Guest post by Nina Simons
The Zen garden, also called Japanese rock garden is a stylized landscape carefully composed of raked sand or rocks with water features, moss, pruned trees and precisely clipped bushes. Creating a Zen garden in your outdoor area is a perfect way to reduce stress, focus on finding your inner peace and develop a sense of well being. The main principles of a Zen garden are to emphasize naturalness (Shizen), simplicity (Kanso), and austerity (Koko). Accepting these principles and creating a perfect serenity sanctuary in your backyard will bring you peace and tranquility. Now that we understand what a Zen garden is and what it represents, here are some tips on how to create a perfect serenity nook and inspire spirituality.
The entrance to the peacefulness
Most Zen gardens are enclosed so the best place to start when creating your own is with the entrance. A gate in a Zen garden lets us know we are entering a serenity sanctuary, a defined space and that all the negativity stays at the door. Placing a large stone by the entrance is a sign of welcome for anyone who is searching for a sanctuary.
Foundational elements in the road to spirituality
One of the most important elements in the Zen gardens is rocks or Ishi. Rocks are foundational items that represent hills and mountains, and arranging them the right way is the key to achieving your inner Zen. It is very important not to put too many rocks or pebbles so that the area won’t look cluttered because it is all about the simplicity and balance. It is recommended to arrange the stones in the groups of three, in straight lines or symmetrical patterns and to avoid brightly colored rocks because they will distract you on your path to peacefulness. Vertically arranged stones symbolize trees while horizontally arranged represent water and the arching ones represent fire. Every element of a Zen garden has its meaning and helps us develop the sense of well being.
The main part of a Zen garden, beside the precisely placed rocks and stones, is carefully raked sand or gravel in a spiral or round patterns. The reason why this is done is that the patterns on the gravel represent the sea and the movement of water and they encourage meditation and introspection.
The path to tranquility
The paths are essential to any garden but paths in a Zen space are crucial since they navigate us to peacefully focus on our thoughts, to concentrate on the garden’s essence, to enjoy all of our senses and connect with nature while following a path that will eventually lead us to tranquility. Following a Zen path creates a unique experience for each individual while showing that even though we are surrounded by other people in our lives, our journey is truly our own.
The shape is also important because we tend to associate straight paths with speed and movement and curved ones with slowness and enjoyment. A zigzag path, also called yatsuhashi, is perfect for creating a peaceful vibe in your rock garden but you should choose the shape that makes you feel calm and helps focus on spirituality.
Alternative ways to achieve spirituality
If you don’t have a garden but you feel you need your own serenity nook, you can make a small desk Zen garden that can help you relax and focus on finding your inner peace. Making an office desk rock garden has mental as well as psychological health benefits and you can feel connected to nature even though you are indoors. It will encourage meditation and help you calm down in stressful situations and clearing your mind will help you make better decisions.
One fantastic benefit of Zen gardens is the fact that they can be created anywhere. If you are living in a building you can DIY a rock garden on your balcony or (altogether with other tenants) create a perfect serenity sanctuary in a rooftop garden. By creating a rooftop garden not only you will have enough space to create a spiritual sanctuary but you will help keep the environment healthy at the same time. Since we want to achieve simplicity and balance in our Zen garden, it means we need a de-cluttered space and that is why the rooftop garden can be a bit problematic because of the lack of space. Well, the best way is to invest in retractable hose reels and improvise a storage facility (rooftop shed) where you can put away other gardening equipment so that you can concentrate on the natural elements around you and completely focus on your thought and your inner Zen.
It is not important to make your garden look exactly like the traditional Japanese rock garden, it is essential to make a perfect sanctuary that will help you get closer to nature. There is no a manual that will tell you in detail how to arrange and combine elements, you should create your own nook that will inspire your own spirituality. After all, it is about – you – enjoying spending time in your Zen space, focusing on achieving your inner peacefulness.