Hugging trees may be out of fashion, but what if a tree was to hug you? It’s a concept garden designer Betsy-Sue Clarke employs when creating a therapeutic space. “Having a tree canopy overhead is like having a hug,” she says.
As well as aiding physical health, Betsy-Sue says gardens aid spiritual recovery:
- Being able to see the seasons changing helps with moving forward
- The sound of water is important and watching water moving – never in a straight line – reminds us that our lives aren’t perfect and controlled either
- Seeing how plants battle and survive helps us to battle our own storms
- Some plants evoke memories from our childhood – good and bad. “I try to replicate elements of loving memories to help visitors feel safer,” Betsy-Sue says.
- The ability to make a memory in a garden, whether it’s placing flowers in a vase or stacking rocks, allows you to say, “I’ve been here”, and gives you a moment of peace or of letting go
Yes, it’s the latest buzzword in mental health, but mindfulness – a mental state achieved by focusing on the present moment and accepting and acknowledging your feelings and thoughts – isn’t a fad.
Being able to learn mindfulness is becoming increasingly important for our wellbeing.
“Find pockets during the day to … ask yourself, ‘What do I see, feel, smell, hear?’ This is the essence of mindfulness practice; simply checking in with yourself whenever and wherever you are, says yoga teacher and nutritionist Monica Moore from Moore Nourishing.
Monica says that integrating this practice into your day will help keep your body relaxed and be able to process your thoughts and emotions more efficiently.
The use of pure “essential” oils, which contain the essence of the plant from which they were extracted, was pioneered as an antiseptic during World War II, with a French surgeon discovering that the essences of cinnamon and cloves were particularly useful against the cultures of tuberculosis bacillus. He singled out eucalyptus, cloves, thyme, garlic, lemon, lavender, camomile and peppermint for their antiseptic qualities, too.
In more recent times, essential oils have become popular as an alternative to, or in conjunction with, conventional medicine. Aromatherapy is often used to aid respiratory ailments and skin conditions, to treat wounds and relieve nervous tension.
Eileen Mallard, an aromatherapist from Good 4 You Aromatherapy in Montmorency, Victoria, says, “Essential oils are used by hundreds of thousands of people around the world every day, to help maintain and improve their health. And, if used correctly, there are few reports of adverse effects.”
Music therapist Romy Engelbrecht says music is a powerful tool because it is found in every culture and language and anyone can enjoy it.
“Music therapy helps a wide range of people and is very effective in healing. From the baby listening to the mother’s heartbeat in the womb to the person who is dying, music can have a profound effect,” she says.
“Music therapists require thorough training and the profession is based on scientific research. We tailor it to suit each person we are working with.” Specialties include neurologic music therapy, rehabilitation, aged care, palliative care, paediatrics, early childhood, adolescence, mental health, autism, disability and community programs.
Feng shui is an ancient Chinese art used to orient buildings, decorate people’s homes and improve their lives by creating restful and energising spaces. It is used widely today by amateur homemakers, feng shui experts and design professionals, to create pleasing spaces for work, rest and play.
The basic objective is to create a harmonious environment that supports and generates both yin (female) and yang (male) energy.
Brigitte Seum, a Melbourne-based feng shui consultant from Soulspace, says feng shui principles are readily understood. “Good feng shui feels good – it’s comfortable – whereas bad feng shui is irritating or uncomfortable,” Brigitte says. “Be guided by your feelings, not your head. It’s all about how people and energy flow through spaces.”