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1. Winding pathways for ‘walking meditation‘ designed to slow the pace and concentrate the mind. Undulating surfaces or stepping-stones over water are particularly effective! The pathways can act as metaphors for life’s journey, with meaningful sculptures or proverbs placed along the way to lift the soul of the spiritual traveller. The Japanese Kaiyu-shiki or Strolling Gardens have the same principle.

2. Small, vine-covered platforms or spaces to sit, rest and observe. These are often under trees, to ground and protect the sitter.

3. Birds and wildlife to bring song, movement and joy. Feeding and care of other living things is key to balance and well-being. The Buddhist approach is to plan your gardening so it dserene garden style buddhaoes least harm to other creatures and brings them most benefit. This might mean sharing a little more of the fruits of your labour than you’d normally wish; but the teaching is to consider the needs of all users!

4. Still water with floating flowers and slow-moving fish to calm and soothe. To Buddhists, the way a beautiful lotus flower grows out of muddy water symbolises the way in which we can overcome our confusion and faults and grow into our own beauty. Water-lilies can fulfill the same role in our cooler climate.

5. Goodwill symbols; almost a physical prayer (although Buddhists have no god to pray to, just humanity) these can be bells, colourful flags or, as at the Samye Ling Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Scotland, a ‘wishing tree’ to which small wishing ribbons are tied until their colour and potency fade and they are removed.


A few hours in a beautiful, peaceful garden is better than an expensive visit to a spa. Indeed sometimes the highlight of the weekend is wandering outside, coffee and papers in hand, to flop down into your own green oasis.

The serene garden can be created by careful, quite restrictive choice of plants to provide privacy, movement, texture and scent, teamed with clever use of even the smallest space, to lead you on a sensual and visual journey.

Focal points – a sculpture or a water bowl – slow the eye. Quality stone or wood flooring is worth taking your shoes off for. And a daybed or simple bench invite you to pause, enjoy and breathe.