/* v1.0 | 20080212 */

Creating a healing garden

By Liz Koch - Special to the Sentinel

Posted: 04/10/2010 01:30:43 AM PDT

Why is one garden more inspiring than another?

It is not just how many flats of posies one buys that touches our hearts. Rather, it is a felt sense that can inspire and literally transform the way we feel. It is this magical quality that defines a "healing" garden.

Healing gardens have existed throughout human history as intentional spaces where the magic of healing is evoked. Sometimes called restorative gardens, they are apart of an ancient healing tradition found in almost every culture and time.

Creating intentional healing gardens, where you can touch the earth, hear the bees humming, bird singing and water flowing, and feel the sun's warmth and the softness of air, is part of our Western history and is integral to the infirmaries that were often located within monastic communities.

"Many hospitals have reintroduce healing gardens," says local master gardener and energy healer Patty Dunks, "because these gardens have the incredible potential for supporting and speeding up the healing process."

Speaking for the Way of Life health lecture series April 20, Dunks attributes the ability for a garden to provide a "field of healing" to a variety of qualities, including the flow of energy, or what is commonly known as feng shui; the balancing of the five essential elements of earth, air, fire, water and sky, which is literally the composition of the garden's ecosystem; and the personal resonance with individual plants.

"Each person resonates with different plants" says Dunks, "so it is important when creating a personal healing garden to include the plants that you feel a particular kinship with."

To gain a sensitivity to plants, author Stephen Harrod Buhner, in his book "The Secret Teachings Of Plants: The Intelligence Of The Heart In The Direct Perception Of Nature," leads the reader through a series of mental, emotional and sensory explorations meant to help recognize how limited and cut off we are in the modern world to varied modes perception.

These subtle modes of perception, although not easily tangible, are called biognosis, which means direct "knowledge from life," Buhner writes.

Our relationship with plants, Buhner suggests, goes far beyond our dependency on using them for food and medicine: there is a vibrational relationship to the plant kingdom inherent in our physical bodies. Buhner urges us to come to our senses and develop our heartfelt perception as a means of communing directly with the plant world.

Learning directly from plants is an ancient indigenous way of learning, Buhner says. This learning relied neither on the analytical capacity of the brain nor the techniques of trial and error, he says, but happened because our ancestors received information directly through the "heart of the world."

In other words, we can receive directly from and be informed by the plants themselves.

"The plants can speak to human beings" says Buhner, "only if human beings will listen and respond to them in the proper state of mind." This "state of mind" is currently recognized in research as electrical i.e. vibrational or neurological coherency. Research shows that simply viewing nature provides benefits to our health.

"Being in a healing garden lowers our blood pressure, our pulse rate, our respiratory rate, and slows our body's output of the stress hormone cortisol," Dunks says.

Just being in a garden is a step toward health. Embarking upon growing a healing garden can not only create beauty and a delightful space for family and friends to gather, but it can also provide the perfect conditions for fostering vitality and good health.