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Gardens as Therapy vs. Therapy as Therapy (go for both)

I know I told you yesterday that today’s post would be much more pertinent and/or interesting, and I’m really not sure that this fits the bill.  So actually tune back in tomorrow if you’re counting on that criteria.

 

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I once found myself in a romantic relationship I fondly refer to as “The Mr. Bojangles Show” (obviously his real name).  Bojangles played the main and all-consuming role in the story of us, while mine was a bit part that came on and off stage in flashes that barely registered on the screen.  On paper this pairing looked perfect.  He was an architect (ooo, ahh), was hugely intellectual, came from a wealthy family, had an ivy league background (again, ooo, ahh), was equally musically and artistically inclined, had athletic abilities way beyond me, and had an intense attention to detail that I could relate to.  Sounds awesome!  The big kicker, though, was that in a full year of being together not once did the words “how are you,” “how was your day,” “what do you think about ____,” or “tell me about ____” come up.  WHAT.

 

So I enlisted in some therapy and started by asking “what can I do to make this better?”  I was lucky enough to find a therapist who spoke directly to my soul, and after one session of learning my brain mis-wirings (in this case causing me to be magnetized towards  a narcissist), I changed my tune to “adios, this is so boring and sad and totally weird!”  Pretty good, right?  I’m unbelievably happy that I didn’t do 20-to-life in that supremely unfulfilling tango.  Incidentally, I now have superb radar for anyone who takes up more than their fair share of space in any given scenario and I steer my ship about 100 miles around them when possible (and it’s almost always possible).

 

Around the same time as the Mr. Bo-J debacle, my mom told me “if you don’t write your own story, there are plenty of people who will step in and do it for you.”  Isn’t that a gem?  So true, mom!  I carry that with me daily and it has influenced so many decisions. (On a related note, once when I was about 19 I flooded out her car by leaving the sun roof open during a multi-day storm, and she said “if you don’t take care of things you won’t have anything at all.”  ZING.  I can’t wait until my girlfriend and I have teenage kids – instead of disowning them when they wreck stuff like functional vehicles, hopefully we’ll come up with some of these prize statements.)

 

Now I’m in a relationship that weaves together two sets of ideas, dreams, goals, interests, and daily successes and failures.  Obviously that has its own set of complications (I’m definitely not saying that it’s all Candyland and fuzzy kittens), but we’re two people sitting equally at the table of life, and generally it’s pretty awesome.

 

So my point is:  therapy rules!  And moms have some irreplaceable words that help along the way.

 

Anyway, here’s my next point: gardens and landscapes can have huge therapeutic effects.  There are at least a couple different sides to this.  One is the physical participation in gardens, like sledging out concrete, digging in the dirt, and cultivating plants, and the psychological benefits these activities bring.  The other includes the positive mental and physical implications gained from just spending time in a space that is beautiful and natural.  Both of these “therapies” may bring about relaxation, release anger and negative feelings, and give the mental space needed to move beyond a particular hurdle.

 

I have a friend who works at a neighborhood elementary school as a counselor/environmental educator, and he uses the school’s garden spaces to help children deal with grief and loss, quarrels with peers, and the normal frustrations that come up in life.  It’s a pretty fantastic approach, and gives the kids a whole new set of tools to cope with stuff in a holistic manner.  Let’s do this at every school!

 

So to wrap it up today, here are some photos of therapy, healing, and meditation gardens fit for a variety of ages and user groups.  Is this already the way you treat your outdoor space?  Or do you dream of your own therapy garden?  I know I want one, so my first move in that direction has been establishing as many trees as the yard can handle (I think we’re up to about 20 so far).  Check back with me in about a decade when they’re really doing their job.

 

Farewell for now, friends.  I hope you’re going to have some moments of relaxation this fine Saturday on planet Earth.

 

therapy garden 2-01

 

 Harrison Hospital roof garden

 

 

healing garden

 

 

HewitFoundationHealingGarden_1

 

 

scottsdale

therapy garden 1-01

 

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