Gardens: Magic Stress Relievers!


Garden of the Heart of Heaven, at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Photo by Prestor Saillant
Tenshin-en, or “Garden of the Heart of Heaven”, at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Photo by Prestor Saillant

There is something magical about a garden that can soothe and heal the soul.  I remember visiting a distant relative who was in a hospice at a hospital that had a beautiful outdoor garden on the top floor.  He was not able to appreciate this garden because he was comatose.  I remember thinking that one should make the most of life’s opportunities to enjoy and experience the power of gardens.

Life has a way of bringing us through ups and downs.  It is imperative to the senses as well as to the emotional well-being of individuals that time be taken to contemplate beautiful gardens. The senses are heightened, relieved and soothed when we behold the beauty that nature has to offer us.

I know the many times that a prayer walk through a garden has refreshed my mind, body and soul.  If I am sad, depressed, or frustrated it has a calming effect on my mind which in turn calms my body.  My attitude is adjusted, as well, to begin to hope anew and become positive about life and the future.

“Garden of the Heart of Heaven"
Taking in the scents at Tenshin-en, or “Garden of the Heart of Heaven”, at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Photo by Prestor Saillant

Hearing birds singing, while viewing the intricate handiwork and beautiful colors of flowers or trees in bloom, and smelling their fragrance seems as affective as a sedative for inducing relaxation, without the side effects.  Even a memory of a beautiful garden has meditative potential to harness tranquility.

Therapeutic Gardens for Healing

An example of a garden that is actively being used for therapy is the Morikami program .  “For almost 10 years, the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Boca Raton, Fla., has offered strolls for well-being for caregivers and people living with loss and illness. Vietnam vets suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, grieving widows, exhausted caregivers, and people living with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis have strolled the gardens, written their thoughts and feelings in accompanying journals and experienced a sense of calm and joy.”  The art of writing down thoughts and feelings or even drawing artistically has a cathartic quality that promotes therapeutic healing.  It is as the proverbial onion whose layers are pulled back to reveal the inner parts that make it whole.

Prayer walks have become a mental medicine for my soul.  I pour my heart out to the Lord through thanksgiving, praise, problems, questions, uncertainties, frustrations, fear, anger,  joy and requests.   It’s like talking to a friend who is right there by me physically.  I feel I need this as the air I breathe to survive.  I hope you feel inspired to  visit a garden for as John Burroughs says, ” I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.”

“Garden of the Heart of Heaven"
Tenshin-en, or “Garden of the Heart of Heaven”, at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Photo by Prestor Saillant


2 thoughts on “Gardens: Magic Stress Relievers!”

  1. Since I live in an apartment I don’t have space for a garden, but I’ve had a plumeria for several years. I love smelling its blooms! They are a beautiful shade of Pink. Closing my eyes and inhaling its fresh fragrance brings a sense of peace and brightens my day.

  2. Didn’t know much about the plumeria, so I looked it up in Wikipedia and found that it is associated with worship in Sri Lanka.
    Perhaps your deep inhalation of it’s fragrance is a form of prayer. I always feel there is so much more than meets the eye when we interact with nature. We need to give nature a chance to heal us on a variety of subconscious and conscious levels.

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