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You may have considered building your alfresco to entertain guests and to add value to your property. But whether you are aware of it or not, your alfresco also happens to be your most potent weapon against the stresses of daily living. Experts -- both scientists and mystics, alike -- have preached the benefits of meditation and relaxation for peace of mind and to overcome stress, worry, anxieties, lack of focus and other maladies of the mind. Meditation has been proven to enhance the physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual well-being of people.


The problem is that the way you are wired to respond to dangerous situations is very much the same as it was since cavemen had to deal with sabre-tooth tigers. It’s called the “fight or flight” response; your brain produces an excess of adrenaline, your heart rate, respiration and blood pressure increase, allowing you to act quickly against the threat. Unfortunately, your response to a stalking tiger is pretty much the same as how you react to a present-day anxiety, such as the accidental deletion of a file on your PC, for example.


Meditation allows you to switch off the natural “fight or flight” mechanism, slowing down your heartbeat and normalizing your blood pressure. This lets you attain a state of relaxation that allows your body to heal and restore itself. Practitioners suggest that meditation be done outdoors, amid nature, to allow you to resonate with the rest of creation. This nature grounding -- restoring your connection with the earth -- removes you from the artificial and hectic rhythms of modern living and synchronizes you back to the slower, richer cycles of nature.


While it isn’t always possible to pack up and head for the nearest secluded nature spot, your alfresco is within reach and will do just as nicely for your meditation sessions. Quiet, alone-time is all you need, but if it helps, here are some ideas for creating meditation space in your alfresco.


        • Select a spot where you have a good view of your natural surroundings. If there isn’t a suitable view, you can bring in natural elements yourself. Place potted plants around your space, or create a rock formation, perhaps.

        • You’ll find it difficult quieting down if you are not comfortable. Place a suitable cushion where you intend to sit and meditate.

        • Consider placing screens to help keep your space private and keep out noise and other distractions.

        • Experienced meditators find that they centre themselves more effectively with the help of some statuary. Statues of the Buddha are common, but you can use anything that helps you calm down and find your centre.

        • Light up some scented candles or aromatic incense to help you relax.

        • Sound can help you relax. Fountains that produce random splashing sounds and chimes may be effective for relaxing and centering.



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