Desperately Seeking Serenity? Look no Further Than Your Backyard

Have you ever noticed how a walk in a beautiful park lifts your spirits?

Or, how an afternoon hike along a wooded trail clears your head? Do you sometimes feel that if you don’t get out of the city and see some green you just might loose your mind?

That’s how I start to feel around this time of year, especially after a long and snowy winter. I’m ready to feel the warm breezes, hear the chirping of birds at the feeder, and to smell the perfume of  hyacinths from my garden. I cannot wait to bathe my eyes in scads of green; new leaves opening on the trees, shrubbery coming back to life again, and tender blades of new grass.

Just thinking of sitting on the deck in the midst of my little garden of Eden in the morning on  a Spring day with the newspaper spread out and a cup of steaming coffee brings me to a tranquil state of mind. I instantly feel calmer and the tension leaves my body.

Greenery helps us relax

There are actually studies which show that spending time in nature is beneficial to  overall health. Looking at natural landscapes has been proven to lower blood pressure, stress levels, reduce recurrence of headaches and illnesses, increase recovery time from operations and even increase job satisfaction. One study showed that employees who worked on landscaped campuses, or had lovely scenery to look at from their workplaces rated their job satisfaction higher than those individuals not able to access natural landscapes. Some studies even say that the restorative powers of nature can be garnered by just looking at beautiful nature scenes in photographs or paintings. I know that this holds true for me. I would simply die if I had to live in a place where I couldn’t see anything green.

The sounds of nature are soothing

One of my favorite things about Spring is meditating outdoors in the early morning. It’s so quiet. No cars on the road to disturb me, or trucks grinding their gears as they climb the steep hill near my home. It’s absolute heaven – just pure peace at that hour. I’m able meditate very deeply when I’m outdoors. Sitting or walking in a beautiful natural environment where you hear only the  birds chirping  and leaves rustling free of noise pollution is really restorative. It’s a chance to clear your mind and let nature inspire you.

Make your backyard a sanctuary

You can benefit from the tranquility of being in nature anytime. You don’t have to drive all the way to a botanical garden or to the country to walk along a rural road, although it’s nice to do once in a while. All it takes is a small patch of green that can be viewed from a porch, or balcony to feel the calming power of nature. When I lived in a condominium building I had a small deck that faced a thicket of woods. Sitting out there and looking at “my trees” always soothed my soul. Apartment dwellers need only buy a few pots of flowers or hanging baskets to benefit from nature.

Even if you have a very small backyard there are inexpensive and simple ways to enhance its natural beauty. A few colorful plantings, a birdbath, a bird feeder and some wind chimes go a long way to creating a soothing environment. Of course, if you’re ambitious and have a green thumb you can create your own exquisite ornamental garden to rival any park.

If you’re looking for guidance on how to do this I suggest visiting this wonderful site: Serenity In The Garden for ideas and expert advice to creating your sanctuary.  Just looking at the photos on this site, taken by master horticulturist Jan Johnson, inspire me to want to do more to beautify my backyard.

Spring is a great time to renew and reassess goals

Here are three tips to free your mind of every day chatter in order to check in with yourself:

1. Create your own little garden of Eden with a few fresh plantings and perhaps an inexpensive water feature.

2. Take a walk around your neighborhood to get a glimpse of the crocuses, daffodils and tulips now beginning to grace lawns everywhere.

3. Make a date with yourself to get up early and meditate outdoors in the still of the morning. Don’t forget your journal to write down all the inspiring ideas you’ll get.

How was your experience? Did you feel your pulse slowing down as you sat outside and meditated? What insights came to you?


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12 Responses to “Desperately Seeking Serenity? Look no Further Than Your Backyard”

  1. Rosemarie says:

    Sage advice, indeed. It seems we are always in a hurry, never stopping to “smell the roses.” I for one can attest to the power of nature to spur creativity and lift my spirits. Recently, I had to be reminded that right in my own front yard is a miracle of beauty. A friend came to my house for the first time. When she got out of her car she stopped and said “why would you ever want to live anywhere else?” At first I didn’t even realize what she was talking about. She was referring to my beautiful view. How could I have been so wrapped up in my routine and driven by stress to stop noticing the beauty around me.
    Now everyday I say thank you for this beauty. It helps me think clearly and find inspiration.

  2. Baker says:

    Hello. It is interesting, it really does begin with how we percieve things. You mention the backyard as a great place we often forget to take some time out and enjoy, but once we percieve that it is so, it then becomes that for us. This is a nice reminder!

  3. angelaa says:

    @Rosemarie
    Rosemarie, You’re so right about all of us being so busy we don’t even take advantage of the beauty at hand. I’m guilty of the same thing. Many days I work from home, which doesn’t necessarily mean I have less stress, and find that at the end of the day I never once stepped foot outdoors, even though I could have. One of the reasons I wrote the post was to remind myself that nature is one of the best remedies for stress!

  4. angelaa says:

    @Baker
    Baker, you’re exactly correct. I was replying to Rosemarie’s comment that one of the reasons I wrote the post was to remind myself to take more frequent breaks outside when I have the luxury of working from home. I’m glad you found this to a good reminder for yourself.

  5. Nikki says:

    Nouna,

    Green really is a relaxing color! It has been scientifically proven- that’s why many doctor’s waiting rooms, or patients rooms will be painted green.

    Who knew this better than our transcendentalist poets? I recommend “Self-Reliance” By Ralph Waldo Emerson. In this essay he really seems to explore the ideas of nature, God, and trusting one’s self. People do need to “stop and smell the roses” more often to get some relief from this high-pressure, over-stressed society in which we are living. A little less than 200 years ago, Emerson believed very similarly to you, Nouna!

    “But man postpones or remembers; he does not live in the present, but with reverted eye laments the past, or, heedless of the riches that surround him, stands on tiptoe to foresee the future. He cannot be happy and strong until he too lives with nature in the present, above time.”

    He is one of my favorite American poets/writers. May this summer I’ll sit outside and read more of his work!

    “To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men—that is genius.’’

  6. Every summer, our backyard becomes an extra room, we spend so much time out there. I love being able to walk out my door to greenery and flowers, it really inspires me. I could never live in a high-rise apartment!

  7. angelaa says:

    Charlotte, I agree with you. I could never lived in a high-rise either. A few years before I bought my house I was looking at co-ops with NYC views. I thought the view would inspire me, but the moment I stepped off the elevator into the dark corridor – I knew I would never be happy walking those dark hallways.

  8. angelaa says:

    Nikki, you’re right about the doctor/patient rooms being green. I never even thought of that. My bedroom is painted green and I love it! Emerson is one of my favorites too. He was an enlightened soul for sure.

  9. Manal says:

    I agree with my fellow readers. This is a great reminder to stop and enjoy the beauty of our own backyards.

    Thanks so much for the link to Serenity in the Garden. A couple of weeks ago I decided to do some changes in my backyard. This site is great for inspiration.

  10. angelaa says:

    Hi Manal, Thank you so much for stopping in. It’s been raining here in the NY area for days, so we’re all stuck indoors and antsy to get outside. Jan Johnson does such a wonderful job on her site Serenity in the Garden. Her site actually inspired me to write the post.

  11. Hi Angela,

    Your lovely words evoke such peace and serenity — I feel calmer from just reading this encouraging post!

  12. angelaa says:

    Hi Christiana, Welcome to my blog – so nice to see you here. I’m glad the article on meditation in nature made you feel calm – it’s done its job! Sometimes all I have to do is look at a photo, like the one in that post, or out my window at the trees in my yard and I feel calmer myself. Thank you again for your comment.