How I Use My Conservatory to Beat Stress
Every day I leave my back door and shed the worries of the day, as I stride down my lawn towards my conservatory. Let go of the memory of the rude man in the street who pushed past, the angry boss, the demands of family. Liberate my own personal space as I mime a virtual throw behind me – there goes everything that’s been holding me down, clogging up my space, all my expectations.
Deeper and deeper into the greenery and forest, which happens to be my own back garden, the journey takes me away from immediate reminders of chores, errands, obligations and expectations. Unconsciously, I begin to breathe deeper, slower, in anticipation of the peace always found here. The key is still cold in my hand when I unlock the glazed door of the conservatory and step inside.
With the door resealed, I leave the blinds closed and begin the advanced parton chin, which pre-empts many tai chi sessions. The eight-fold set is fast, simple, subtle, achievable and satisfying. When performed mindfully, it is a direct route to a clean mind. First time through and I’m aware of my breathing. My muscles take over, remembering the moves without conscious prompting. I am right here, right now, moving mindfully as I was taught. Centered and focused after the third run I decide to sit.
One sunny summer day I happened upon a small shop, dripping with bright fabrics and antique furniture. I purchased a zazen stool, just right for meditative sitting. On my stool, I ground and clear my studio. I bring back my awareness and hear the birds singing, the hum of distant traffic, the burr of a lawnmower. I hear a tiny scratching, like an insect on the deck. My thoughts finally still and I can just be.
Being present and mindful, throughout the day, takes much practise. It’s easiest without distraction, which is why I value my garden studio so much. It is a major tool for stress management and encourages a healthier, more well-balanced experience. My heart rate calms, my blood pressure stabilises to a healthy systole/diastole balance. I can feel my heart beat. Count time for my inhalations and exhalations.
After a time, I am refreshed as if after a sound night’s sleep. Not only refreshed but happy, my real true self, focused, determined and open for business! Having a room of my own, tucked away in the wilds of my garden conservatory, has been a sanity-saver in a manic world.