Nature That Nurtures
Featured on Medium.
From the Japanese Zen garden to the Monastic cloister garden, nature has been used for healing since ancient times. Aside from medicinal plants and herbs, just physically being in nature has been shown to initiate specific healing processes in the body.
One of the primary reasons I moved my medical center away from the dissonant energy of Los Angeles and into the countryside was to make it easier for my patients to access the healing power of nature.
One way I’ve done this is by creating a healing garden that encompasses the entire front entry of my medical center.
Sitting among the decorative grasses, succulents, and inspirational sculpture, patients have an opportunity to quiet the mind and allow the intelligence of their bodies to go about their natural healing processes without the interference of mental noise.
It also provides time to reflect on personal issues and create the mental space for new realizations to come forward.
In today’s hectic world, it can be difficult to find a place where one can properly connect with nature in a healing way.
It isn’t practical to visit a botanical garden on a regular basis, and even walking out into the backyard sometimes just isn’t enough to gain the healing benefits of nature.
It helps to have a dedicated space that both the mind and body can relate to healing, and that is easily accessible on a regular basis. Healing is both a physical and mental process, and the subliminal cues the mind receives from regularly visiting a garden that’s been designed for rejuvenation can have powerful effects.
With this in mind, consider taking a corner of your backyard and transforming it into your own personal healing garden, created specifically for rejuvenation and meditation.
If you live in the city, you can accomplish the same thing by dedicating a portion of a patio or balcony for the same purpose, but with potted plants. Regardless of its location or how large or small your design may be, there are several things you’ll want to keep in mind when creating your healing garden.
Seasons: Select a variety of seasonal plants and flowers so you can enjoy the garden through the full cycle of nature’s year.
Senses: Choose plants that engage all the senses with a variety of textures, colors, fragrances, and sounds.
Texture: Add visual variety with plants of varying textures. A sensory rich garden includes plants with textures that are smooth, rough, ruffled, fuzzy, or lacey.
Color: As a visual stimulus, color is important for creating or drawing attention to focal points and accenting other areas. Warm colors like red, orange, and yellow enliven and excite the senses, while cool colors like blue, purple, and white have a calming effect. All colors can be used—just be sure to avoid clashes in a single area, as that causes visual stress.
Scent: Fragrance has a powerful healing effect on the body. Place fragrant plants and flowers along walking paths and next to seating areas to get the most enjoyment from them. Planting jasmine next to a glider, or a creeping herb like thyme between walking stones so it releases scent when it’s walked on, are good ways to add aroma. Incense burners and garden torches infused with scented oils are also good choices.
Touch: We have more nerve endings in our hands than anywhere else in the body. Choose plants that can easily be handled and provide a variety of sensations that are soft, fuzzy, springy, rough, or prickly. Geraniums with their hardy stalks and broad fuzzy leaves can be a good choice.
Taste: Many people include edible items. Don’t be afraid to include berry bushes, vegetables, herbs or even a small fruit tree.
Sound: The healing vibration of sound animates a garden like nothing else and deepens the experience. Bamboo knocks together when the wind blows, tall grasses will rustle when touched, palm fronds sway, and even seed pods will make rattling sounds. Chimes are very calming, as can be running water from a small fountain or even raindrops falling into a modest gazing pool.
Animals: Attracting animals can provide additional color and sound. Consider birdhouses, birdbaths, hummingbird feeders, and berry-producing shrubs. Planting coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea) and butterfly flowers (Aesclepias tuberosa) will encourage butterflies to visit.
Shade: Be sure to provide yourself with adequate shade by using strategically placed plants, fences, walls or even a trellis with climbing vines and flowers.
Seating: Have a dedicated bench or chair with a full back where you can sit and enjoy the beauty.
Light: Consider accenting the garden with solar-powered lights so that it can be enjoyed at night and you don’t have to worry about getting access to electricity. If electrical access isn’t a problem, think about stretching a string or two of white lights across a trellis, tree branches or tall shrubs.
Sculpture: Use sculpture that uplifts you to create focal points in the garden or use as the centerpiece for a meditation altar.
For help, consult your local landscape or gardening business to make the best choices.
For more health and inspirational insights from Dr. Sadeghi, please visit Behiveofhealing.com to sign up for the monthly newsletter, check out his annual health and well-being journal, MegaZEN, or for messages of encouragement and humor, follow him on Instagram and Twitter @drhabibsadeghi
Dr. Habib Sadeghi is the co-founder of Be Hive of Healing, an integrative health center based in Los Angeles. He provides revolutionary healing protocols in integrative, osteopathic, anthroposophical, environmental, and family medicine, as well as clinical pharmacology. He served as an attending Physician and Clinical Facilitator at UCLA-SM Medical Center and is currently a Clinical Instructor of Family Medicine at Western University of Health Sciences. Dr. Sadeghi is a regular contributor to Goop, CNN, BBC News and TEDx. He is the author of Within: A Spiritual Awakening to Love & Weight Loss, as well as the foreword to Gwyneth Paltrow’s It’s All Good, and is the publisher of the health and well-being journal, MegaZEN.