We invite you to visit our meditation garden, located at the back of the parking lot.
The meditation garden includes many native plants: cardinal flower, Florida dogwood, Joe Pye weed, mayapple, native ferns, obedient plant, sweet bay magnolia, Virginia bluebells, white trillium, wild geranium and woodland phlox.
Electricity and a water feature, which continually flows, was installed through a BSA Eagle Scout project.
The garden is used for memorial services, pet blessings, weddings, the medicine wheel and solstice observations. It is a peaceful, natural place to reduce mental and physical stress.
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Forest bathing is a sensory practice where you “bathe” your senses with natural stimulation from the forest or other nature setting. . . .
The idea of shinrin-yoku originated in Japan in 1982. The term arose from the Japanese Forest Agency as a way to attract more visitors to Japanese forests. . . .
People forest bathe to lower stress and reconnect with nature. The practice offers several health benefits and has gained popularity as a form of therapy after several studies proved the efficacy of shinrin-yoku. . . .
Forest bathing is designed to invoke almost every sense: aromatherapy from the plants; the forest sounds of trees rustling, birds chirping, or water rushing; visual stimulation from the flora and fauna; and tactile sensations of the soft soil under your feet or the leaves in your hand. Combined, these experiences work to deliver a stress-reducing therapy that improves physical health as well as psychological well-being.
Christine Valters Paintner describes the ancient and accessible contemplative practice of walking or moving slowly through the natural world as a way of connecting with God. . . .
In [the contemplative] path we cultivate intimacy with Earth and her creatures, and we allow ourselves to fall in love with nature. It is one of my deepest beliefs that we will not be able to address the environmental crisis we currently face without this intimacy, without learning how to cherish nature, without love. . . .
There is something about getting our bodies out into the world, in close contact with trees, bushes, flowers, squirrels, pigeons, and crows, that can invigorate us and offer us new perspective on life. In the book of Jeremiah, God asks, “Do I not fill heaven and earth?” (Jeremiah 23:24). These walks are times to really experience that truth. . . .
It is walking to immerse ourselves in an encounter with whatever is calling us in the moment:
- As you begin a contemplative walk, allow a few moments simply to breathe and connect to your heart.
- Set an intention for this time to be as present as you can to what is happening both within and without.
- Begin walking, but see if you can release any expectations or destination.
- As you walk, imagine that with each step your feet are both blessing the ground and being blessed by it. Let your breath be long and slow. . . .
- Listen for the sounds of life around you. Even if you are walking through a city, pay attention to the rustle of the breeze, the caw of crows, or any subtle elements of creation singing their song.
- Pause regularly simply to receive this gift. Breathe it in. Let it have some space in your heart. Then continue on until something else causes you to stop.
This is the whole of the practice: simply moving, listening, and pausing. We practice presence so that we might cultivate our ability to really hear the voice of nature speaking to us. This sounds simple, and yet we so rarely make the time to develop this skill.
Meditation Garden History
In February 2005, Rick and Anita Hartley moved to a new home and donated their garden plants to Unity of Fairfax.
Little did they know that two weeks earlier, the Prayer Ministry was inspired to pray for a meditation garden to be established on Unity’s five sacred acres. Pete Clifford and Rick Hartley, Earthcare ministry leaders, worked side by side for three months to create the half-acre Heart Haven Meditation Garden.