Mother Nature’s Spring Miracle
I love spring! It’s the most exciting time of the year for me. And even though we had a very mild winter this year, I’m very excited. Not only due to the warm weather, and the return of gorgeous greenery that surrounds my home and neighborhood-I get to do something very special plant my garden.
While writing SuperHealing, I discovered creating gardens as places for restoration of good health and wellness has been observed throughout history, from ancient times up through the present. Current research from a variety of academic disciplines reveals that contact with nature provides stress reduction, which in turn leads to improved health outcomes.
During my years in medical school, I frequently escaped to the beautiful gardens that were adjacent to the hospital. I’d spend my lunch break there, and would literally feel the stress dissolve.
My parents were farmers and after moving to the north, were annual gardeners of flowers, fruits and vegetables. My dad and uncle eventually bought a plot of land and grew enough food to share with our church’s soup kitchen.
So it comes as no surprise that I carry on their tradition, and every year grow more and more vegetables and herbs on my deck. We tried a regular garden, but have a lot of animal neighbors who leave very little behind.
There is truly something very remarkable about planting seeds, nurturing them, and watching them grow-it’s truly magical. .
I’m planning to plant my garden in a few days, and this year I’m going to grow medicinal and cooking herbs.
They’re very easy to grow, especially in containers. And some will live through the winter, if given the proper nutrients and sufficient sunshine.
As I write, I’m looking at my Thai Basil and sage plants that survived. Unfortunately my rosemary and lemon balm didn’t make it.
The Restorative Power of Nature
Beyond gardening, nature in all of its wonder is quite spectacular and affects us in a variety of positive ways, some of which are easily measured and some of which are not measurable but are meaningful and important nonetheless.
Our exposure to a variety of colors, plants, mountains, forests, and seas, with their soothing sounds and fragrant odors, as well as the energy of different places, restores our sense of health and well-being. A 2010 study discovered that spending just twenty minutes outdoors in nature gave people a greater sense of well-being and vitality, beyond what is caused merely by having engaged in physical activity or enjoyable social interactions. Wilderness excursion participants reported that just remembering their outdoor experiences enhanced their health and happiness.
Exposure to natural landscapes stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, triggering the relaxation response and the release of endorphins. This reduces the stress hormones circulating in our bodies, lowers blood pressure, and helps to relieve anxiety, anger, aggression, and depression. The opportunity to see nature, even through a window, accelerates recovery after surgery, shortening postoperative hospital stays. Other studies have determined that prison rooms with a view of a natural landscape were beneficial to the health of prisoners.
When we’re in natural settings, we are known to recover more quickly from stress. Researchers at the University of Michigan and Sweden’s Uppsala University have found that mental fatigue is relieved by nature experiences. Nature creates a sense of wonder and fascination that counterbalances the effects of too much focused attention, such as that required to use electronic devices like computers and smartphones.
After an hour of taxing mental work, a walk through a park is more mentally and emotionally restorative than a walk through a city, reading a magazine or a book, or listening to music. The restorative effects of walking And it I fantastic for your health and well-being.
Next week I will share with you the medicinal seeds I’ve planted. Our relationship to it is
I’ve often heard people describe mountains as cathedrals and use other religious metaphors to describe the spiritual awe they feel in the presence of a majestic canyon or a waterfall. These comparisons are appropriate. Nature’s wondrous design uplifts mind, body, and spirit. It causes our emotions to soar when we come in contact with it.
Although we know intuitively that being in touch with nature is healthy because it feels good and refreshing to be outdoors, now there’s a convincing and growing body of research confirming that it contributes to mental health and psychological development. Nature benefits us by improving self-confidence and self-discipline, deepening our sense of community and belonging, and strengthening our sense of internal coherence.
We may have forgotten it, but our most distant ancestors knew they were connected to and part of the landscape. Since the human race evolved in the midst of nature, it is only logical that being in its presence is one of the fastest ways to align mind, body, and spirit and open our channels of superhealing. It helps us to remember. Like nothing else, experiencing nature consciously connects us to the magnificence of our true essence, our spirit. By engaging our sense of wonder, it leads us to feel appreciation for something greater than ourselves. It teaches us that although we are individuals, we are connected to a larger whole—to all of life. Its grandeur reminds us that there is something beyond what we, as human beings, could create, something timeless and unbound by the constraints of human intervention and involvement.
In addition, nature improves our social relationships and our perceptions of other people. University of Rochester researchers found that after viewing scenes of nature, people were kinder and more compassionate and giving, as demonstrated by their willingness to donate money to a charity. The exposure also caused them to feel heightened concern about social outcomes and closer to members of their community. The researchers concluded that exposure to nature helps us get in touch with our basic values.
Dwelling in nature can lead to more opportunities for physical activity, which keeps us fit and offers us relief from the demands of our daily lives. More than 100 studies show that stress is decreased by participation in outdoor recreation.
To activate your innate superhealing capabilities, it is imperative for you to design your lifestyle in such a way that you may take full advantage of the benefits of nature. Exposure to the natural environment is one of the most underutilized but powerful pathways to optimal health. Even if you live in an urban setting, it is important to be in contact with nature as much as possible. Add natural elements to your home, such as indoor plants, and allow fresh air and natural sunlight to come in through the windows. Make a point of visiting parks and recreational areas.
Next week, I share with you what’s in my garden and a few great websites to help you create your very own.
Restorative Garden Design: Enhancing wellness through healing spaces