How Bonsais Help with Focus and Goals
We’ve reached past the halfway mark with our Office Executive series, and if you’re still with us, take a moment to smile and enjoy the journey you’ve been on with us. As a quick reminder, we spent the last episode discussing office productivity. In this chapter, we’re going to look at how bonsais help with focus and achieving goals.
It’s one thing to push as hard as you can to meet deadlines, but are you able to concentrate long enough in the midst of chaos and everyone requesting your time and energy?
Here’s a synopsis of what we’ll cover:
Here’s a synopsis of what we’ll cover:
Bonsais are Linked to Mental Health
Anyone who cares for plants or their gardens on a daily basis knows the wonderful, relaxing feeling they attain from that precious time. They share a part of nature that rejuvenates them, giving them the will and motivation to strive towards more in their lives. There’s something serene and magical to tending to flora that makes us feel at one with the world.
The Royal Horticultural Society presented an article on how plants help with mental health that we fully support in terms of bonsais. In it, they discuss how flora aids with tension, productivity, reduced blood pressure, improved moods, and pain tolerance in certain situations. While many of these relate to how well we can concentrate, there are some specific aspects we want to draw your attention to.
Bonsais are known to assist with increased attention spans. It’s not a far jump to see how this is possible. When you spend time focusing on the leaves, trunk, and branches when inspecting or pruning, you’re practicing placing your concentration on one object in that time. It aids you in improving your concentration on tasks that are important without being distracted.
Another aspect worth considering is that plants reduce headaches and fatigue in the workplace by oxygenating and cleaning the air. When you feel less tired and sore, you have a better chance of focusing on your goals. Of course, you’ll have to determine which species has the most positive effects on you.
Bonsai Care Improves Mindfulness
In our next article, we’ll discuss how bonsais help to reduce stress. However, it’s worth noting now already that this aspect assists with lowering the hormones related to tension, making you feel more at ease. In this state, you become more mindful in a professional and personal capacity, while you’ll also learn to be more patient with others.
When you’re more mindful, you build stronger relationships with clients, colleagues, friends, and family. You’ll feel more fulfilled, which is an excellent motivator for achieving your goals. You also learn how to focus on specific aspects of milestones that require your immediate and long-term attention.
So, how do bonsais help improve mindfulness besides reducing stress? Well, when you care for bonsai trees, you need to pay attention to the needs in terms of watering, feeding, pruning, sunlight, and pests. It’s the same focus that’s needed on your tasks at work on a daily basis.
To further illustrate this point, we need to look at the triangular connection with nature:
- Principle of a mind that’s focused: bonsai bringing that calm balance in a chaotic workspace;
- Hand on with nature: giving you a connection with the natural world even if you’re working in a closed environment;
- Self-assessment journey: stimulating the parts of the brain that solves problems, while providing a neutral setting where you can reflect on tasks and behavior.
Working from Home
When you work in an office environment, it’s easier to separate your professional and private life. You deal with the former at work and then the latter during breaks or when you reach your home. You’ll have goals on either side you need to attend to if you want that ideal balance in life.
The struggle is when you’re working remotely from home, which many of us have moved to in more recent years. The fine line between work and personal time is often blurred, and the one impedes on the other. It can create stress and makes it harder to concentrate on what you need to do to achieve your targets.
It’s in this aspect that owning bonsais really comes into play. When you schedule breaks to attend to your bonsais or simply to inspect them, it gives your brain time to reflect. You can break away from both worlds to just take a breather, but you’ll also find inspiration and creativity hidden in these stunning gems.
You’ll find yourself rejuvenated from the fresh oxygen, the touch of nature, and the view of beauty. When you return to your home desk, you’ll be ready to take on your tasks with renewed focus. You can’t spend all day working without this breather, as it will slow you down, and you’ll achieve less.
Indoor Bonsais to Help You Focus and Achieve Goals
You can choose from hundreds of bonsai species to care for to help you achieve that inner peace and focus. There’s no magical remedy here that works as a shortcut, and you should select bonsai trees that connect well with your personality.
Still, we have a few species we’ve chosen that you may want to consider. We personally feel that these trees have an amazing touch at making one feel more relaxed and determined at the same time. It’s also fun to work with their foliage and speak to them about our goals.
Chinese Elm (Ulmus parvifolia)
Elm trees are known for having hard, sturdy wood that can withstand most elements. When it comes to the Chinese Elm, it has extra resistance to Dutch Elm disease that tends to plaque other species in the genus. It shows just how resilient the bonsai tree is, which is an element you should take on when aiming for your goals.
The tree puts on a beautiful show with its serrated, green leaves. The branches spread out in spectacular fashion, showcasing the foliage on various tiers. It works well with the upright, broom style, especially when the flowers appear in early autumn.
Looking at the spiritual aspects, the Chinese Elm is known for strength, wisdom, intuition, calm, love, and serene energy. All of these aspects help towards generating proper focus in your work environment, specifically on a busy day.
Sacred Wood (Bursera graveolens)
Conveniently part of the torchwood family, the Sacred or Holy Wood tree is used in many cultures as incense. Also called Palo Santo in Venezuela, it’s used in rituals to purify rooms and ward off negativity. Many used extracted oils for medicinal purposes to deal with certain ailments.
The species is actually protected in parts of Peru to protect it. It has gorgeous, broad green leaves that are compound in form, while the Sacred Wood has a strong trunk. You’ll find stunning flowers on it during summer, but watch out for carpenter bees that take a fancy to the pollen.
How does the bonsai species apply to focus and attaining goals? Well, it’s known for clearing negative energy and making it more positive. While we don’t encourage burning your tree, you can light the offcuts when it’s pruning season. It will make your space feel more refreshed, but make sure not to set off your smoke alarm.
Blue Spruce (Picea pungens)
Blue Spruce is a species native in the United States, and it’s one of the trees prized during Christmas with the Norway Spruce. Many municipalities and state entities enjoy placing them in parking and open areas due to their hardiness and appearance. It can also resist frost and strong winds quite well.
The name is derived from the blue-green needles all around the trunk. The tree has a conical shape with a tapering point, which is ideal for Christmas trees in your yard. You can even dress up your small bonsai in your office to make it more festive.
The hallmark element of the Blue Spruce is resilience, but it also represents rebirth, eternal life, happiness, and peace. Resilience and happiness relate to goals and focus specifically, as you’ll need both in order to meet your targets. Every time you run your fingers through the foliage and release the sweet scent, let it be a reminder that you should strive to achieve what your mind desires.
Stone Pine (Pinus pinea)
This beautiful Pine species resides in the Mediterranean region. It has many other names, such as Italian Stone Pine, Parasol Pine, and Umbrella Pine. You’ll find them in plenty of gardens and parks in Europe, while some cultures eat the pine nuts it produces.
The conifer evergreen bonsai has a bushy globe with an umbrella canopy. Young trees have blue-green needles, while they become greener as they mature. If any part of the trunk or foliage breaks, it quickly replaces it with new growth.
For that reason, the Stone Pine is one of the species often referred to as the Tree of Eternity. It also symbolizes wisdom and peace, both of which are needed for increased focus and achieving goals. Another element is rebirth, showing you how you need to renew your concentration after a bad spell.
Blue Star Juniper (Juniperus squamata)
Also known as the Flaky or Himalayan Juniper, this tree grows well in China and the Himalayas. It’s mostly seen as a shrub instead of a large tree, but it makes an outstanding bonsai. There are at least five different varieties available.
When you place the bonsai in sunlight, the blue-green scaled needles will sparkle like stars, hence the name. If you’re lucky enough to get cones on your tree, you’ll be treated to tiny berry shapes that look splendid on the foliage. They only produce one seed per cone, while the needles are in six ranks with whorls of three.
The Blue Star Juniper is an incredibly slow-growing bonsai tree, so you’ll need to practice loads of patience. It helps with mindfulness, which is essential for improving your focus. You can spend hours staring at the needle and solving your problems mentally before heading back to your office.
Drooping Juniper (Juniperus flaccida)
We’ve selected another special tree from the Juniperus genus, the Drooping Juniper. Also known as the Weeping or Mexican Juniper, you’ll mostly find it in Mexico and Texas. It loves dry soil, so you don’t have to stress if you forget to water it.
As you can tell by the name, the needles droop down from the branches, giving it a weeping appearance. The brown bark is sturdy but has the appearance of streaky fissures. You can style it as upright as slanted while letting the drooping leaves extend over the edge of the pot.
When it comes to spiritual significance, the Drooping Juniper represents handling the weight of your tasks no matter how heavy they become. It encourages you to remain strong in achieving your goals and not letting any obstacles cause you to waver or lose focus.
Maidenhair (Ginkgo biloba)
The Maidenhair tree is among the oldest known survivors from ancient times, dating back to the Middle Jurassic. Many fossils have been found with leaves and branches etched in them from this gorgeous species, a testament to how long it’s been on this planet. Some people believe the name is from the Japanese words “gin kyo”, which means silver apricot.
Ginkgo’s grow into massive trees in the wild, stretching up into the heavens. It has a long, angular crown, which makes it a stunning bonsai showpiece. It has unique leaves that look like fans with two veins instead of a central one.
There are various symbols attached to the Maidenhair. Some of these include hope, love, longevity, strength, and peace. It’s a reminder that, no matter how long a project or task, you need to remain strong and maintain your focus for as long as possible until you achieve your goals.
Queen’s Crepe-Myrtle (Lagerstroemia speciosa)
Native to South Asia, this species has some other interesting names, such as Pride of India, Banaba Plant, and Giant Crepe Myrtle. It’s grown as an ornamental plant and is one of the more beautiful trees in the Myrtle family. The Philippine Department of Health promotes it in the country as a medicinal herb.
The flowers have six purple or white petals, which is the main attraction for having it as a bonsai at work. It has a strong trunk with a flaky bark, while the green leaves are oval in shape. It develops dense foliage in spring and summer, and you can try various styles with it, such as upright, slanting, and twin-trunk.
Queen’s Crepe-Myrtle is another bonsai tree with several meanings. The top ones include hope, youth, rebirth, prosperity, luck, and balance. While some of these will certainly aid with focus and goals, the most significant one is the delivery of promises. It will help set your mind towards reaching milestones that you said you would deliver.
Rockspray Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster horizontalis)
Another shrub that many enjoy growing as a bonsai on rocky landscapes, Rockspray Cotoneaster is part of the Rose family. It’s native in China and the United Kingdom, while it’s favored in Ireland. It even receives the Award of Golden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.
The branches and leaves spread quite wildly, which is why it’s a joy to maintain as a bonsai. The bright red berries grow in clusters, which put on a stunning show in summer if you provide it with sufficient light. The flowers are either pink or white, depending on which variation you own.
With the way the branches reach out, the Rockspray Cotoneaster is reminiscent of a network forming strong relationships. It reminds us that we sometimes need to work with other members of our team or partnerships to reach our goals.
Common Beech (Fagus sylvatica)
Also known as the European Beech, this species is known to live for more than 300 years, so you can expect a bonsai with a long lifespan if you look after it. It grows in several locations over Europe, such as Sweden, France, Turkey, Spain, England, and Portugal. While it doesn’t have many stringent requirements, it does love high humidity.
The leaves are the most outstanding featuring, being green in summer with a copper appearance in autumn. It makes a stunning formal and informal design with a strong trunk, while you can get away with slanting and exposed roots. It doesn’t usually drop its leaves, and it will stay there until spring arrives.
Some of the most prominent symbols include studying and knowledge, rebirth, strength, and renewed energy through meditation. It speaks to renewing your focus on your projects when it feels like they’re going nowhere. It also represents learning from your experiences, even if a project dies.
Tips for Re-Energizing Your Work Space with Bonsais
Now that you’ve seen our recommendations for bonsais that help with focus, it’s time to see how you can renew the energy in your workplace, whether in an office or at home. These are small tips, but you’ll be surprised how much they help. Most of us here at Bonsai Alchemist work from home, some of us on stunning farms, and these tricks really do the job.
Finding the Right Location
In many of our bonsai articles, you’ll notice we talk about location a lot. For the most part, we’re referring to places to enhance luck, to get the right amount of sunlight, and to help with humidity. While these aspects are all important, we’re going to take a different tact when it comes to improving focus.
A bonsai on your desk assists with switching your eyesight and attention elsewhere other than your computer screen. When you look at the leaves and flowers, they bring a sense of happiness, even if only for a moment. If you don’t want to leave your office, you can simply stand by your tree and give it some attention.
An even better idea for when you work from home is to have a separate area for your bonsais, whether outdoors or inside. It gives you that chance to walk around and stretch your legs, taking a mental break from the space you created for your work. You’d be surprised at the wonders it does for your mind, body, and soul.
Check the Maintenance Levels
Before you buy some bonsais, have a look at how much maintenance is required for the species and measure it against how much time you can make available in your busy schedule. Your trees are meant to be soothing, not add more stress to your life. When your work becomes chaotic, the last thing you’ll worry about is that your horde of bonsais needs urgent repotting.
As with everything, you need balance and moderation. If you’re a beginner, just start with a bonsai that’s easy to maintain. When you’re ready for more, you can add to your collection. Take it one step at a time, and remember that your trees are an escape from work and the chaos of life.
Which Aspects Attract You the Most?
Using the term ‘bonsai’ is incredibly generic. While many sites like Bonsai Alchemist will recommend species that work for us, it doesn’t mean it will work for you. You can’t just buy a small tree, place it on your desk, and expect it to make you happy.
You need to determine which aspects are you the most attracted to. Are you looking for showy flowers, or will dense, rich foliage satisfy you? How about a nice thick try, or maybe exposed roots appeal to your senses? You can even see if a rocky landscape with small figurines will help you focus more.
Perhaps you’re like us and you like bringing new life into the world? In this case, you’ll look to propagate from seeds or cuttings, or you can buy a sapling. If you want a bonsai that’s already matured and you can simply maintain with little fuss, you can buy one that’s ten years or older.
Create Bonsai Goals
Speaking of new life, you’ll want to create some bonsai goals. When you work on these, it will motivate you to focus more on your work and personal targets. Practicing and making a habit of attaining goals is incredibly helpful in making you more successful in all aspects of your life.
You can craft a list of short, medium, and long-term goals for your bonsai. For this, we’ll create a separate article. For now, here’s a quick example of what we mean:
- Short-term: watering, maintenance, and fertilizing for the season
- Medium-term: preparing for the next season (especially wintering and repotting)
- Long-term: working towards the style and design you ultimately want
See Your Bonsai as a Companion on your Journey
The most essential aspect of owning bonsais is that you need to see them as companions in your life-long journey. When people may betray you or let you down, these stunning trees will be there to listen to you. You can tend to them and care for them while you’ll working out what you’ll do next, or celebrating your successes.
Remember, many bonsai tree species can live for more than 100 years. Depending on how old they are when you acquire them, they may even outlive you. You should probably include them in your will and pass them down to someone who’ll look after them when you’re no longer in this world.
Spiritual Aspects of Bonsais That Help Boost Concentration
Before we end this article, we want to discuss some of the more spiritual aspects that may help you improve your focus. It all relates back to having excellent mental health, which is essential for concentration and achieving goals. If you feel down and depressed, it will be hard to care for anyone else, never mind a bonsai tree.
Embracing Imperfection (Wabi-Sabi)
In today’s world when it comes to tasks and projects, everyone strives to aim for perfection. However, if everything was ideal with no flaws, we wouldn’t learn anything. Mistakes you make in one project will teach you something valuable for the next one.
Wabi-Sabi is an ancient Japanese practice where you embrace imperfection and all that you learn from it. You’ll also be able to see aspects from a new perspective. When you work on your bonsai tree, notice how there isn’t always symmetry with how the branches grow, and let it remind you of this principle. Don’t let any obstacles disrupt your focus on achieving your goals.
Sometimes, it can be challenging to build a new routine, especially if you’re not used to it. Routines help us establish a sense of order and thereby increase our focus. When you have several tasks underway, a routine may help save the day.
Besides fitting in your bonsais as part of your daily routine, as well as a refreshing break, you’ll also be setting aside goals for your small tree. You’ll have seasonal practices with regards to watering, pruning, and repotting, while you should also spare some time to inspect the foliage for pests. Thanks to this behavior, you’ll learn to establish a routine in no time.
Patience and Devotion
Spending time shaping your bonsai trees during your life takes patience and devotion. You may wait several years before you see the first flowers and fruit, and that’s only if you care for them properly. It also requires daily attention, as neglect can easily kill your beautiful branches.
Your bonsai tree care will reflect in your work and goals. You’ll notice how committed you become to your projects in the same way, practicing patience with others while meeting your targets. Your colleagues and employer will also notice how attentive you’ve become, which will reflect well on your character.
One of the most essential aspects of any task is facing the challenges that come with them. Often, these can break our concentration and make us feel like giving up. If you persevere, you’ll soon find ways to overcome them and still reach your goals.
Bonsai trees teach us the same lesson. Some of the challenges you may discover include pests, dropping leaves in spring, the trunk breaking, or overwatering. If you just leave the situation as it is, you may lose the tree. However, you can bring it back to life and health by taking corrective actions and overcoming the obstacles.
The End is the Beginning
Another element that ruins our focus is living with bad habits. Many times, we have the potential to succeed, but we fall prey to our darker nature or something we’re obsessed with. If we want to grow, we need to take on healthier habits that let us grow spiritually, emotionally, and mentally.
This area is where bonsais really come into play. You can replace your bad habits with tending to your trees. It’s a soothing experience where you can spend some time resting, while you avoid turning to your crutch in life. You’ll soon find your concentration and motivation increasing.
Writing this article speaks to our hearts, as we know how incredibly tough this life can be. Like a guitar singing to my heart in the most difficult of times, bonsais have always been there when we needed them the most. If you care for your bonsai, it will care back and help you achieve your goals.