Sunlit Paths by Nature’s Light

You can contact Christine Leahy about Nature’s Light via an e-mail to christineleahy@bellsouth.net.

Throughout the ages, music and beautiful natural settings have been used to promote healing. With the progression of modern medicine, however, these resources faded until the late 1990’s when complementary therapies and healing gardens proved valuable in enhancing the therapeutic environment of healthcare facilities.

Who doesn't delight at the sight of baby ducks? Wildlife contributes to the joy brought by a simulated journey through parks and gardens.Nature’s Light is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating therapeutic film / video programs using the beauty of nature and music to comfort people at home, in hospitals, nursing homes and hospice care. Contact us at: christineleahy@bellsouth.net

Purple bearded irises stand majestic above other spring blossoms. Nature's beauty has long been recognized as a healing force.Sunlit Paths relaxation DVD is our first healthcare resource and can be used by anyone. It was designed to simulate a close-up, personal journey through gardens, lakes and parks at the height of spring; offering beautiful nature scenes, colorful blossoms, lush greenery, water birds and koi. The journey is accompanied by soothing Celtic harp, flute, and “birds songs”. It is particularly comforting to people in hospice care or those confined to bed, helping them feel as if they are in nature.

Red tulips mimic the shape of the birdbath in the Gurganus garden. Expressive therapists and music therapists use Sunlit Paths as a visualization aid and complementary therapy to aid in healing and recovery.In the clinical setting, Sunlit Paths can be used by expressive therapists and music therapists as a therapeutic tool for relaxation, pain management, and stress reduction for those experiencing anxiety and fear about hospitalization or upcoming procedures; and as a guided imagery aid for patients having trouble imagining a safe, peaceful place.

Sunlit Paths

The Sunlit Paths relaxation video experience … providing comfort
for people at home, in hospitals, nursing homes & hospice care

Fiery yellow and orange make a striking statement in any setting. Blossoms and wildlife help create a simulated journey through nature to help patients relax and destress.Description: Sunlit Paths is a therapeutic video resource which helps relaxation and promotes emotional well being, for individual use or in complementary therapies. It provides an uplifting journey through peaceful spring gardens…colorful blossoms, lush greenery, lakes, water birds and koi. Highlights from over 20 gardens in beautiful Wilmington, North Carolina: Japanese, classical, and natural garden parks. This simulated journey is intended to be an active viewing experience, offering a variety of choices of images and music. The close-up camera style engages the viewer on a personal level. It is especially valuable for those who are confined to bed, as it helps them feel as if they are outdoors on a beautiful spring day.


Uses / Applications
: Sunlit Paths has a variety of applications in both clinical and residential healthcare settings. It is useful for people who simply need help relaxing and is also comforting for patients with serious medical problems. Sunlit Paths is intended for repeated viewing. For caregivers and nursing staff, the beauty of nature and music helps enhance the healing environment of health care settings. It provides a positive focus for patients. For practitioners in the healing arts, such as expressive therapists and music therapists, it can be used as an emotive tool / visualization aid.

Interesting flowers and landscapes can help take a patient's mind off of upcoming procedures. Sunlit Paths is a delightful diversion for those confined to bed.Benefits: Calming, uplifting, reassuring…helps relaxation, decreases stress and anxiety especially in those people who have fears about hospitalization and upcoming procedures. Used with a therapist, it can aid in pain management. Promotes emotional well being and helps improve quality of life. In health care facilities, Sunlit Paths enhances the therapeutic environment, for patients, family and staff. As with actual healing gardens, it helps create the sense of a healing environment.

Music and Musicians

In addition to a richly layered nature soundtrack, Sunlit Paths offers a variety of instrumental background music to accompany the journey: traditional Celtic folk harp and modern harp improv; flute: classical, modern and improv; violin: Japanese folk tunes and classical; and koto: modern-traditional.

William Jackson: The primary artist featured in Sunlit Paths, is an internationally known composer, harpist and multi-instrumentalist who has been at the forefront of Scottish music for many years. In 1976, he was founding member of the top Scottish group, Ossian. He is also a trained music therapist and lives in Scotland and Asheville, NC where he works with children who have cerebral palsy and autism. William generously allowed Nature’s Light to use excerpts from his CD, The Ancient Harp of Scotland. www.wjharp.com

Katherine Hoover: Critically acclaimed modern composer and instrumentalist, Katherine Hoover of New York City, is also the founder of Papagena Press which first published her award winning Kokopeli for solo flute. Ms. Hoover’s music is also published by Theodore Presser Company. The excerpt from Katherine’s Reflections used in Sunlit Paths was performed by Wilmington flutist, Victoria McLamb. www.papagenapress.com

A mix of colors and textures add interest to the garden. Scenes like these help as a relaxing visualization aid for patients that have trouble picturing a safe, eaceful place.Minoru Miki: Mr. Miki is an internationally known Japanese composer and instrumentalist who is also the founder and director of the Ensemble Nipponia (now Pro Musica Nipponia). An excerpt from Minoru’s “Hanayagi” (The Greening) from the CD Kabuki & Other Traditional Music features renowned koto player, Keiko Nosaka. www.m-miki.com

James Kurtz: James is a German-American composer and multi-instrumentalist residing in Wilmington, North Carolina. His music has been used extensively in the healing arts. For Sunlit Paths, James plays Celtic harp for Gliss in E, various harp improv compositions and recordings, and keyboard on Good ‘ol Dixieland and Native Spirit.

Dan Reynard: Dan is a composer and instrumentalist who plays flute on Native Spirit for Sunlit Paths.

Victoria McLamb: Victoria is a flutist, previously with the Wilmington Symphony. For Sunlit Paths, she plays classical excerpts from Mozart’s Andante in C and K.P.E. Bach’s Sonata in A Minor. Victoria is featured on flute improv and Japanese folk tunes from our prototype video, Garden of Light, which is also used in Sunlit Paths.

Nobuaki Yamashita: Mr. Yamashita is a violinist with the Wilmington Symphony. He is featured in the classical excerpt of R. Vaughan Williams, The Lark Ascending for Sunlit Paths. His previously recorded Japanese folk tunes for Garden of Light are also featured in Sunlit Paths.

Gardens and Gardeners

Sunlit Paths features highlights from some of Wilmington’s finest gardens. The Nature’s Light organization deeply appreciates the following gardens who shared scenes or blossom close-ups:
Airlie; Arboretum, New Hanover County; Ash’s Maple Nursery
(featured on About Us page); Clair; Cox-Lane; Forrest; Galloway; Greenfield Lake; City of Wilmington; Gurganus (featured on Home page); Horton; Ingram; Inn at St. Thomas Court; Landfall: POA, Temple of Love, Pete Dye Course; Latimer; Leahy; McRae, II; Malizio; Mildenberg; Olds; Orton Plantation (featured right), Sprunt; Perry; Rehder, Sr. (featured on Garden Lovers page); Root; Rosenmeier; Ruffin, Jr. & Sr.; Scott; Smith, Percy; Theobald;UNCW; West; Williams, III; Willard; Wright.

Sunlit Paths was made with grants from the Cape Fear Memorial Foundation and the New Hanover Regional Medical Center Foundation, Wilmington, North Carolina.

Nature and Nature’s Light

Mission

Nature’s Light is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization incorporated in North Carolina and located in beautiful Wilmington. Our Federal EIN is 56-2177221. We are dedicated to creating therapeutic DVD videos using the beauty of nature and music to bring comfort to people at home, in hospitals, nursing homes and hospice care. Part of our mission is to educate the public and healthcare practitioners / providers about the value of using such resources, since this is an innovative concept. Our long range goal is to have these resources incorporated into the standard of care, nationwide.

Colorful koi swimming in the pond at Ash's Maple Nursery are just some of the wild life found in the Nature's Light relaxation DVD, Sunlit Paths.Our Board of Directors

President: Lorraine Perry, Vice President: Desiree Joseph, Secretary: John Osinski, Treasurer: Mike Jordan. Members: Sherman Hayes, Michelle Masson, Grace Oberle, Alan Perry, Margit Royal MD, and Paul Zarbock. Honorary Member: Karen Gottovi.

Sunlit Paths: A therapeutic resource

The Sunlit Paths relaxation DVD is our first resource. It can be used at home or in a clinical setting as an aid for relaxation, stress and anxiety reduction and pain management. It was created by founder Christine Leahy in collaboration with the Healing Arts Network at New Hanover Regional Medical Center. This production was made possible by a grant from Cape Fear Memorial Foundation (special appreciation to Agnes Beane) and by subsequent grants from the NHRMC Foundation. We also collaborated with the University of North Carolina at Wilmington’s School of Social Work, Donna Hurdle, and School of Nursing, Lorna Bell-Kotwall, in an attempt to measure the effect, on patients, of watching Sunlit Paths during chemotherapy sessions.

Sunlit Paths features many beautiful scenes from formal gardens to woodland settings. The unusual but striking Pitcher Plant is indiginous to North Carolina.250 DVD copies of Sunlit Paths were donated to the Healing Arts Network and have been comforting patients for several years at the hospital and hospice center.

READ THE STAR NEWS ARTICLE ABOUT NATURE’S LIGHT HERE

History: Garden of Light

The Nature’s Light organization was founded by Christine Leahy after a prototype relaxation video, called Garden of Light, proved valuable in comforting cancer patients. Christine has Masters degrees in psychiatric work and film production. It was always her dream to capture spring’s beauty to help people with serious illness and those who were institutionalized. In 1997, Christine presented the idea to Lorraine Perry, expressive therapist, who had just founded the Healing Arts Network at NHRMC and Michele Erich, music therapist. The NHRMC Foundation provided a small grant. Garden of Light was created as a visualization aid for cancer patients. Jan Costley and John Osinski assisted in its production.

The Beauty of Nature & Music is Healing

Throughout the Ages

It has been known since antiquity that the beauty of nature and music has restorative, healing power. Until the early 20th Century, hospitals and sanitariums were located in beautiful, natural settings. Wilbert Gesler’s book, Healing Places, asserts that place matters to health…a healing ‘sense of place’ was integral to the healing process in Bath, England and Lourdes, France.

Long a symbol of love, the rose is unsurpassed in its beauty in the garden. Luminous blossoms like this helped inspire the Sunlit Paths project.Poets and philosophers have celebrated the power and significance of beauty throughout the ages. English poet, John Keats’ most famous line is from Ode on a Grecian Urn, “Beauty is truth, truth is beauty….” Mystical Irish philosopher-poet, John O’Donohue, explores beauty’s profound impact on our whole being in his masterful work, Beauty, The Invisible Embrace, calling our intimacy with beauty a “homecoming of the human spirit.” www.jodonohue.com/books America’s premier environmentalist author, Rachel Carson, believed that people who appreciated the beauty of nature would find “reserves of strength” that would last throughout their lives. www.rachelcarson.org

Enhancing the Therapeutic Environment: A Room With A View

Fern fronds lit by the sun and swaying in the wind can be a relaxing sight. Roger S. Ulrich, architecture professor at Texas A & M University, is the leading researcher in the use of nature in healthcare. He explains the decline of its use in the early decades of the 1900’s. “Gardens became less prevalent in hospitals…as major advances in medical science caused hospital administrators and architects to concentrate on creating healthcare buildings that would reduce infection risk and serve as functionally efficient settings for new medical technology.”

In 1984, Ulrich conducted the classic study which demonstrated that patients with a hospital window view of greenery healed faster than patients without such a view.

In Ulrich’s 2002 overview, Health Benefits of Gardens in Hospitals, he found growing scientific evidence that viewing gardens can measurably reduce patient stress and improve health outcomes. Even with nonpatient studies, “simply looking at environments dominated by greenery, flowers or water — as compared to built scenes lacking nature (rooms, buildings, towns) — is significantly more effective in promoting recovery or restoration from stress.” The effect was positive whether using actual gardens, artwork, photos, or nature videotapes. Even more amazing, “there is considerable evidence that the restorative effect of nature scenes are manifested within only three to five minutes as a combination of psychological / emotional and physiological changes…for instance, in blood pressure, heart activity, muscle tension, and brain electrical activity.” There has been a “major resurgence in interest internationally in providing gardens in hospitals and other healthcare facilities.”

Complemetary Therapies

Luminous blossoms produce a positive feeling. Sunlit Paths is a simulated journey used as a visualization aid for complementary therapies in the healing arts.In his groundbreaking book and PBS series, “Healing and the Mind“, Bill Moyers explores the mind-body-spirit connection and the power of positive emotional experiences. He asserts, what many of us have felt for a long time, that medical science is beginning to catch up with what we already intuitively know.

In Healing Places, Gesler explains that “the word ‘heal’ derives from an Old English word ‘haelon’ which means wholeness. The parallel ideas of wholeness, connectedness and integration run throughout the literature on healing. Healing is facilitated by integrating the physical, mental, spiritual, emotional and social components of a patient’s being. Each of these affect the other.”

In the late 1990’s, healing gardens and healing arts programs began to be placed in the “cascade of healing” in medical centers which used an integrative / holistic approach to patient care. Complementary therapies were used in conjunction with conventional medical treatment, helping to support patient’s emotional well-being and quality of life. Likewise, it also improved for families and staff as well.

The Sunlit Paths DVD simulates a personal journey through beautiful spring gardens, helping patients experience a safe, peaceful place. It is a therapeutic resource which provides a positive focus and emotional comfort. The music and nature track is especially soothing and uplifting. Sunlit Paths is most effective when viewed often.

Being There

One of the most interesting findings of Ulrich’s research overview is that the images of nature have a positive effect on the viewer, whatever its form — photos, murals, video or actual greenery or flowers.

Original Inspiration: Luminous Blossoms Produce Elation

The wondrous forms and colors of exotic plants are a marvel to behold. Peaceful parks and gardens give patients and garden lovers alike a sense of well being.Founding Director, Christine Leahy’s favorite past time years ago was photographing flowers. She began to notice that after shooting close-ups of luminous (backlit by the sun) blossoms she would feel elated. This feeling would last for several hours! In a poetic way, she concluded that viewing luminous images of natural beauty must increase the viewers internal luminescence — the inner “light” that seems to radiate throughout the body, mind and spirit — producing a profound feeling of emotional well-being.

Fields of poppies might conjure images of the Wizard of Oz, but the sea of color is a beauty to behold. Modern medicine is starting to embrace the healthful benefits of natural settings.Years later, she received her masters in film production from San Francisco State University and determined that someday she would recreate this elation experience for others, especially those in hospitals or confined to bed or institutions. She also learned that flowers have the purest prana (Sanskrit: life force / energy) on earth. When she moved to Wilmington, she was inspired by its extraordinary spring beauty. In 1997, Christine had the fortune of meeting Lorraine Perry, an expressive therapist, who had just founded the Healing Arts Network and Michele Erich, music therapist at New Hanover Regional Medical Center. She told them about the idea of capturing the beauty of spring and offering it to people who were confined. Lorraine loved the idea and said she had been looking for a visual imaging aid for cancer patients who had trouble imagining a safe, peaceful place. With a small grant from the hospital, Garden of Light was created as a prototype relaxation video for cancer patients. From the success of that video, Christine formed a 501(c)3 non-profit. The idea of a series of simulated, outdoor video journeys, called Sunlit Paths, was born.

Garden Lovers

…relax and enjoy your personal garden retreat

Wilmington, NC is known for its abundance of azaleas which are celebrated each spring with the Azalea Festival. Sunlit Paths features native plants and blossoms in both formal gardens and woodland settings.“Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Listen to birds trilling, leaves rustling and lapping water mixed with soft flute and harp music. Open and let your eyes feast upon sweet smelling roses climbing upward, lily pads floating upon still water and light filtering through the towering trees.”…as the Star New reporter described her Sunlit Paths experience. [Wilmington Star News “Videos give patients a healing journey” Cheryl Welch 10/2/06]

Garden park scenes like this help simulate a walk through nature. Therpautic landscapes are a valuable tool as a complementary therapy.The Sunlit Paths relaxation DVD provides a close-up journey through beautiful spring gardens and park settings in Wilmington, North Carolina, home of the N.C. Azalea Festival. There are peaceful nature scenes, landscaped gardens, and close-up blossoms from some of its finest…Airlie, Orton Plantation, New Hanover County Arboretum, Henry Rehder, Sr., Alan & Lorraine Perry Metts Avenue, and Ash’s Maple Nursery.

Lift your spirit with spring’s lush beauty: camellias, azaleas, cherry blossoms, purple iris, pink poppies, roses, water lilies…brilliant colors, soothing greenery, lakes, birds and koi. Over 300 images in this 70 minute simulated journey accompanied by a wonderful nature soundtrack with song birds, harp and flute music. Complete flower shot list is available upon request.