Secret Garden – Mindfulness

Part of the Secret Garden with Duddingston Loch in the background

Recently I held a Mindfulness session at one of the most beautiful and serene places in Edinburgh, and it has had such an impact on many people, that I wanted to share this with you.

Thankfully we arrived on a day where the weather was almost perfect, with a little frost underfoot, yet we were fortunate that the usual cold biting wind from the adjacent loch, was not present by late morning.

Dr. Neil’s bridge and pond

The Secret Garden is formally known as Dr. Neil’s Garden, which lies next to Duddingston Kirk, built in 1124, at the foot of Arthurs Seat, which is an ancient volcano. I have deliberately included a few hyperlinks for those interested in some history on the area.

Arthur’s Seat
Duddingston Loch

Duddingston Loch sits in amongst all this natural beauty. (The Loch hid ancient weapons which were found dating from 3000 years ago)

Many different types of trees are in abundance, and the autumn colours of the leaves adds to the magical feel of the garden.

So, as you can imagine there is a lot of spiritual activity in the area, whether that is from the natural volcanic activity of days bygone, the battles around the city or the fact that the Kirk (church) graveyard is over the wall. It is however so well hidden from view that not many people know of its existence or the history behind it.

Doctor Andrew and Nancy Neil were local General Practicioners near to the area in the 1960’s, and they encouraged their patients to spend some time in this garden next to the loch, to help in recovery from illness. Mindfulness was very much alive way back then too! Nancy was keen on growing herbs, and as such she shared some of her remedies with the patients to good effect, so we saw a mixture of traditional and alternative medicine working together for the people in the community.

The couple died in 2005 and part of the garden was named the Psychic Garden, which contains the herbal plants used by the Neil’s, and is a commeroration of the dedication to Dr. Andrew and Nancy Neil.

We as a group, spent around 2 hours there, absolutely transfixed by the peacefulness around us. A few other people were in the garden, yet it appeared as the trees hushed everyone’s voices, and all we could hear were the birds twittering, the wind in the trees and some squirrels raking through the leaves for food.

There was a feeling that we being watched over, by nature itself, and that is something that is a rare feeling, especially when you are in the boundaries of a city.

As always, I don’t take photos of anyone involved, as this is psychotherapy at work, yet I managed to take a good few photographs of the day, to help capture a snapshot of our cold November morning in the Secret Garden.

Thanks for reading


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