Originally created by Buddhist monks as a means of meditation, Zen gardens aren’t just beautiful, eco-friendly and relatively easy to create, but they also offer mental, emotional and even physical health benefits. If you’ve been tinkering with the idea of your own Zen, sand or rock garden, the end of summer is the perfect time to transition. This is your space for meditation, whether it’s simply contemplating and reflecting on the day or a place to get creative and write, sketch or paint.
Even better, a Zen garden is a means of extending your interior space to the outdoors. You can create a walking meditation circle, such as a simple maze where you can practice inner reflections. You can pepper in comfortable outdoor seating, turning your Zen space into a peaceful social area. No matter what type of vibe you’re after, one thing is certain—dry landscape can make for a gorgeous garden.
Benefits of a Zen Garden
Maybe you don’t have a green thumb, the time for a flower/plant/veggie garden or you live in a region where it’s not eco-friendly to have a green yard. All of these situations might mean a Zen approach is better for you. Historically, Zen gardens are created with sand, and intricate rake patterns are brushed into them daily. If you want to go authentic, the regular rakings can be a great way to slow down and reflect.
However, there are no “rules” when it comes to Zen gardens, just the foundation of a “dry landscape.” This can include anything from pebbles to sawdust. Some Zen gardens have water features, sculpted shrubs or trees, reeds or tall grass plants. They tend to have a minimalist, calming feel to them.
Numerous studies have showcased the benefits of meditation—or in some cases simply slowing down, not looking at a screen and indulging in a little “you” time. Those who meditate enjoy less illness, fewer chronic diseases and fewer signs of stress (such as thinning hair and weight gain). It can improve your relationships, your career and your self-image. However, few people have the time to attend a regular meditative yoga class, but you do have time to spend a few minutes each day in your Zen garden.
While rose bushes might be lovely and an herb garden can provide farm to table fare, don’t forget to take care of yourself while gardening and take time to celebrate the moment.