The DIY Meditation Garden

This article accompanies How Are You?

Sunday, October 16, 2011
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With 900 acres -- only 250 of which are developed -- to work with, it seems natural that employees at Cary, N.C.-based SAS Institute would want a space outdoors to relax and enjoy the blessings of nature away from their desks.

So three years ago, just as the company was encouraging workers to explore stress-reduction options, a group of employees hit upon the idea of creating an outdoor space for such a purpose.

After the company purchased a few benches where people could relax and eat lunch, and simple paving stones to lead workers to the location, the balance of what's seen -- and heard -- in the garden is the result of employees bringing them in of their own volition.

From wind chimes in the trees to small items meant to be focused upon during meditation exercises, the area is dotted with such items.

"Our meditation garden is just a simple and lovely place," says Jennifer Mann, vice president of human resources for the company, "and it didn't require a whole lot, either.

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"The whole thing probably didn't cost us more than $100," she says.

SAS does have its own landscaping department, but the garden was designed to be maintainable with minimal upkeep.

Today, tai-chi groups are just some of the many workday users of the peaceful space, Mann says, adding that the company's meditation garden should inspire other organizations to follow suit.

"Any company can do what we've done with the stakes we've been given."

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