“Unleashing Happiness” a monthly blog by Karen Lee Stevens

Director of Wellness Programs, Karen Lee Stevens tackles topics related to mental health and the human-animal bond, along with a healthy dose of humor (because let’s face it, sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying!).

Nature Over Noise Title Page

BLOG POST #11 – Nature Over Noise

July 10, 2024

by KAREN LEE STEVENS

Close your eyes and imagine this: Soft, muted colors surround you, a calming contrast to the non-stop noise of the city. The gentle curves of a labyrinth guide your path, and you are treated to the sound of leaves rustling in the breeze and songbirds cheerfully chirping in the surrounding trees. A decorative water fountain trickles nearby, its melody harmonizing with the wind chimes tinkling overhead. Now, breathe deeply and take in the fragrant scent of lavender and lilies.

Sand Labyrinth Photo

This isn’t a dream; it’s a Quiet Garden, a haven designed for peaceful reflection amidst everyday life. These sanctuaries for the senses are becoming so popular, there’s actually a worldwide movement afoot called (appropriately enough) the Quiet Garden Movement.

Rev. Philip Roderick, who founded the Quiet Garden Movement, defies the stereotype of a typical reverend. This fellow is a theologian, educator, writer, and accomplished drummer – all with a fondness for peace and quiet. Inspired by his Welsh upbringing and a love of nature’s hush, Rev. Roderick started the Quiet Garden Movement in 1992. Its mission? To transform any garden, home, or even a bustling hospital into an oasis of reflection, relaxation, and, well, quiet. Think of it as a place where noise goes on vacation.

Garden with bench photo
I had the pleasure of stumbling upon a Quiet Garden during a recent weekend getaway to the seaside town of Cambria, California. It was here, among the plethora of pine trees, that nature was on full display as sunbeams tiptoed through the leaves, dappling the ground in a playful game of hide-and-seek. A gentle breeze sighed through the wind chimes, creating a melody so delightful it brought a smile to my face. Butterflies, with wings resembling stained glass, flitted past like confetti. A chubby bumblebee, lost in a world of pollen-dusted dreams, bumbled along, bumping into roses (and offering a sleepy apology, if bumblebees could apologize).
Garden Art Photo
Here in the garden, worries melted away faster than ice cream on a hot summer day.  I found myself giggling for no reason, except maybe because a ladybug had just landed on my nose, mistaking it for a particularly sweet sunflower. It seemed that even the resident earthworms were silently inching their way to wherever it is earthworms go to avoid causing any disruptive vibrations.

For a few precious moments, the Quiet Garden allowed me to turn down the volume of my life and sink into the stillness. As I basked in this magical sliver of serenity, I couldn’t help but wonder: What if everyone had regular access to a Quiet Garden? Would the frantic pace of our daily lives slow down? Would we treat each other with more kindness? Would we be happier and healthier? What would that world look like?

Garden Pond Photo

While I don’t have all the answers, I imagine that in a world where we spoke softly rather than shouted, where we soaked up the sunshine instead of the news, and where we connected with our children instead of scrolling through social media, the only pressure we might feel is from the urge to take a long nap amongst the lilies.

Dog smiling on the grass

Have you experienced the wonders of a Quiet Garden? Share your stories by emailing Karen at karen@therapydogssb.org.

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