Manifesting a Healing Space
Approximately two years ago, after years of self work and determination to improve my life, I decided I was ready to put myself out into the world to find a friend and companion. I put forth to the universe positive thoughts and deeds and the universe answered as it often does in kind with positivity and bounty. To my astonishment I was blessed that a beautiful woman with a kind soul and a penchant for healing came into my life.
Over time, she has become the most important person in my life and has given me a much needed grounded relationship and new found purpose for healing of my own. She would also become the most rewarding client I have ever had the pleasure of working with. She has taught me that architecture can influence healing on a deep level and needs to respond with intention to do so.
Besides being my fiance, I am ecstatic to marry in the coming year, Ami Grace is a licensed clinical therapist and psychedelic healer who specializes in PTSD and trauma healing. She is sought after by individuals who need to make breakthroughs to heal where other methods and modalities have failed. Her procedures require plant medicines and long hours of holding space for people who have experienced trauma. This requires a safe, nurturing, and natural environment so the patient can let go and be vulnerable and open to therapeutic processes. There is plenty of prep work and clients are asked to bring their intentions to the session. They emerge with a greater awareness of the proper path ahead of them and over time are able to heal their minds and be the best version of themselves.
Hand in hand, as the architect and therapist, we were inspired to create a space for this healing event with a mindful budget in the humble space of our backyard. For me this was an empathetic process by which I have been involved in Ami’s healing process. The foundation needed to be grounded with the earth to draw in its energy to provide the healing. The structure needed to be light and transparent to connect with nature and be open to the elements. It needed to convey a sense of welcoming and provide a soft place to land to help the patient feel at ease as they are made wide open and vulnerable during the process.
We ended up choosing a yurt as the appropriate structure for this space of healing. It is light in form and allows the outside natural elements in. It is inexpensive in comparison to similar additions, like she-sheds. It is round and conveys a sense of harmony. We chose to go with a yurt company out of Grass Valley, California whose company name also inspired our new space. And so the name ‘Living Intent’ originated and derived from the process by which people release what they don't need and realign their thoughts to what is most important. Rather than living up to unrealistic expectations, it means living a life aligned with one’s own values. Living intentionally is letting go of all the things our minds tell us we need to do in order to prove that we're good enough—and then doing the things we would do if we already knew that we were.
Living Intent needed to be grounded and connected to the earth to allow the energy of the Earth to absorb into the space. Healing of this nature requires the patient to connect to the earth as this is the normal homeostasis and supports the physiological response to the plant medicine. Indigenous Native American medicine plays a part in the process. The four directions are called into the space and natural elements are conduits for energy flow from the earth to the mind. Earth-born crystals are the catalyst to release negative energy, protect the space, and cleanse the mind.
Living Intent must allow nature into the space. It needs to be low to the ground for Mother Earth to connect. It needs to provide the visual queues by framing nature. It needs to allow the sounds of water and the local natural inhabitants to penetrate. It needs to funnel sunlight into the space to provide warmth, energy, and soft light. The lattice wall formed from sustainable bamboo creates a light and strong but perforated structure. The roof structure is made of sustainable bamboo and white ash and vaults from 7 to 11 feet. The radial pattern rises to a central oculus which allows filtered light and venting. The transparent nature of the structure allows the natural surroundings and energy to flow and aid healing.
Nestled between two mature trees, the space offers a soft setting to land and allows the resident to process their intentions. We chose a circular space for its welcoming qualities. The patient needs to feel an immediate sense of comfort to feel at ease and be able to be vulnerable to do the healing. The round room sends a positive emotional message of harmony and protection. The circle represents unity, commitment, love, and community. Curves in general when used in shapes tend to be viewed as feminine in nature while straight lined shapes are more masculine. The healing requires a feminine energy, that of a mother. The space connects Mother Earth to the healer and the recipient. The lighting and amenities chosen are low voltage and low EMF so as not to interfere with the healing energies.
The small landscape footprint offers a rich atmosphere using rocks from the site to form the path work. Bamboo fencing separates the perimeter from the main house. A sitting circle introduces the element and energy of fire. Subtle solar lighting and a flowing water feature set the mood. Native planting softens the space.
The space comes alive at night and at the end of a long work day when the moon is high in the sky and Ami emerges from her session, I am reminded of the importance of how architecture can be made to hold space. For this design challenge, creating the set and setting is the most important aspect for this healing event to occur. Alongside that, the architecture needs to perform in a seamless and purposeful way so that the practitioner can focus on the patient's living intention. This experience has enriched our lives and enhanced our understanding of each other as professionals. As a result, it has strengthened our bond as life partners.
Written by Michael DeMartini
All photos, videos, and diagrams were created and shot by Michael DeMartini
Practical Crystals: Crystals for Holistic Wellbeing, by Kathy Banegas, Leaping Hare Press
Indigenous Cultures and Mental Health Counseling, Four Directions for Integration with Counseling Psychology, by Ashley Hyatt, Roy Moodley, Suzanne L. Stewart