We know that pretty things, like art, make us smile, relieve stress, and decrease pain. So why not surround ourselves with it in the places where we most often experience stress? Further, what if that art was interactive? Introducing: The zen garden.

A little context, please?

Originating in China before being popularized by Japanese culture, Zen gardens are essentially meditation devices that allow the user to create their own personal reflection space. Some Zen gardens include plants, rocks, and water features while others choose to keep it simple with just sand or gravel to provide mental space without obstruction. These optional items are used to symbolize nature like mountains, while circular patterns symbolize water. Everything is meant to be connected to all other elements of the Zen garden, so rather than focusing on symmetry, Zen gardens often display interactions between objects, represented by the patterns raked into the sand.

Many of our Plant Nite event Zen garden projects include figurines such as mini Buddhas and gems, among many other options. These can serve as focal points to aid in meditation. A rake is typically used to create patterns in the sand or gravel which symbolizes the flow of water. Both the act of creating these patterns and the viewing of the finished product can assist in reaching a contemplative or meditative state.

Great…but I don’t have the space for that!

The benefits provided by Zen gardens can be translated into a much smaller scope. You don’t need a large space because a simple tabletop Zen garden can be just as beneficial. With such a small footprint, these tabletop gardens are perfect reminders to slow down and enjoy beauty in the little things. Below are just two of the many Zen gardens in our Plant Nite project library that are designed to give you reflection space with pops of color from beautiful succulents.

But does it have to be all about meditation?

Of course not! The benefits of having a Zen garden go far beyond meditation. Giving yourself a small piece of nature can relieve stress. Can’t catch your breath? The repetitive movement of creating patterns in the sand helps focus your breathing. Need to zone out for a moment? Raking a Zen garden is much like doodling but like an Etch A Sketch, your design can vanish when you’re ready to start again. Having trouble finding a spark of creativity? Pick up your mini rake and let your brain recalibrate.

Cool, but I’ll never use the sand patterns

Looking for something a little more planted and a little less spacious? Zen gardens don’t necessarily have to be about the sand patterns. Here are some other Plant Nite projects that provide a sense of calm and balance:

Whether you just want a pop of color on your desk, a reminder to slow down and breath, or a tool to engage your mind and body simultaneously, a Zen garden may be a beneficial addition to your home or workspace. And at Plant Nite events, we encourage you to have a social experience making it before you embark on your own spiritual or stress-relieving journey with it later.

Yaymaker has a vast project library full of one of a kind originals created by Yaymaker Hosts. All Projects featured here may not be available in your area.