November 15, 2019

The Science of Sanctuary: Nature Heals Us

While sanctuary was an idea I arrived at intuitively, so many of the principles of sanctuary are backed by empirical research.

And while there is a spiritual element to creating a place of sanctuary for our inner healing and replenishment, science has shown that practicing the elements of sanctuary can have solid benefits to your physical wellbeing.

Looking out the window

Here is one of my favorite examples: the landmark study entitled View Through a Window May Influence Recovery from Surgery.

In 1984 Roger S. Ulrich did a study of surgical patients where each patient underwent the same surgery in the same hospital and where each stayed in one of certain group of rooms.

The rooms that the patients recuperated in were identical, except for one key difference. While all of the rooms had identical windows, some of those windows looked out over a grassy tree-filled area, while the rest looked out to a featureless brick wall.

Looking at the patient data that spanned nine years, he found something interesting.

Those who looked out over the trees and grass needed less meds. Significantly less.

They also recuperated faster, and had fewer post-operative complications.

They also made less negative comments about the nursing staff, and more positive comments, which means basically that they complained less.

What an elegant example of the power of nature to heal us.

Looking again

So looking at nature, at trees and grass, helped patients heal faster. That flow of healing energy came through the mind, which processed what the patients were seeing, and caused the body to knit itself back together in less time, with less pain.

Imagine what that can do for you and I? We may not be able to spend days looking out the window, but we can incorporate a little of that into every morning, whether it’s taking a cup of coffee outside to watch a sunrise, or regaining our equilibrium in the afternoon with a walk through a grassy area.

This is the basis of biophilic design — the idea that humans are hardwired to be in nature, and that our minds and bodies need it to function at their best.

And this is also the basis for sanctuary, bringing inside and outside together.

So in the comments of this post, why don’t we share ideas of how we can get more nature into our lives? Click through to the post, and you’ll see my comment first.

With gratitude,


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