Monday, September 5, 2016

The Healing Art of Nature

Nature Bound, small collage by Donna Watson

Recently, some Japanese researchers set out to discover whether something special... and clinically therapeutic... happens when people spend time in nature.  In the early 1980"s the Forest Agency of Japan advised people to take a stroll in the woods for better health.  This practice was called forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku... and it was believed to lower stress.  Since then, a large body of evidence has shown that spending time in nature causes beneficial changes in the body.

I live on a cliff over looking a large body of water... and there are wooded trails around my home that lead down to the beach down below.  I also have created beautiful Japanese gardens that surround my home.

Studies have found that the quiet atmosphere, beautiful scenery, good smells and fresh, clean air in forests all contribute to lower stress, lower anxiety, and help symptoms like depression, heart disease and even cancer.

This is part of my moss garden...  there is a circular path around this moss garden where one can walk and meditate.  Plants and trees release compounds that protect them from pests; when humans inhale those compounds, it promotes healthy -- and measurable-- biological changes.

When I walk through my woods around my home, I love to forage and collect moss covered sticks,
fallen leaves, weathered wood, lichen...  and take to my greenhouse (Zen House).  This is where I also keep my fossil collection, rock collection, driftwood collection, bird nest collection....  and small bonsai collection.
Inside my Zen House

This is where I keep my moss covered sticks with a small bird's nest and ferns.  Research has shown that bringing bits of nature inside can also be very beneficial... even a plant in your room or just looking at trees through a window.

Here are some ferns with my crystal rock collection.

I planted bee balm in my herb garden this year, not realizing I would get these beautiful flowers.
Jizo, the protector of women, children and travelers

"The way we see the world shapes the way we treat it.  If a mountain is a deity, not a pile of ore; if a river is one of the veins of the land, not potential irrigation water; if a forest is a sacred grove, not timber; if other species are our biological kin, not resources; or if the planet is our mother, not an opportunity -- then we will treat each one with greater respect.  That is the challenge, to look at the world from a different perspective."  David Suzuki