Take your worries away: How Zen garden can become your daily dose of mindfulness - Hindustan Times

Take your worries away: How Zen garden can become your daily dose of mindfulness

ByZarafshan Shiraz, New Delhi
May 01, 2024 07:11 PM IST

Popularly termed as a Japanese rock garden, a Zen garden is perfect place to relax and wind down. Here's how it helps center yourself and scout for inner peace

Human beings have a distinctive requisite to unite with nature and this longing only grows stronger when we reside in urban settings as for this reason, most city dwellers build and preserve gardens in their personal spaces to revel in nature amidst the concrete jungle and one type of garden that has gained significance in current years is the Zen garden. A Zen garden is focused on the careful arrangements of rocks, sand and plants and this type of green space helps in encouraging contemplation and calmness.

Take your worries away: How Zen garden can become your daily dose of mindfulness (Photo by ASHLEY BANSON)
Take your worries away: How Zen garden can become your daily dose of mindfulness (Photo by ASHLEY BANSON)

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Vick Rana, Chairman at Stone Sapphire India Pvt Ltd, shared, “Also popularly termed as a Japanese rock garden, a Zen garden is a perfect place to relax and wind down but it’s also so much more than that. The moment you visit a Zen garden, all you can soak in is the serenity and stillness that comes with it. A Zen garden is more than just a visually pleasing outdoor space; it’s a place that can retune your mood and recover your emotive wellness. It really does not matter if the space is open and roomy or is small in size, at its core, a Zen garden is a place to help you centre yourself and scout for your inner peace.”

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He highlighted the benefits of living amidst a Zen garden to the human mind and body -

  1. Reduces stress and anxiety: Typically, gardens are a popular means of plummeting stress and anxiety. Zen gardens take it up a notch further by intentionally leaning on a simple design to raise a sense of peace and serenity within their enclosed spaces.
  2. Improves focus and memory: Zen gardens encompasses of abstract but uncluttered rock, gravel, and greenery arrangements to aid the brain to pause and reflect. These gardens hearten you to slow down, inhale, and adapt your senses to the scenery, which is advantageous for improving focus and memory.
  3. Boosts the immune system: Zen gardens can also positively impact the immune system. Zen gardens help in enhancing intense meditation, thus leading to robust immune system activation.
  4. Upsurges the intake of oxygen and lessens pollutants: Living in a concrete jungle, increases our exposure to indoor and outdoor contaminants, which may badly impact our well-being. Thankfully, Zen Garden plants can help in majorly reducing air pollutants, like nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide, and recover air quality.

Overall, a Zen garden can be a peaceful and rejuvenating place to spend time and practice mindfulness. Echoing the same, Ar. Nomita Sawhney, Founder of Design by Meta, revealed, “The art of not doing, observing being quiet and peaceful is dependent on the state of calm of our immediate environment. The aspect of Zen, emphasises one to pause and take in the view, ruminate or think deeply. Many people are disconnected from nature in their daily lives and a Zen space or garden allows one to provide that connection.”

She explained, “During the Muromachi period in Japan, arts related to zen culture including calligraphy, tea ceremony, flower arrangements, martial arts and landscaping design of garden blossomed. There was a very vital connect between the samurai, who practised the art of the tea ceremony and cultivated zen gardens. On one side they were warriors and on the other side they developed a peaceful calmness in their zen training. Zen isn't just about sitting cross-legged and meditating (which is zazen, or seated meditation). All the related activities, from sweeping the garden and chopping vegetables, to the tea ceremony, ikebana (flower arrangement), and landscape gardening are all considered practices of Zen discipline, aimed at fine tuning the mind towards spiritual awakening.”

According to her, the most famous and popular Zen garden is at Ryoanji Temple. She siad, “Uncluttered spaces help unclutter the mind, invoking a kind of meditative state. The meaning of Ryoanji's garden is still a mystery. There are 15 rocks in the garden, but you can see only 14 of them at a time – whichever angle you look from. The number 15 implies 'perfection' in Oriental culture. The number 14 means 'imperfect'. For Japanese people, it's beautiful precisely because it's not perfect or carefully careless. This idea is also called wabi-sabi. Wabi-sabi is a concept that finds beauty in imperfection, in objects which embody character by age, imperfection and transient. It infuses much of Zen art and design. So, imperfection, is an attribute in Japanese culture.”

She concluded, “When entering a Zen garden for the first time, it's hard to avoid a sense of wonder at the mesmerising sight of the finely raked sand and gravel – in wavy lines, straight lines or concentric circles – broken only by a handful of rocks, perhaps a shrub or two or a clump of moss but definitely no flowers. Intuitively you are in the midst of a powerful space which has meaning and makes you think. The starkness of the composition of the rocks, sometimes with a cascade of a carefully composed waterfall layered in the backdrop of a traditional building. The landscape makes us escape, making us come face to face with one self, a place of solitude, calmness and meditative silence.”

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