Healing Gardens for PTSD Sufferers
If you have never heard of a healing garden, you are not alone. Feng Shui-inspired, healing gardens offer tranquility, relaxation, and peace for those in need of solitude, harmony, and healing. Healing gardens have grown in popularity among doctors seeking alternative forms of treatment and are increasingly used as therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) sufferers.
The concept of a healing garden is not new. Several cultures around the world celebrate tranquility through garden design. Many of them are built following the ancient Chinese practice of Feng Shui. Feng Shui stands for “wind” and “water”, two elements that represent fluidity and movement. The art of Feng Shui emphasizes the placement of yourself, and your environment in relation to one another. The Chinese believe everything possesses energy. And this energy works more harmoniously when aligned to flow in a similar direction. It is believed that when certain pieces of your environment are harmonious, you will be more successful, more relaxed, and find inner peace. It is for these reasons that healing gardens have been created in or near many hospital facilities. And, it is a primary reason why they are highly recommended for people with post traumatic stress disorder.
What Benefits Do the Gardens Offer?
The benefits of healing gardens vary for each individual, but many report similar benefits, such as:
- Harmony and a sense of well-being: Each garden typically emphasizes a sense of harmony. Often, the gardens are designed in a quiet space and filled with many plants, flowers, and water features. The individual design components are brought together to highlight the life within the garden, and life itself. For those with PTSD, this aspect of the garden is highly cherished as it promotes reflection and self-evaluation.
- Movement and exercise: The gardens are built to be explored. Walking in the gardens promotes exercise. Paths typically fill the garden space and encourage mobility throughout the environment. For wounded veterans that are coming back from a tour, the garden may be their first walk with a new physical handicap or mobility challenge.
- Social engagement and opportunity: These healing gardens are shared with other hospital or therapy patrons. The space provides an opportunity for support. Those suffering from PTSD can socialize and share their feelings, their story, and the space.
- Beauty and wonder: Each healing garden highlights natural beauty. From flowers, to trees, butterflies, or benches; all pieces of the garden are put together to provide a spot for anyone to appreciate the environment around them. The idea here is to allow patients to get lost in something other than their own stressful thoughts and feelings.
Regardless of the benefits offered, the goal of every healing garden is the same. Each is built to provide joy, relaxation, and relief to those needing a special space to regain control and be present in the moment. Not every garden is designed for those with PTSD, but every PTSD patient can likely benefit from some quality time in a healing garden.