There is an increasing interest in the power of nature and its restorative energy, leading us to rethink the way we interact with our natural surroundings and the importance of having access to nature in our everyday life. While it is no secret that gardening is a healthy and positive hobby, health facilities across the country are finding that the health benefits extend beyond the average daily stress-relief, but is a source of therapy for the aging community and people with disabilities like autism, Alzheimer’s, cerebral palsy, PTSD, arthritis, as well as people with limited mobility, tremors and impaired motor skills.
A key to reaping the benefits of a healing garden is first to commit to this form of therapy, because while admiring the beauty of nature is part of the healing process, actually engaging in the work put into the garden is an essential component of this kind of therapy. The healing experience is such that can be enjoyed on our own private time or with the company of our friends and loved ones, not only can this provide the assistance needed for someone with limited mobility, but sharing the experience and healing as a group creates powerful bonding time with each other and nature. And while every garden can be healing, creating a sanctuary that engages all of our senses is what makes a healing garden different.
As a whole, we are becoming more aware of the dangers of excessive stress on our physical and mental well-being, and for someone battling illness, the stress of making life-altering decisions can be an overwhelming state of mind. Engaging our senses in the garden is a healthy way to distract ourselves and reconnect with nature through the sounds of nature like animals, birds, and the wind, the taste through edible fruits and vegetables, the aroma from the flowers and herbs, the feeling of earth through our hands and the beauty there is to behold.
When you create your sanctuary keep in mind all the things that bring you peace, tranquility and happiness, and find ways to incorporate these reminders into your garden. A stone for example, can be a reminder of strength and fortitude or your favorite flowers or colors, there is no right or wrong way as long as it represents those things that bring you joy and serenity. Weather you have a garden or want to start a garden consider things like privacy, some may enjoy private meditating while others may want to engage their families and children. Provide yourself a comfortable place to sit down and metabolize your day, after all, a good rest will come in handy after a day of gardening.
Further the sensory experience in your healing garden by inviting natural life with bird baths, ponds or bird feeders. In addition to beautiful sightings, the sound of natural life adds another sensory dimension to our gardens, and we can further this experience by incorporating water features and wind chimes. Use the power of color to set the mood in your garden, green is considered to have a strong association with healing, blues and cool tones are soothing and calm while warm yellows and vibrant oranges activate and energize our mood. Consider that herbs and flowers are most fragrant during the evening, so considering a lighting solution that is integrated and allows you to enjoy your garden in the evening without harsh bright lights.
Like I mentioned earlier, engaging in our healing garden is very important, and taste plays a fun role in this interaction. Being able to harvest your own fruits, vegetables, beans and herbs is the reward for a job well done and is the ultimate way we interact with nature, through nourishing food. It is said that many plants and herbs contain varying healing properties for stress, stomach pains, sleep etc. but what we harvest, create, and experience will vary from person to person. For some gardening maybe a new experience, but what is important is that we strive to reconnect with our natural form, that from which we have derailed from. It is crucial not only in the prevention of illness, but to ease and regain perspective after facing the discomfort and fear of illness. So next time we are outside, take a minute to admire the scenery, breathe in the fresh air, touch the earth textures, listen to the birds and enjoy a tasty fruit snack, but most of all remember you can help someone in need by helping them create a healing garden, introduce them to a new hobby and reconnect them physically, mentally and spiritually with nature.
“Gardens can be the perfect mirror for us. Like us, they have cycles and seasons that need to be honored. Each season has its own rhythm. All of our seasons make up a full life.” –TJ Blackman
“Nature is but another name for health…” -Henry David Thoreau