Browsing Tag

serenity gardens

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‘Om’ in the Garden

January 25, 2017

Om symbol in garden – Jan Johnsen

We need to balance the pace and intensity of modern life
with periods of what poet May Sarton
has called “open time,
with no obligations except toward the inner world
and what is going on there.”

~ Thomas Moore

So how to touch the inner world in a garden?..

Abstract painting

I suggest chanting ‘OM.’ (really it is ‘AUM’), long and sustained, several times…“Om” is the oldest and most widely known one-syllable mantra or chant. It is said very, very slowly.

Mantras are believed to contain a vibrational power that can lift us to higher states.

Scientists recently discovered that rhythmic recitations of a mantra can slow breathing and regulate heart rhythms, this in turn oxygenates the blood, lowers blood pressure and induces a feeling of calmness and well-being.

The Sanskrit symbol above represents “OM”. It does not say ’30’ as some might assume.

The Om symbol (in photo above) consists of three letters, “a,” “u,” and “m,” and includes an after-sound of silence:

• The “a” (pronounced “ah,” the upper curve) represents our waking state.

• The “u” (pronounced “ooh,” the long, lower curve) is the dreaming state.

• The “m” (the curve issuing from the center) is the dreamless state of deep sleep.

The after-sound is represented by the dot at the top…

Garden Oms (smile)


Silently repeating a mantra does not produce the same effects as reciting them out loud.

You must chant OM. out loud…slowly. and remember the ‘dot’ or after-sound silence.

Lawai International Center, Kauai – shrines

If repeating ‘om’ is not your thing then try this during your ‘open time’:

Listen – to the sounds around you.

Feel – the plants or the ground under your feet or the sun on your face.

See – what is around you. enjoy the colors.

Smell – what does your environment smell like?

At first, you’ll find your mind wandering away frequently but this exercise is calming and pleasant, a relaxing break.

Blog

Make a Yoga Garden This Year

January 2, 2017

yoga garden – Johnsen Landscapes


Picture yourself being outside in a garden on a warm sunny morning. Nearby, birds are singing and flowers are blooming. This is a perfect space to unroll a yoga mat and embark on some ‘sun salutations’. So why not create a yoga garden? You can do this using some design ideas I offer in the book, ‘Heaven is a Garden – Designing Serene Outdoor Spaces for Inspiration and Reflection’ (published by St. Lynn’s Press).

Innisfree garden in NY – please visit!


Just as yoga allows us to ‘tune into’ our bodies, serene gardens help us get in touch with nature’s calming energies. Any outdoor setting, no matter the size, can become a place of quiet beauty. It should be partially sheltered, out of the wind and be bathed in gentle sunlight from east or southeast or dappled shade. I suggest you aim for ‘simplicity, sanctuary and delight’.

Bedrock Gardens – please visit!


Simplicity means clean lines such as slow curving walks or plant beds. Sanctuary refers to a a sheltered corner formed by a hedge or tree where we feel protected. And delight is anything that gladdens your heart. This can be a patch of flowers, outdoor art or a trickling water fountain.
And of course, you can utilize nature’s nurturing qualities by carefully placing a large rock or stone sculpture within your backyard. The natural ability of stone to ‘ground’ us was well known to ancient cultures and we are now rediscovering this wonderful idea.

Bedrock Gardens – please visit!


Additionally, the colors blue and green induce calm and add a feeling of restfulness to any outdoor space. You can also paint a gate deep blue or add more green textured plants to your garden. And, as I describe in my book, certain trees can add a beneficial and supportive energy to their surroundings. Lastly, we all respond to the fullness of a rounded shape such as a round finial or rounded planter.

PJM Rhodys and tulips make a Spring garden sing.


A yoga garden is a quiet place of renewal and contemplation and can be any size and in any locale. I have a small backyard where I added a curving ‘dry stream’ along one side. This stream hints at a waterway but there is no water in it. It is lined with rocks and contains decorative pebbles atop gravel. The plants that border it are the show as is the stream’s simple curved layout. I used two-thirds evergreen plants and one-third deciduous plants, which follows the ideal proportion found in Japanese gardens.
I like to use many green textures in a garden..then I add a rounded artful accent

I like to use many green textures in a garden..then I add a rounded artful accent


I firmly believe that a backyard designed to be a ‘little piece of heaven’ can remake ordinary time and space into something memorable, just as yoga does. Together, they can create some magic in your life.
P.S. Check out my upcoming book, The Spirit of Stone – and use the grounding energy of stone in your new yoga garden!