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Mindfulness is the latest buzzword in psychology and self-help books. “Basically it’s a state of awareness where one is fully attentive to the present moment and it can be practised through meditation,” psychologist Sarah Edelman says.

Enter Japanese gardens: with their tranquil, meditative feel, they are the perfect fit for this centuries-old Buddhist tradition. And the good news for space-challenged urbanites is that they work well in confined areas such as courtyards or balconies.

Eastern suburbs resident Jennifer Markham was keen to transform her sloping 25-metre by four-metre front lawn, so she consulted oriental garden specialist, Ken Lamb, from Imperial Gardens in Belrose.

“The basis of classic Japanese gardens is to represent a miniaturised panoramic landscape that depicts a journey from the mountains to the sea,” Lamb explains.

All the elements such as layered evergreen and deciduous plantings, craggy rocks, fish ponds, bamboo spouts and raked gravel, contribute to the picture.

For Markham, Lamb designed granite steps flanked by two temple lions as a lead-in. “The garden doesn’t present as one complete vista. A lot is hidden; you have to stroll into it to see what most of it is about,” he says.

Water is an important component in any Japanese garden so there is a pond complete with a trickling waterfall that adds movement and sound. The pond represents a lake and the large rocks behind it suggest a mountain range.

A curved granite bridge crosses over a pathway of crushed white quartz which symbolises a dry riverbed. The granite stepping stones that run along the edge of the path make this a wonderful place for a walking meditation.

While a garden such as Markham’s is idyllic, it is possible to create a meditation area indoors. Artist Anna Dudek converted a small, former office into a “sacred space for taking time out”. Two chairs with plump cushions, a vase of fresh flowers and a Buddha artwork induce calm.

You can follow her lead even in the corner of a room. Keep the area free from electronic devices and add incense, candles, a silk scroll with inspirational sayings or a Buddha statue (Hidden Orient sells bronze, timber or granite Buddhas). Whether inside or out, DIY or custom-made, it is possible to create a Zen zone that is perfect for mindful matters.

Story by Judy Barouch, story source:

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