Exposure to nature and beauty is a critical aspect of the Okada Wellness program. Engaging in stress-reduction activities, such as flower arranging, which develop this kind of sensitivity, is a regular aspect of the treatment program. Art and exposure to nature has been associated with the stress adaptation response (SAM) system of the central nervous system (Sapolsky, 1999).
The stress response in the human body involves a complex interplay between the adrenal glands, the sympathetic trunk of the spinal cord, and the cortex of the brain, which regulates the “fight or flight” response to stress. Increased levels of stress are reported to produce overproduction of cortisol in the bloodstream, which is associated with a number of cancers (Sapolsky, 2008).
Practicing stress management exercises, such as meditation, art therapy, and time in nature is associated with a reduction in the stress adaptation response (Cohen, 1997). Art therapist scholar Malschodi (2006), has cited a number of studies linking art therapy with reduced symptoms of autism, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety disorders (Cohen, et al, 2005). Stress management programs have been demonstrated to improve the symptoms of individuals suffering from hypertension and heart disease, as well (Mayo Clinic News, 2009). These measurable health benefits of art therapy are hoped to manifest in the participants of our tea ceremony (Bon temae) and Flower Therapy (Kôrinka) programs.