Since one of the goals of a restorative garden is to offer its visitors inspiration, I want to give more careful thought to this idea. What is inspiration, exactly? Is my idea of inspiration the same as yours? When I think of inspiration, I imagine a feeling of heightened awareness of my surroundings and a sense of clarity that then motivates me, or inspires me, to go do something positive and perhaps creative.

The word inspiration has the same origin as the word spirit. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the origin of inspire is 

“… from Latin inspirare ‘breathe or blow into’ from in- ‘into’ + spirare ‘breathe’. The word was originally used of a divine or supernatural being, in the sense ‘impart a truth or idea to someone’.”

It’s interesting that in some traditions spirit can also mean soul, that intangible part of ourselves. So, when we are inspired, it is our souls that are touched. We can think of breathing as giving life to our souls.

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When I spend time outdoors, especially in a setting that is peaceful, I feel that I can breathe more easily and let go of the mind clutter that so often takes over my day. I love that inspiration originally meant to “impart a truth”. Truth is clarity. In my meditation garden at home, I find that I can think more clearly. My breathing slows down, my mind and emotions are calmer. I have a heightened awareness of the natural sights, sounds, and smells around me. This sense of clarity leaves me feeling inspired with new ideas and renewed energy.

So now, go outside, find your restorative space, and take a deep breath. Become inspired! 


Mary Pat Peters