Coming Home to Ourselves
There’s a Japanese concept called Forest Bathing (shinrin-yoku) – taking in the forest atmosphere with all our senses. This has naturally relaxing, grounding, calming and mood-boosting benefits, for those of us who have access and time to spend in forests.
It’s a beautiful concept, as it celebrates mindfulness, presence and a connection to nature – all foundational to mental health.
It’s a simple fact that we are biological beings, related to plants (and stars!) on a cellular level. We are made of stardust, our veins spread like tree roots, and our brain synapses swirl like galaxies.
Sabine Hossenfelder wrote an article about the possible sentience of the universe in Time Magazine. In it she writes,
Altogether, the cosmic web looks somewhat like a human brain. To be more precise, the distribution of matter in the universe looks a little like the “connectome,” the network of nerve connections in the human brain.
A 2020 study by the Italian astrophysicist Franco Vazza and neuroscientist Alberto Feletti, calculated how many structures of different sizes are in the human brain’s connectome and in the cosmic web, and reported “a remarkable similarity”.
Could the universe itself be conscious and we are each a small part of its vast neural network?
The idea of patterns repeating at different sizes is the concept of fractals, a curve or geometric figure, each part of which has the same character as the whole. The universe shows many examples of repeating patterns at difference scales, such as our brains showing similarity to galaxies and our veins mimicking the root structures of trees.
From this Treehugger article:
No two snowflake designs are alike, but many represent fractals in that the branches of a snowflake spawn their own side-branches, and so on. The snowflake could continue on like this for an eternity, growing the size of Earth itself, if it weren’t to stop accumulating moisture and, eventually, melt away.
Fractals remind is that nature is infinitely repeating successful patterns, and our own minds are representations of nature at a scale that is/may be replicated at both smaller and larger scales.
Learn more about fractals here.
This leads to a related concept, that of Biomimetics or biomimicry (literally: imitation of the living) – the emulation of the models, systems, and elements of nature for the purpose of solving complex human problems. This is implemented in architecture, engineering and other disciplines.
Letting biomimcry inspire us, we find solutions that use less energy and are inherently more sustainable. Biomimicry’s emphasis is on learning from, and emulating, the regenerative solutions living systems have for specific functional challenges.
It only makes sense that Nature – that which developed all that surrounds us – should be our teacher, model and inspiration. To think we can design better than Nature is arrogant and in many ways has led to the ecological disaster we’re now facing.
- What if all our homes were made from natural materials, in naturally temperature-modulating shapes and designs, and used only energy from the sun? We could house everyone and energy could be free.
- What if all packaging was made from natural, bio-degradable materials? Our oceans wouldn’t be drowning in plastic and our landfills overflowing.
- What if all transportation – from cars to trucks and planes – was carbon neutral, using renewable resources? We’d be a long way towards preventing our climate crisis.
From the biomimicry.org website:
Circularity, sustainability, regenerative design—it means that the things we humans make become a force for restoring air, water, and soil instead of degrading it. Nature uses structure to perform functions and passive forms of energy, whereas our inventions have typically used brute force, like mining ancient carbon and harmful chemicals. We can create conditions conducive to life, just like nature does. Everything we do must model how nature offers reciprocity and abundance for a diversity of life to flourish.
Knowing about fractals – the same patterns and systems appearing throughout nature at different scales – and biomimicry, one of the most successful and sustainable ways to solve design and engineering problems – it’s clear that we, as humans, are simply a small system of nature just like the stars, galaxies, trees, flowers, streams and stones.
So being in nature is not a journey through a foreign land, but rather a coming home.
Essential Oils are the quintessence of the plant
Aromatherapy can offer different meaning to each of us, from simple relaxation and pleasure, to serious healing to natural perfumery, and more.
But one thing that is a fact of every essential oil: it carries the quintessence – the spirit, or life force – of the plant.
Essential oils are one of the easiest ways to commune with nature – literally absorbing plants right into your body – from wherever you are in the world, and from plants all over the world.
Each essential oil is a concentration of many pounds of plant matter, distilled into a little bottle for your home and travel use. I think of each oil as a “forest in a bottle”. Forest bathing, concentrated, convenient, transportable.
Forests are full of trees, the earth’s lungs. Aromatherapy is the inhalation of plant essences for our own healing, immunity, pain relief and wellbeing.
So whether you are forest bathing, or bringing nature to you in a bottle, aromatherapy is another way to commune with nature, and come home to ourselves. ■