The Healing Power of Nature’s Beauty

by Linda Wiggen Kraft

Imagine a medicine so strong that it alone will let you go home a day early from hospital surgery, you will feel less pain and have fewer complaints about it. In fact, there is a medicine that strong which science is now recognizing and measuring. This medicine is simply the power of viewing the beauty of nature.

In 1984 a clinical, well-measured, randomized study of twenty-three gall bladder surgery patients was done in a Pennsylvania hospital. The study is called the “A View from a Window”. The patients had the same surgery, the same doctors and nurses, medications, etc. The one and only variable was the view. One set of patients looked out a window at a brick wall and the second set looked out a window at a grove of trees. Those with the view of nature, on average, went home a day earlier, had less pain medication and fewer complaints about pain. This study was the beginning of an entire new field of design for hospitals and healing centers, called Evidence Based Design. Other studies have been done showing actual measurable positive effects from providing views of nature and designing spaces for the well-being of patients and staff.

As gardeners and nature lovers most of us have known all along about the healing power of nature’s beauty. Fortunately there are now measurable scientific ways of showing how important and necessary nature is in our lives. Newer studies detail how hormones that make us feel good are released simply by looking at the beauty of nature, and that there is a universal positive brain response when beautiful outdoor scenes are perceived.

The medicine of healing through nature is not something limited to hospitals and healing centers though. It is most important at home. Medicine and healing are part of our lives each and every day, no matter what a person’s state of health is. In some cultures food is recognized as medicine, and it is. Medicine is what nourishes us and increases our life energy. We can look at all we ingest as medicine: the food we eat, the sights we see, the breath we take in, the sounds we hear, the touch of the atmosphere, our surroundings and others. Healing is also something we all do everyday. To heal means to make whole. Everyone’s life is a healing journey of becoming whole.

Gardens and beautiful landscapes around our homes are the medicine that provides us with daily nourishment and healing power. We all need to be surrounded by nature’s beauty. The greatest healing is to be in a garden or wild space. As the weather warms and the green growing of summer approaches, know how powerful and healing a garden can be. Step outside and spend time touching the earth. And if a view of nature is all that is possible, know that that alone has a strong powerful effect of helping each of us on our life journey to healing and wholeness.

Linda Wiggen Kraft is a landscape designer whose work centers around holistic and sustainable gardens. She is also a mandala artist and workshop leader. Blog: www.CreativityForTheSoul.com/blog. Website is: www.CreativityForTheSoul.com. She can be contacted at 314 504-4266