A Zen garden is an arrangement of rocks, moss, water features, bushes, gravel and/or sand that is carefully raked to symbolize water ripples. The Zen garden is meant to be viewed from a single viewpoint and is usually surrounded by walls. It is a peaceful and meditative area.
Why have a Zen Garden?
There are many reasons one might be inspired to create a Zen garden:
To have a space to meditate.
To have a calming place to go when stressed.
To relive a story or place your Zen garden reminds you of.
In 2016, a study was conducted by the Department of Tourism Management, Chinese Culture University, Taiwan, to take a closer look at the beauty and importance of Zen gardens. The study points out that one of the most important aspects of building a Zen garden is your imagination. From the study:
“The imagination is important in Zen garden. During the Muromachi Era (1335-1573) small Zen gardens were built in which Zen monks tried many different approaches to the design of stone gardens in an attempt to convey Zen concept of discipline, self-examination and ultimate enlightenment.”
Keep in mind, from the beginning, that there is no “right way” to build a Zen garden. Your imagination is the key to the process.
Zen Garden Basics Explained
Before you start on your Zen garden, it’s important to have a clear idea of what you are creating or what story you are “telling.” Here is a great video by Hiroshi “Hiro” Matsuda that does a great job of explaining the Zen Garden:
> The Basics of the Zen Garden
Building Your Zen Garden
Your Zen garden is a reflection of you. It is your story, your meditative space, and/or your “safe place.” There is no “right way” to build your Zen garden. However, there is some inspiration and direction that can help. Here is a video of how one Zen garden was built:
> How to Make Your Own Japanese Zen Garden:
Perhaps you want a more simple indoor one instead?
> How to Make an Indoor Zen Garden:
Zen Garden Inspiration
Your journey should begin with inspiration. Do an image search of “Zen Gardens” and pick out some of your favorites. Formulate in your mind and on paper what your Zen garden will look like and most importantly, why it will look that way. Watch some inspirational videos of people building a Zen garden, whether indoors or outdoors. Here’s an inspiring video:
> Zen Garden Inspiration:
Zen Garden Alternatives
If you find that creating your own Zen garden isn’t a project you are ready to tackle yet, then there are two other options you may want to consider:
Desktop Zen Gardens Did you know that there are a plethora of desktop Zen Gardens that you can buy on Amazon.com? It’s a way of bringing a smaller peaceful setting to your office. Search “desktop Zen Gardens” on Amazon to see many designs.
YouTube Zen Gardens with Music Let your mind relax and recharge with some of the great Zen Garden / Zen Garden Music videos on YouTube. Here is one you may enjoy:
We all live busy lives and taking time to reflect and meditate is important. So whether you experience a Zen garden in your backyard, on your desk, or via YouTube, know that the time spent with it will pay dividends in your life.