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The Garden As Healer

The word for 'paradise' comes from the Persian word for a garden and has always meant the same thing in every culture. It is representative of 'paradise on earth' and is our opportunity to own a little bit of heaven ? here and now. It has a restorative significance as a healer when we understand that gardens provide us with a place of sanctuary and well-being.

The garden has the potential to provide a place of refuge from stress, "the health epidemic of the 21st century" according to The World Health Organization. Medical doctors suggest that stress resulting in illness is the causative factor underlying 70% of all visits to the family doctor. The ability of the garden to provide this place of healing and peace becomes crucial as more and more people succumb to this dis-ease of 'modern day life.'

It matters little whether an indoor garden is a few pots on a windowsill or a lush garden room, what does matter is that plants add a dimension to the home/and or workplace that literally changes the energy and adds life. There is something about caring for plants and tending to them whether watering, re-potting, or touching the leaves that re-connects us on a deep level with an overwhelming sense of awe about this miracle of life of which we are an integral part. As we plant the seed or see the cyclical nature of the gardens we nurture, time stands still, and we bask in the knowledge of our relationship to the earth, and to the spiritual aspect of ourselves.

Reasons for creating an indoor garden include: corners in rooms and on furniture are softened when plants are introduced and placed in these areas; living plants create feelings of calm and well-being; starting seeds indoors provides a jump-start on spring for those of us who get twitchy fingers in January and allows us to grow different types of plants not usually available from greenhouses; growing herbs indoors facilitates our ability to cook with fresh herbs all year round; teaching children to garden provides an opportunity for the healing aspects of gardening to become a life-long aspect of their lives; indoor gardening is a stress-management tool taught in various classes related to providing a higher quality of life for people dealing with loss through death, divorce, or trauma in their lives.

Steps to Creating your Indoor Garden

1. Purpose ? what do you want to achieve ? healing, meditation, growing herbs for cooking, or a project with the children?

2. Space ? how much space is available ? a closet, basement room, living room, corner of the bedroom, windowsill?

3. Seating ? is there room in your space for a seating area?

4. Characteristics ? create a specific type of garden such as a collection of Ficus, orchids, herbs, or ferns.

5. Features ? include water features such as fountains, art, sentimental objects, wind chimes, aroma and/or colour therapy, candles, and /or music.

6. Location ? is the location conducive to gardening indoors?

7. Light ? is the light adequate or will you need artificial lights?

8. Plants ? what plants will you grow? Indoor gardens can include anything from a tabletop garden, herb garden, healing garden, meditation garden, container garden, water garden, or wildlife garden. Thomas Moore wrote, "We may have to learn again the mystery of the garden: how its external characteristics model the heart itself, and how the soul is a garden enclosed, our own perpetual paradise where we can be refreshed and restored." In other words, the indoor garden can provide a place of sanctuary where we can take a moment and re-connect with our own sacredness.

Gwen Nyhus Stewart, B.S.W., M.G., H.T., is an educator, freelance writer, garden consultant, and author of the book The Healing Garden: A Place Of Peace ? Gardening For The Soil, Gardening For The Soul and the booklet Non-toxic Alternatives For Everyday Cleaning And Gardening Products. She owns the website Gwen's Healing Garden where you will find lots of free information about gardening for the soil and gardening for the soul. To find out more about the books and subscribe to her free Newsletter visit http://www.gwenshealinggarden.ca

Gwen Nyhus Stewart © 2004 ? 2005. All rights reserved.

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