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There are many practices that have received a lot of attention in recent years for their soothing effect on our minds and how that plays into a more robust wellbeing: Mindfulness. Nature. Aromatherapy. Aesthetic pleasure. Manual and craft therapy. Utilitarian art. Creative expression. But to do each of these things individually would take a lot of time and effort! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a concept that combined them all? Well, there is! It’s known as floral therapy—or flower mindfulness – but just what is floral therapy exactly?
Floral therapy can be a passive experience, simply involving lingering a little longer at a floral shop or in the flower section of the grocery store, or literally stopping to smell the flowers that you may pass in your garden or when you are out for a walk. It can also be a more hands-on experience of arranging and tending to flower bouquets. It truly is that simple.
Floral therapy helps us disconnect from our screens and our to-do lists. It helps us stay in the moment as we focus on a task that involves our hands and occupies our minds ‘just enough.’
Mindfulness can sometimes feel difficult. We may ask how we are to stop our minds from processing so many thoughts or when can we really take a half-hour break to sit and meditate. Meditation can also feel strange and uncomfortable if you are new to it and you simply might not want to do it.
We’ve all heard of physicians in Japan prescribing “nature” to patients as a form of preventive or even therapeutic medicine. Or take the Scandinavian expression “There is no bad weather; only bad clothing” as a reference to the need to be in nature in every season. Some hospitals are creating wellness gardens for patients to visit. “Forest bathing” (a walk in the woods) has become popular. This is because nature soothes and nurtures us. It is undoubtedly good for our health!1
That said, nature doesn’t have to be this distant place. There is this concept that nature is far away from us, that we have to travel far to get there. Instead, reframing the idea of nature to include small snippets of plants and flowers can make “nature bathing” a more easily accessible everyday practice. That is why floral therapy is so appealing—it is easy to do.
Let’s not forget how wonderful flowers smell. Have you ever walked down the street in early summer and passed a lavender bush or a jasmine vine? Or revelled in the smell of your Christmas tree when you first bring it home? That is because the scents of nature, particularly plants and flowers, help to release the feel-good chemicals in our brain. Part of the reason essential oils have become so popular is that they are a way to bring natural scents into our home and workspaces which help calm us.2
When you are arranging flowers or are at a flower shop or spending time in a flower garden, you are reaping the benefits of aromatherapy, simply by being there!
Beyond the wonderful smell, quite obviously flowers are gorgeous. Human beings are drawn to aesthetic beauty. We like to be visually pleased. People go on holiday and pay extra for a room with a view! We might spend hours at an art museum just to experience the beauty. We want our homes to look comfortable and feel visually pleasing. And obviously we like to make ourselves physically attractive by dressing nicely and taking care of our bodies, hair and skin. Looking at flowers and seeing the vibrant, bright colours or soothing ivories and whites is a pleasant experience.
When we participate in flower arranging, we are using our hands. Many of us work in an occupation in which we are seated, looking at a screen and using our minds and social skills. However there is something to be said for using our hands to create something. Some people like to experiment with carpentry in their free time or perhaps see cooking as their manual therapy. Flower arranging is another way to not only make something with our hands, but to create something pleasurable and useful to our homes (or offices!).
We all need creativity in our lives. Perhaps you are a painter or maybe you like to play the piano. However many of us haven’t participated in something artistically creative since we were children in school. Floral therapy allows us to express some aesthetic creativity. First we pick the colours when we are buying or picking the flowers and foliage. Then we choose the right vase or glass for them. And finally we find ways to arrange them to showcase their textures, colours and shapes. It may sound simple, but floral therapy really might be the ultimate form of wellbeing.
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