For many, the word ‘zen’ refers to feelings of relaxation and peacefulness but in actuality, Zen is a Japanese school of Mahayana Buddhism that practices meditation. Meditation is an exercise used to focus the mind on a particular object, activity or thought. This mindfulness training is a long process that Buddhists will perform regularly in order to achieve a clear mental and emotional state.
The link between the slang use of ‘zen’ and actual meaning of it is quite different, as the slang is a passive feeling, whereas the real definition is to take part in an activity that works to transform the mind into a deep concentration.
What are zen gardens?Also known as Japanese rock gardens, zen gardens are carefully crafted to symbolise mountains and islands, and the gravel is raked to mimic the flow of water. You will also typically find moss, bamboo and colourful trees in a zen garden. Although a very simple construction, a zen garden is extremely well maintained and is perfectly controlled with regular pruning, weeding, sweeping, raking, etc.
Zen garden design ideasSand, gravel and large stones/rocks will provide you with the basics needed to sculpt your very own zen garden. Switch out your grass for sand or gravel and place large rocks in a satisfying pattern. Large vertical stones are supposed to represent trees and flattish, wide stones are supposed to signify water, so you may wish to utilise them with this in mind. Remember to embellish your garden with lush flowering trees, shrubs and bamboo for the finishing touches, but do not plant too many as you want to be able to maintain them and prune them on a regular basis.