Arboretum News

Creating Sanctuary in Nature

Find a small personal space just for you.

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Creating nature mandalas provides author Jean Larson with a peaceful, creative way to connect with nature. Photo by Jean Larson.

By Jean Larson, manager of the Nature-Based Therapeutic Services Program at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

We all need a personal sanctuary. A place where we can be in harmony with the natural world to nurture our bodies, minds and souls. A personal sanctuary does not need to be far away or complicated. It can simply be a designated spot you can call your own.

My personal sanctuary is a bench facing west towards a bird feeding station at my home. Here I can look out as the sun is setting, appreciate my interconnection to the web of life and find a deeper relationship to nature.

Here I sometimes enhance the space with art, using gifts of the earth such as leaves, berries, feathers and stone. I organize these found bits and pieces into mandalas. I never know how they will turn out because the objects I’m using are never quite the same. Creating the mandalas provides me a peaceful and creative way to express my gratitude for nature, practice mindfulness and add meaning to my daily life. Designing the mandalas allows me to find beauty in what is dying and falling around me. 

My personal sanctuary allows me a chance to be quiet, creative and the opportunity to let go. To paraphrase the words of Mary Oliver – Tell me, what is it you plan to create in your one wild and precious nature sanctuary?

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