“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”
~ Albert Einstein
When my parents decided to renovate and expand our family home, much thought and care was given as to how to protect a stately Carolina hemlock tree that stood next to the house. They opted to design and build right around it, creating an open-air atrium in the center of the new part of the house.
The hemlock was a continual source of fascination for me during my childhood, and I watched birds and other animals inhabit the tree from the other side of the glass. My parents’ decision to protect that tree was a source of deep pride and reinforced what I already knew about their philosophy of and boundless love for Nature.
Years before they built the tree atrium, my dad created a Japanese garden in the center of his beloved store, the Stone Lantern. There were moss-covered stones that circled the small pond, and bamboo trees that seemingly grew while you stared at them. There were granite Buddhas, stone lanterns, and Japanese water basins supplied with bamboo pipe. It was open to the outside, and you could watch rain fall into the pond, or see snow settle into the leaves on the bamboo and miniature maple trees on cold, winter days.
Like the atrium-shrine to the tree at our house, the Japanese garden at the Stone Lantern gave me the same feeling meditation gives me today: a sense of grounded calm and connection to everything and everyone.
Take a moment now and look around the interior of your home. Do you have areas of your home that bring the outside inside, either through expansive windows, outdoor living spaces that flow from the interior, a sunroom or similar space where sunlight bathes the room, or through interior garden spaces? If not, don’t despair! There are no shortages of options available to you, regardless of home size and/or design.
You could add a small, vertical garden to one of your wall spaces. Such a living wall allows you to create a Zen space that thrives indoors. There are companies that sell units ready made for easy installation, or you can build your own. Fill the planter with a range of wild succulents for pretty greenery you can enjoy year-round. Or, you could purchase a tower garden and have healthy greens for viewing and consuming! If those options seem too ambitious, you could purchase colorful planters for your windowsill and create a small herb garden for your kitchen. Also, small pocket planters for the wall are ideal locations for air plants – no green thumb required.
The physical and emotional health benefits of immersing ourselves in Nature are well documented, yet sometimes we cannot spend as much time as we would like in the woods (even though they are in our backyards). You can bring your forest bathing indoors and create your own space for meditation. With just a little bit of effort, you can begin enjoying the calming, peaceful presence of bringing the outdoors into your home or workspace. By adding more stillness into everyday living, you’ll notice you possess a new ability to see more clearly and feel more centered. Ideas and open channels to your creativity appear.
You also may discover a strengthened and blissful connection to everything and everyone.