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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