As someone who has struggled with depression for the majority of my short twenty-two years, it has proven to be extremely difficult to exist in the present moment that is now. When I was in the garden, I was doing only what I could do in that moment, which may have been to pick up leaves, weeds, or anything else that disrupted the aesthetic or energy of the garden. I couldn’t work on any school work that I was worried about, and I couldn’t do anything about any stressful social situations. The only thing I could do was relax and try to enjoy the moment. As I spent more hours there, it began to serve as a critical reminder for me to take a step back, breathe, and express gratitude towards the present. The UMW Zen Garden served this purpose for me as well as many other students and has been an extremely beneficial addition to our campus.

Kathryn Heislup is a former University of Mary Washington student. She graduated in 2020.