What is a Meditation Garden? In simple terms meditation gardens are places of worship. I don’t mean to offend anyone but truth be told the middle of the forest is a meditation garden. You could debate language and ideas all day. Solitude with the sounds and smells of things not man made are generally considered meditation gardens.
I can’t imagine that my previous sentence will make it easy for most people to readily agree. So many people want the sounds and smells of nature without the cars screaming by and without our next door neighbors children yelling all day as they play in the pool. I need everyone to imagine sitting in the middle of the forest. Hundred year old trees towering overhead. A moss laden leaf embedded forest floor under foot. The sounds of crickets, the wind playing through the leaves and some nearby brook spilling water onto it’s little banks at every turn and rock protrusion. You get my point. Well I hope you do. We so often visit these places wondering how to bring these sensations home with us.
We practice these same behaviors when shopping for furniture, light fixtures, window treatments and flooring choices. We have been imprinted by so many experiences that we eventually try creating our own special place to call home. A place of reflection demonstrating peace and safety. So the question remains. How do we take the sensations of the forrest home? Unbelievably it is quite simple and most people have the beginning of the forrest experience without doing anything. Unfortunately most people don’t stay up all hours of the night like me looking and listening to the trees and gardens. What do they say you ask? I can’t tell you. You must go out late one evening when most people are fast asleep and listen for yourself. Your ears hear a uniquely different song then mine or anyone else’s. Like I have written in previous articles, based on each of our different accumulated experiences, we all have a slightly different skew as to how we see and interpret the environment around us. Now this is exciting.
Gardens have been created all over the world demonstrating different needs and desires. The main constants are the shade tree, the pathway and the destination point. If you use the average forest or woodlot as a reference point you will understand what most garden/landscape designers try to mimic. Most every garden ever conceived is rooted from something in the natural world. Man imitating nature is clearly the overall design scheme. What part of nature do you want to come home to every day? Most landscape architects have a meeting with you then come up with their interpretation of what you would like based on their own experience. I believe this is where the educational system has failed. Students are taught to understand the angles, the history of garden development through the ages and even some plant idea but nothing about the interaction between the individual person and the natural world around us. What does this all mean? It means the amount of time a designer needs to spend with both homeowner and property is paramount in the process of developing what would most suite those individual people with that unique pieces of land.
All this has led up to my overall theme. Reflecting on the lives we choose to live. In reflection I find it important to consider not only how we have impacted the natural world (nature) but the man made world as well. Since we coexist with both realities we need to consider both incorporating elements of both to suite our overall needs. Not much space is needed but sometimes the more area you have the easier it is to start. Small spaces need a tremendous amount of thought so as not to waste time and money in development. I feel that I need to conclude here. Places of meditation should be sacred and everyone needs to know and understand that when entering and sharing other people’s sanctuaries of safety respect and consideration are of the highest priority. This should be a lesson taught to children from the moment they come into this world. Children can inherit a sense of responsibility through a shared experience. We all need to spread the garden gospel. It doesn’t mater if it is as simple as a concrete path to one small tree with a stump by its side. If it demonstrates safety, solitude and serenity it is a meditation garden.
May all who pass my words find something that they are able to understand and use for themselves. Enjoy the long days of summer and don’t forget to open your windows once a week to invite the outdoors in. Peace.