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Bonsai is a Powerful Tool for Mental Health!

an Asian woman making a juniper bonsai tree
Bonsai brings peace, joy, balance, and self empowerment.

Increasingly, studies are finding that that practice of bonsai has a positive impact on one's sense of well being and mental health. A 2021 study from Caroll Hermann and Stephen D. Edwards at the Department of Psychology, University of Zululand, South Africa, suggests that the art of bonsai has definite healing qualities, while also being easy to apply in a number of settings with minimal environmental impact. In short, not only is bonsai good for everyday balance; it shows great promise as having "ethically sound health promotion value of bonsai art in various settings", and being a major tool in the growing field of ecopsychology.

Hermann and Edwards conducted interviews with and sent out questionnaires to well known and respected bonsai artists world wide. Participants also completed the Generalized Anxiety Disorder Assessment, known as the GAD 7 and the Physical Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) to determine their qualative levels of anxiety and depression.

A table listing 8 themes in the benefits of bonsai
Researchers identified 8 common themes in bonsai health benefits.

Eight themes emerged:

Participants reported heightened feelings of empowerment, balance and connection to the world at large, and respect for the natural environment. They found great pleasure in the work, their results, and the mindful, silent time allowing for staying in the moment, as well as a heightened emotional awareness and resilience. Bonsai practitioners also discussed the stronger social connections the art helped them to forge in the bonsai community as a whole, which translated to their everyday lives. Finally, practitioners reported improved and lasting physical and mental health.

Hermann and Edwards concluded:

"From a therapeutic perspective, the creation of a bonsai tree affords the artist or client a wonderful experience. The creative process gives meaning and value to what has been created. The practitioner enters into a relationship with the bonsai, creating something new. The constant, cadenced cycles of nature and in time are satisfied through the tending of the tree, providing a form of accomplishment that generates joy in the practitioner... The bonsai becomes a representation that embodies the joy of finding and transcending the self through the creative experience... Bonsai art is an untapped source in the field of ecopsychology and ecotherapy." The art of Bonsai brings beauty both without and within. Everyone can benefit from time spent creating and nurturing a bonsai of their own! Source: Practitioners’ Experiences of the Influence of Bonsai Art on Health

Caroll Hermann and Stephen D Edwards

William A. Toscano, Academic Editor

Department of Psychology, University of Zululand, KwaDlangezwa 3880, South Africa Received 2021 Feb 5; Accepted 2021 Mar 10.

Copyright © 2021 by the authors.


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