Healing Gardens for a better understanding of life
From the Egyptian culture in 1500 BC, it is believed that landscaped outdoor spaces can be spiritually and emotionally healing, and many aspects of the effect of nature on health are still under study. How to doubt the healing power of greenery, sunlight and fresh air?
But today, in institutions such as hospitals and residences, air conditioning has replaced natural ventilation, balconies and terraces have disappeared, and nature has succumbed to parking. Making these environments stressful for patients, their visits and staff.
But what is a therapeutic garden? What exactly comprises a healing garden?
It is a landscaped and delimited space, designed specifically to bring comfort and benefits, physical, psychological and social for users and visitors. Because you can see the contrast between the constructions and the natural, the difference that it is to have richer sensorial experiences, varied and organic forms substituting the lines so straight, but mostly you notice the cycle of life that nature teaches you, and you do not remember both anxiety, illness, and death. These gardens take you to a more relaxed and calm state that stimulates the immune system giving the body more opportunities to heal itself.
It is vital to understand that these gardens do not cure cancer or a broken arm, but they facilitate the reduction of stress, they provide a place for exercises of physiotherapy, horticulture-therapy, among other advantages such as the socialization of users.
They are divided into two categories:
– Restorative Garden: for stress reduction, emotional support, cognitive balance, and an increased sense of well-being. They can be universal or focus on small groups (children), or a specific stress (cancer). Subtypes: sanctuary, meditation, and ritual gardens.
– Rehabilitation Gardens: facilitate the development or maintenance of physical or cognitive skills, through interaction with plants. Secondary benefits include the improvement of social and psychological skills.
Medical facilities and residences lead the resurgence of the therapeutic garden, because they recognize the benefits both to patients and to levels of business marketing, of including views of nature and therapeutic gardens in the palliative treatment protocol. (Ulrich, 1999)
Other institutions such as prisons and schools are beginning to expand their programs to include activities in the garden, as an aid to the improvement of self-esteem and social behavior.
Many civic centers are being renovated to incorporate both; restorative gardens and rehabilitation with the intention of directing social alienation and deprivation of rights, based on studies that prove that green spaces and community gardens in urban areas reduce vandalism and violence. (Lewis, 1996)
Even religious organizations are installing restorative gardens and ritual spaces, returning to the roots and facilitating the way for spiritual healing through greater exposure to nature.
There are three different hypotheses that explain the therapeutic gardens. (Stigsdotter and Grahn, 2002)
– Nature restores emotional centers in the limbic system of the brain, evoking comforting biological responses. In this familiar and natural environment, relaxation is promoted with an outstanding positive result.
– Greenery supports cognitive functions, limiting excessive stimulation, and the need for constant attention, allowing oneself to develop its attention to itself.
– An environment with a relative highlight of plants and natural elements can restore the balance between the perception of the need to control and the ability to control, which can otherwise be very discrepant in situations of high stress and tension.
DESIGN FORESTRY OF THERAPEUTIC GARDENS
The prosperity of plants is one of the most significant factors in the perception of the healing benefits of nature. It is interesting that there is a metamorphosis of the plants in these gardens. So users can become aware of changes in the life cycle, the seasons, a watercourse. But mainly that the plants are healthy.
In addition to this, it is essential that a therapeutic garden is designed according to the level of maintenance it will receive. This applies or all therapeutic gardens, even those designed for the participation of clients/patients, routine care must be performed by professionals if you want to maintain a high level of therapeutic properties.
Beyond providing healthy plants, the JT (Therapeutic Gardens) must be designed and detailed with the intention of supporting all the emotional and cognitive changes they will receive from users.