Spiritual and emotional health are a huge part of succeeding in business and in life in general. Much has been written about the potential benefits of incorporating specifically designated meditative environments, or mental health rooms, into the landscaping surrounding commercial office buildings or in the common areas throughout multi-family communities. There is growing evidence to suggest that exposure to and use of these natural environments can be associated with mental health benefits that include lower levels of tension, increased potential for attention restoration, and reduced anxiety. Additional evidence suggests that interacting with nature can improve cognition for children with attention deficits and helps individuals coping with depression.
Meditation in the workplace can help lower a company’s health-care costs by reducing chronic stress, a major risk factor for illness. A company can improve employee morale, mental focus and sense of well-being. This can reduce the number of sick days and workplace injuries while increasing productivity. Offering a natural space for employees to meditate, relax, reflect, unwind, ponder new ideas, or even just think, helps companies empower employees to manage their own stress and well-being. By providing a space for these practices, the company sends a message that the well-being of its workforce is a priority, which enhances its image; aiding in the recruitment and retention of high quality talent.
By offering natural outdoor meditative rooms, a residential multi-family community can improve their marketing appeal and increase their property values, separating their association from their competition. These separated spaces are designed to encourage restorative reflection in which a person or family can escape from the stressful demands of daily life. Potential owners and tenants will see a benefit from having access to calm and peaceful spaces in which they can get away from the pressure of the office or home environment; to recharge and refocus.
Today’s modern work force and residential communities include people with a wide diversity of beliefs, cultures, and traditions so it is important to consider whether your outdoor “mental health” space should be tied to a specific religion or culture. Meditation spaces can be constructed to replicate a specific cultural model or they can incorporate and combine various aspects of any number of ancient or modern cultural derivations. While they can reflect many different themes, they usually include the use of plant selections and hard elements of varying colors, textures, and aromas. Zen gardens use rock formations, statuary, koi ponds, and sand/gravel arrangements, or sometimes with no growing plants or water features at all. Planted labyrinths or mazes are meditative tools serving as a metaphor for the inner maze that leads to the authentic self. The ancient Asian philosophical practices of Feng Shui are often incorporated into the arrangement of plants, rocks, water features, benches, etc. to promote the harmony between individuals and the surrounding environment.
Whatever thematic elements you decide upon, the space needs to create a sense of separation from the rest of the landscape. The meditative room doesn’t have to provide actual privacy so much as to feel secluded; distinctly apart to provide that feeling of “getting away”. A different surface can accomplish that, or some form of a structural enclosure. Running water can separate a space and its sound is a soothing way to cover up traffic or background noise. Understated plantings around surface changes can be designed and positioned in a way to lead the visitor to a sense of arrival that psychologically isolates without necessarily creating a distinct physical separation. A well thought out combination of these elements can often provide the most effective and enduring results.
If you like the idea of incorporating outdoor meditative spaces into the landscaping around your building or in your community, or if you simply want to start with re-creating a calming view from a conference room or lunchroom window, give ILT a call today. You can start with a simple conversation to discuss the concept and its possibilities. One of our experienced landscape architects will work with you through every phase of your project, from its conception to the design and construction of your meditation space, to the sound maintenance practices and periodic updating that will keep your space current, relevant, and attractive to your employees, tenants, residents, and visitors.
Call or email ILT today and let’s get you thinking about thinking!