DIG THIS! Green Musings from GBG

Sanctuary & “Soft Fascination”

Close_up_on_maysun_wellsSanctuary, solace, serenity. Nature lifts the spirit and calms the mind. Our everyday lives are often in stark contrast to such tranquility, dominated by technology and driven by nonstop interactivity. We are inundated by artificial stimuli: bright computer screens, traffic noise, loud music, flashing televisions, captivating smart phones. Our ability to truly relax is inhibited by constant distraction.

While we intuitively appreciate a few deep breaths outdoors, scientists are also continuing to explore and affirm the benefits of time in the natural world. A recent study featured in The New York Times considered the phenomenon of “brain fatigue”: the inability to focus and the forgetfulness that comes from the brain being overwhelmed. Mediterranean Meadow“Natural settings,” notes the report, “invoke ‘soft fascination,’ a beguiling term for quiet contemplation, during which directed attention is barely called upon and the brain can reset those overstretched resources and reduce mental fatigue.”

Cultivating this “soft fascination” is a fundamental goal in our garden design. The gardens we create are intended to provide space for that contemplation, a personal sanctuary where we retreat from the cares of the world. Stemming from the Latin word sanctus, meaning sacred or holy, a sanctuary represents a safe haven – a bounded area, detached from our hurried and hectic world – where we find refreshment, recuperation, regeneration, and reconnection with ourselves. Wander into the soothing sanctuary of your garden. Can you enjoy its peace without seeing to-do lists? Can you reset your breathing to a slower pace? Can you simply be and enjoy time in nature, carving out a space of sanctuary for yourself?

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