CREATE A HEALING HOME
More experts are realizing what the Chinese have known for
centuries — a pleasing environment can promote good health. Want to
feel less stressed? Add touches of the great outdoors — moving
water, plants, and images of nature in artwork — to your home. Want
to feel more energetic? Splash a touch of red around your living
The field of health design is attracting increased attention
these days, from consumers and healthcare professionals alike, as
research mounts that our environment can have a profound effect on
our physical, mental, and spiritual health. "To be truly healthy, we
need to feed all areas of our life," says Hope Karan Gerecht, a feng
shui practitioner in Stevenson, Md. "The key word is balance," says
Gerecht, author of Healing Design: Practical Feng Shui for Healthy
and Gracious Living.
Feng shui, a Chinese system of interior/exterior design that
dates back thousands of years, is based on the idea that the items
in our homes, and how they're arranged, can affect our life. The
three fundamental principles of feng shui are to improve our lives
(1) Encouraging the flow of vital energy (chi) in our
(2) Eliminating negative energy (sha).
(3) Creating balance in our homes by including the five
aspects of nature — water, wood, fire, earth, and metal.
Gerecht's 3 general rules of feng shui that support these
objectives are to:
(1) Have nothing broken in your home.
(2) Get rid of clutter.
(3) Rid yourself of things you do
When Gerecht enters a client's home for a consultation, she
looks for subtle clues that the environment isn't supporting the
people in the home the way it should. If a client is having trouble
sleeping, she will look to see where the bed is arranged and what
surrounds it. Placing the head of the bed against the wall, for
example, and using a solid wooden headboard add a sense of stability
and improve sleep, she suggests.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), Gerecht says, can be
traced to a lack of light. One of the principles of feng shui is
that all spaces in our home and workplace should be brightly lit
(unless you're trying to create a specific mood). "Brightness
supports more physical movement, and movement is life-giving," she
This isn't hocus-pocus, says Santa Rosa, Calif., architect
Carol Venolia, author of Healing Environments: Your Guide to Indoor
Well-Being, and co-founder of the National Building Network. This
area of concern is finding its way into our homes and offices, but
it's also entering healthcare institutions, says Venolia. "Designers
and researchers are increasingly looking at how our surroundings can
help us heal and thrive," she says.
a 1984 issue of Science, Roger S. Ulrich, PhD, of Texas A&M
University reported results from a pivotal study on healthcare.
After examining records from a hospital recovery wing, he found that
patients whose windows looked onto a green landscape had shorter
postoperative stays, took fewer pain medications, and received fewer
negative medical evaluations on their charts than patients with
similar conditions whose windows looked out onto a brick wall.
Many healthcare institutions are acknowledging Ulrich's
findings and are beginning to incorporate aspects of healing design
into their spaces, says Venolia. To promote relaxation, the
University of Arizona's Integrative Medicine Clinic — uses diffusers
to spread the scent of lavender; decorates with a lot of blues and
greens; has fresh flowers brought in every day; CD players in each
room mask routine hospital sounds, and the art on the walls is
chosen for serenity.
You don't have to go to a hospital to take advantage of a
healing environment, says Venolia. The first and most powerful thing
you can do in creating a healthier home of your own is to be aware,
she says. "Tune in to your senses," she says. "Note what's around
you and how it affects you. If something is annoying you or making
you feel bad — whether physically or mentally — that's what you need
to fix first."
Sorgen, WebMD Health.MSN.com
|Far Horizons |
First settled in 500 A.D. by Caiquetio Indians
of Venezuela, the Caribbean isle of Curaçao remained obscure until Spain's
Amerigo Vespucci landed in 1499. After Spanish abandonment, the Dutch
West India Company claimed it in 1634 and Curaçao remained a Dutch colony
until 1954, when it attained self-rule as part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Today, Curaçao's picturesque port, Willemstad, endures as a bustling trade
center. Visit the "Floating Market" along Sha Caprileskade. For the last
150 years, traders have docked schooners along the roadside wharf in Waaigat
Canal to sell their wares under colorful canopies.
Patricia Crane, Ph.D. and Rick Nichols present a website dedicated to
empowerment, self-esteem, creativity, stress management, workplace wellness,
and communication skills. www.HeartInspired.com