A sacred space doesn't have to be a cathedral or a mosque or a synagogue. For our guest essayist, it's a city square she shared with a friend with cancer. Read this lovely essay and then tell us what is your sacred space?
The light and smells in places like hospitals can often depress us. And, our favorite room at home keeps us sane. But why? Immunologist Esther Sternberg explains the scientific research revealing how physical spaces create stress and make us sick — and how good design can trigger our "brain’s internal pharmacies" and help heal us.
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Send us your photos of garden spaces and places that serve as sources of contemplation and inspiration for new ways of looking at and thinking about the deeper meaning of things.
"We praise you for the oceans and for the fresh streams, for the endless mountains, the trees, the grass under our feet. We praise you for our senses, to be able to see the moving splendour, to hear the songs of lovers, to smell the beautiful fragrance of the spring flowers."
If you could stand in someone else's shoes... Hear what they hear. See what they see. Feel what they feel. Would you treat them differently? A video that speaks to the connections we all need.
About the Image
This rendering is one of Huelat Parimucha's proposals for a hospital emergency room in the Washington D.C. area. The walking labyrinth was suggested to help mitigate stress, and the back waterfall was designed to provide a healing sanctuary. The design firm has also participated in three Pebble Projects to inform their work in the healthcare industry.
Voices on the Radio
Esther Sternberg is Research Director at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona in Tucson. She was formerly at the National Institutes of Health. Her books include Healing Spaces: The Science of Place and Well Being, and The Balance Within: The Science Connecting Health & Emotions
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The late Irish poet and philosopher, John O'Donohue, is beloved for his book Anam Ċara, Gaelic for "soul friend," and for his insistence on beauty as a human calling and a defining aspect of God. In one of his last interviews before his death in 2008, he articulated a Celtic imagination about how the material and the spiritual, the visible and the invisible worlds intertwine in human experience.
The American experience of stress has spawned a multi-billion dollar self-help industry. Wary of this, Esther Sternberg says that, until recently, modern science did not have the tools or the inclination to take emotional stress seriously. She shares fascinating new scientific insight into the molecular level of the mind-body connection.