If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.
Struggling with stress at home and at work? Feel like you need a break from never-ending work meetings, and your daily grind of pick ups and drop offs, errands, and all the non-stop thoughts and worries that plague your daily life?
Wouldn’t it be great to take a break from it all…even if for just a few moments?
A personal mini zen garden is a great way to escape, be mindful, find some inner peace and generate a boost of positive vibes to help get on with your day.
What are Mini Desktop Zen Gardens?
Mini desktop zen gardens are designed to reconstruct and mimic Japanese zen rock gardens, or “dry landscape gardens,” that have carefully composed landscapes of rocks, moss, pruned bushes, and sand or gravel in swirling patterns, that represent ripples in water.
Not everyone has the area or the time to create a life-sized Zen garden, but anybody can find the space to keep a small mini zen garden on their desk at home or at work.
As miniature versions of the larger Japanese gardens, desktop-style zen gardens imbibe the same qualities of their full-sized counterparts — helping to increase mindfulness and calmness.
- The sand symbolizes water, and raking and creating swirling patterns in the sand, is believed to calm the mind and encourage a meditative state.
- Circular ripples represent water droplets falling on calm water, line patterns are caused by wind.
- Rock formations represent islands or mountains.
As you start creating your own patterns and swirls, you’ll discover a renewed sense of calm, peace and serenity, to simply relax, or get into deeper introspection.
Read on to discover what a mini zen garden is used for and why you should consider investing in one.
What is a Mini Zen Garden Used For?
Promoting Stress Relief and Relaxation
There’s something incredibly relaxing about repetitive movements. Combing the sand, arranging the stones, and creating patterns calms your senses, and empowers you to truly experience and live in the present moment — rather than contemplating the past or worrying about the future.
Your personal zen garden requires no water or sun, just you to mindfully tend to it, making maintenance stress-free. Some mini zen gardens include a Buddha statue which adds a sacred presence, contributing to peace and serenity while you work.
Encouraging Discipline and Concentration
Working with a zen garden is a therapeutic process and can help increase your concentration and focus. Quietly sitting on your desktop, it can serve as a daily gentle reminder of staying disciplined and dedicated.
As a wonderful tool for practicing mindfulness, meditation, contemplation and self-control, you’ll gain a wider perspective on life and see beyond what is right in front of you.
By practicing mindful breathing as you focus on making patterns, emptying your mind, not fighting your thoughts, and rather just letting them pass, you’ll find your mind quieting on its own.
You’ll soon notice these practices flowing into other areas of your life and enhancing your everyday health and wellbeing.
And, if you're already spiritually inclined, a mini zen garden within view, can help enhance your mindfulness practice, gently reminding you to be mindful throughout the day.
As you work on your mini zen garden, everyday will bring different patterns, methodical arrangements and creative compositions — this can help enhance your creativity and help you to practice seeing things from different points of view.
Research shows that Focused-Attention (FA) and Open-Monitoring (OM) meditation can have deep impacts on both convergent thinking (generating one solution for a particular problem) and divergent thinking (allowing many new ideas to be generated).
Placed on your desktop, your personal zen garden may help you solve a complex problem, or find a new perspective that may not have occurred to you before. It can also help you focus and filter out distracting thoughts during your creative process.
Developing a Sense of Aesthetics
A mini zen garden helps to bring beauty and a sense of serenity to your existing décor.
Japanese concepts such as Kanso (simplicity), and Fukinsei (asymmetry) demonstrate that there is beauty and aesthetics even in things that are uneven and off center, and that an imperfect circle symbolizes that imperfection is an inherent part of life.
The important concept of Yugen (hidden beauty), shows that there is balance even in asymmetry.
As you work on your garden, you will understand that these concepts of beauty can be applied to your home, your projects and your life.
How to Use Your Mini Zen Garden
Mini zen garden kits, like our LotsofZen Desktop Zen Garden Kit with Round Sandbox include a wooden tray, sand, a rake, polished stones and other ornaments such as a cherry tree and golden Buddha statue.
To work on your mini zen garden:
- Pour the sand onto the wooden tray
- Begin placing the stones and ornaments into different arrangements
- Rake the sand into ripples, zig-zags and straight lines
- Create shallow and deep lines
- Use the rocks to mimic mountains and islands
- Pile the sand into rivers and valleys
Remember, the beauty is in the asymmetry, so don’t worry about making everything look perfect or making mistakes. Just take your time, and enjoy the process. Practice mindful breathing and stay present in the beauty of the moment.
Once you feel you are finished, you can enjoy your garden or start over and create a brand-new landscape, embracing the Buddhist ideals of non-attachment and transience, and that nothing is permanent.
Take a few deep breaths and then get back to focus on what you were previously doing at work or at home — you’re now ready to face your day with come what may.