The holiday season inevitably brings long to-do lists, crowds, chaos and parties with too much tempting food, topped with a whopping dollop of stress like the enticing whipped cream on that pumpkin pie.
Take a breath. Give yourself the gift of peace this season. When we sing about peace, we traditionally think of peace on earth. Today, I encourage you to consider another focus of peace this holiday season: peace in your personal life.
Clambering to be the best hostess, decorate the perfect house and buy just the right gifts is enough to make anyone’s cortisol spike.
Not only does this run counter to the adage that giving gifts is more rewarding than getting them, it means you are taking from yourself instead of giving of yourself.
Instead of adding this to your to-do list, consider creating a peaceful, meditation garden space as a New Year’s goal. Not a resolution, hanging over your head, but simple inspiration to undertake a labor of love to enjoy the whole year through, providing respite for the next holiday season or other stressful times in your life.
My garden brings me joy. Every day of the year. Even my new garden, which is covered in ivy and seems like an endless series of waiting projects as I try to make it my own. But I have carved out a few spaces with plants I brought from my previous house. Welcoming them to my new home reminds me of the beauty of my previous garden and is a foreshadowing of the beauty to come in my current garden.
Maybe your garden isn’t quite what you’d like it to be. No worries. Just spending time in nature can be healing and reduce stress. So, for now, close your eyes, step outside for a little break to breathe in this crisp winter air and imagine the garden you wish for.
With a few simple tips or additions, you can have an inviting natural space for relaxing, meditating or reading a good book. There are no rules for doing it right, it’s about what is calming and comforting for you.
You can look to other gardens and spaces for inspiration. Search books and the internet for ideas.
Asian garden designs, for example, reflect a minimalist approach intended as spaces for meditation and self-reflection. Rather than ornamentation or swaths of plantings, these gardens instead focus on geometric patterns, water features and aged materials like stone. The simplicity of this style uses light and negative space to allow the eye and the mind to rest.
Elements for a meditation garden could include:
Comfortable seating for relaxing in nature
A fountain or birdbath
Natural stones or stone statuary
An open area of fine gravel or sand to create patterns
Broad swaths of space in between elements and plants
These gardens also use simple, limited color palettes and contrast, rather than a riot of colorful flowers. Consider using a few basic tones like dark green, gray-green and burgundy and focusing on texture instead of blooms for interest.
Traditional plants for Asian gardens often include:
Japanese maple trees
Yew trees and shrubs
Weeping varieties of trees like Yaupons
Groundcovers to weave under shrubs or trees
Meant to be a relaxing, contemplative and visually balanced space that brings you peace and joy, your meditation garden should include whatever makes you happy.
I wish you peace this holiday season.