Winter Sanctuary

Bringing the Outside Inside

By Darren Buford

Originally published in Body Sense magazine, Autumn/ Winter 2003.

As the leaves fall from the trees and old man winter lies in wait, many people have difficulty giving up the aesthetics of summer. Unfortunately you can’t pocket all those roses and daisies away for the chilly months ahead, but you can easily compensate by bringing a bit of the outdoor spirit you crave inside.

One trend gaining momentum is to create a “healing garden,” incorporating the nurturing powers of the natural world into and around your home — something used by many healthcare facilities and spas to promote recovery in patients and clients. “I’m of the opinion that all gardens have a healing effect, no matter how small and no matter what type plants are used,” says certified nursery professional Marie McKinsey.

McKinsey, who is a landscape designer in the Seattle area, suggests incorporating transitional spaces from the outside to the inside, through covered porches and well-lit areas of the home, where people have protection from the elements but still feel they are outdoors. “I try to give clients gardens that are interesting all year — always something to see and always something to look forward to.”

In Your Naturally Healthy Home, author Alan Berman explains that some houseplants may help reduce the effects of indoor air pollution (see Top 10 sidebar), counteracting offgassed chemicals in the home and contributing to balanced internal humidity.

Berman suggests that one plant be allowed for 10 square yards of floor space and that proper positioning between light and ventilation allows for the greatest results.

Another means for creating an inner sanctuary is through small fountains to enhance humidity and noise quality inside the home. Traditional feng shui1 wisdom holds that water brings abundance and moving water translates to moving money. Custom water feature designs including aquariums, waterfalls, water motifs and decor can activate this moving water principle.2

The use of essential oils in the winter may also be used to establish your indoor refuge, simultaneously helping to stave off infections during the flu season. Diffusing lemon, pine and lemongrass into a room provides antibacterial protection. Other great essential oils to purify rooms and relax the body include eucalyptus and tea tree oil. A simple spray can be made by combining 2 oz. of pure water and 5 drops each of tea tree, eucalyptus and sweet orange.3

Finally, if you don’t have a green thumb and can’t attain the above home additions, simple meditation may provide the vital connection with nature you need. Authors Mary Capone and Janet Rupp suggest in The 5 Minute Healer sitting near a window or in front of a picture that represents a desired picturesque landscape. “Look at this scene for a few minutes,” they write. “Now, close your eyes and picture it mentally. Explore the scene thoroughly, hear the sounds, breathe in the aromas, feel the sun or wind on your face. Continue your breath while you observe the natural beauty around you. After a few minutes, open your eyes and enjoy the renewing force of nature within.”