to the ancient Chinese study of Feng Shui, flowing water attracts wealth.

Find Peace in Your Own Meditation Garden

To help you get in a “Zen place” consider adding a meditation garden. This is an outdoor space that provides a quiet separation and allows you to pray and meditate where you can see, feel, smell, and hear nature.

The aim is to create a get-away spot that facilitates contemplation. It should seem slightly secluded but not cramped, and can be tucked into shrubbery or surrounded by flowers or tall grasses.

Other elements frequently found in meditation gardens including a water feature, Zen-inspired design and structures, and deep symbolism.

Outdoor Yoga Space

The beauty of yoga is that it can be practiced anywhere. All you need outdoors is a flat area with enough room to roll out your mat, and you're all set to experience an invigorating change to your yoga routine. In fact, outdoor yoga enthusiasts refer to it as a portal to new awareness because of the added elements of sunlight, breezes, birds and animals.

If you get serious about having a designated outdoor yoga space, you can install a wooden platform and surround it with plants and flowers to help make the most of your outdoor yoga sessions.

Get in on the Hygge Trend

Hygge (pronounced 'hue-guh') is a Danish concept that is hard to translate into one word. It's best described as a feeling of cozy contentment and well-being while enjoying the simple things in life. Hygge requires a conscious appreciation and a certain deliberate slowness of action in order to truly recognize and enjoy the present moment.

With these concepts in mind, here's how you can incorporate hygge in your outdoor spaces:

  • Arrange a comfortable chair in the perfect spot to watch the birds and butterflies that are attracted to your feeders or flowers, or to catch a spectacular sunrise or sunset.
  • Create an intimate sitting area by placing the chairs close enough for quiet conversation
  • In cooler weather, snuggle under a blanket or gather around a firepit.
  • As night falls, light some candles or lanterns for an enchanting glow.

Use Flowers to Instill Meaning as Well as Beauty

Including flowers with special meaning is another mindful way to garden. Flowers have long been used as a sort of “secret language of the soul,” with each flower symbolizing specific virtues.

Here are a few more ways to promote mindfulness with flowers: 

  • A cutting garden: Growing your own favorite blooms gives you an abundant supply of fresh bouquets and arrangements for many months. And it's a way to bring the colors, textures and fragrance from the garden into your home where you can continue to enjoy them.
  • A white garden: Planting an all-white garden creates a magical scene at dusk because as daylight fades the flowers and foliage appear to glow after the others have receded into the darkness.
  • A night-blooming flower garden – You'll be amazed every time you sit and watch these flowers unfold after sunset as nighttime deepens. As an added bonus: you'll also often be rewarded with some heady aromas to engage your sense of smell.
  • A fragrance garden: There's nothing more delightful than catching the scent of lavender or roses as you walk around your garden. Add the often-overlooked dimension of scent to your garden by positioning fragrant plants near and around seating areas or walking paths where someone brushing by releases their fragrance.

Do you want to trade the hurry and stress in your life for some peace and tranquility? With a little planning and help from a landscape professional, you can turn your backyard into the ultimate private retreat that promotes mindfulness and well-being.

Photo courtesy of Mariani Landscape, Lake Bluff, IL, a member of the National Association of Landscape Professionals.