An artist shares her experiences on creatively developing, tending to and nurturing her garden as spiritual sanctuary for herself, her friends and family. Gail Allen contributes her thoughts on creating a sacred space as an oasis for soothing your soul in today's busy world, enticing your senses and and fostering your own personal growth

Monday, June 6, 2011

June...A Little Breathing Time In the Garden

Around here, June is a great month in the garden. 
This is when it shows its glory, beauty and abundance; weeds and fungus have not taken over yet and usually there is enough rain for the lush greenery to make you feel like you live in a tropical area.(At least in this area.) Thus, June is a time for relaxing, breathing and enjoying the outcome of all your hard work from the previous year - cultivating the fruits your soul has to offer and bringing them inside to savor in your home. It is a time of  taking a retrospective assessment of what you love and any possible changes you may want to make in your gardens for next year.  

I awake, thinking of taking a soulful daily stroll through the gardens as the dogwoods, iris, peonies, roses, clematis and even some late blooming poppies burst into bloom.  For me, although I have some breathing time from the gardening chores, it is a time to quickly set up my easel and do some daily sketches or plein air paintings of the gardens and take the photos of flowers which will sustain my studio work, through the long winter months in this area.  Every few minutes it seems, I am reminded to take a deep breath, smelling the last of the  sweet woodruff scent as it mixes with the rose perfume wafting on the light wind.  I step away from my painting,  and  feel a new burst of creativity as my soul is rejuvenated. That is what deep breathing can do for us all. Soulfulness is taking the time to notice everything around you. It is keeping all of your senses aware of the beauty in everything you encounter. 

Breath work is great for the soul....if you are doing it right. These days, so many of us are struggling just to make it through today and on to the next. The evening news can cause enough stress to make you hyperventilate, if you let it. Enter the garden...a place for quiet contemplation and relaxation, breathing space. Just a few highly scented plants, like jasmine or heliatrope, (a vanilla - cinnamon - fruit scent, noticeable in early morning and evening) in planters on a porch or balcony, can send intoxicating smells to apartments next door. 

Years ago I had read a great book by author Nancy Zi.   In it Nancy writes, 
is our most important act -- 
we do it every moment of our lives, some 20,000 times each day.  Breathing incorrectly can produce tension, exhaustion and vocal strain, and can interfere with athletic activity and encourage aches and illnesses. Breathing correctly, however, nourishes every fiber of our body and soul. Breathe correctly and you can melt away tension and stress, improve energy or simply relax and unwind." 
Her book: The Art of Breathing  may be found at: .  

During June, try to learn some of Nancy's Zi's techniques, or just practice slow, deep breathing and sensing all that is around you. Take a moment, each day, (even if only once a day), to stop and do some deep breathing outdoors - shutting out every other intrusion in your life. Listen, smell, feel the wind, stop and look for a new sight you have overlooked in your daily travels. It will change your life in one week. The second week, practice again daily, as you stroll through a garden -  you will see things in a new light.  If you are not near a garden, purchase some highly scented flowers place them in a relaxing spot in your home and practice the art of breathing near them.

Take advantage of June's gift to relax and is a step toward cultivating  and enhancing your soulful life.  


Yellow Rhododendron
Pinwheel Mountain Laurel buds with Colorado Blue Spruce and  Pineapple Mint variegated groundcover
The entrance
Honeysuckle vine about to burst into bloom
A perennial succulent planter
Otto ... The art of breathing.

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