Why is eye contact so important?
The answer lies in a primal part of the brain called the cerebellum. The cerebellum helps predict the sensory consequences of actions and triggers the limbic mirror system, a set of brain areas that are active both when we move any part of the body, including the eyes, and when we observe someone else doing the same. The limbic system underlies our ability to recognise and share emotion and is critical to our capacity for empathy.
Studies have shown that people who are more empathic, (according to self-report questionnaires) have stronger activations both in the mirror system for hand actions and for emotions. The mirror neurons respond to actions that we observe in others and fire in the same way when we actually recreate that action ourselves. And, apart from imitation, they are responsible for a myriad of other sophisticated human behaviour and thought processes.
A study from Tampere University in Finland found that eye contact during video calls can elicit similar psychophysiological responses than those in genuine, in-person eye contact. Joanne Hietanen, the first author of the study says: "Our results imply that the autonomic arousal response to eye contact requires the perception of being seen by another. Another person's physical presence is not required for this effect. Unexpectedly, we also found that even when the other person was presented just on video, seeing direct gaze elicited the subtle facial reactions of smiling. This suggests that these facial reactions are highly automated responses to eye contact."
Smiling is in a sense, neurologically contagious, and so are the good feelings associated with them! The act of smiling can boost our dopamine and increase our feeling of happiness. Neurologist Dr. Isha Gupta confirms that smiling sparks a chemical change in the brain. She states, “Dopamine increases our feelings of happiness. Serotonin release is associated with reduced stress. Low levels of serotonin are associated with depression and aggression.”
Data using eye-tracking measures suggest that the mirror neuron system develops before 12 months of age, and that this system may help human infants understand other people's actions. Studies have shown that eye contact leads to greater language skills by age 2. Early nonverbal forms of communication such as eye contact and joint attention, are vitally important for laying a solid foundation for language to develop. It has also been speculated that mirror neurons may provide the neurological basis of human self-awareness.
But for some, making and maintaining eye contact can be incredibly difficult. In 2006, neuroscientist Marco Iacoboni published a paper in Nature Neuroscience linking mirror neuron dysfunction to autism. “Reduced mirror neuron activity obviously weakens the ability of these patients to experience immediately and effortlessly what other people are experiencing, thus making social interactions particularly difficult for these patients. Patients with autism often have motor problems and language problems. It turns out that a deficit in mirror neurons can also, in principle, explain these other major symptoms.”
So, it’s clear that good eye contact from an early age helps to create those all important neuro pathways associated with empathy and helps strengthen the ability to communicate and understand the world around us. Understanding the impact a lack of this vital connection can make on a person’s development can help us be more sympathetic to a person’s struggles. And of course, don’t forget the power of a smile to lift the spirits of those around us.
Lots of love, Zoë xx
Source: Psychologytoday.com | ncbi.nlm.nih.gov | allinhealth.org | thinkbig.com
Autumn really is a visual feast! A second spring as the French novelist Albert Camus puts it - "What’s the autumn? A second spring, when every leaf is a flower.” And what ‘flowers’ it brings - golden hues, vibrant yellows and bold reds clashing brilliantly with contrasting colour combinations of red against green, blue against orange - Colour Theory brought to you by Mother Nature!
As we already know, being in nature has a wonderful effect on our bodies, helping to soothe and ease stress. Forest Bathing or shinrin-yoku has been known to activate a person’s parasympathetic nervous system, helping the body to enter a state of relaxation. But today I want to focus on why the colour of the outdoors is also beneficial. Karen Haller FRSA, is leading international authority in the field of behavioural colour & design psychology, she says, “When we use colour and design consciously, we get to create considered designs that improve the well-being of everyone involved… Every step we take away from nature we move further away from ourselves and what it is to be human.”
But what is Colour Theory? According to colormatters.com there are three basic categories of colour theory that are logical and useful: The colour wheel, colour harmony, and the context of how colours are used.
The Colour Wheel
Sir Isaac Newton developed the first circular diagram of colours in 1666. Since then, scientists and artists have studied and designed numerous variations of this concept. This basic Primary Colour wheel can be expanded upon to include secondary and tertiary colour variations, please see diagrams below.
In visual experiences, harmony is something that is pleasing to the eye. We are aiming for balance - extreme unity leads to under-stimulation, extreme complexity leads to over-stimulation. Harmony is a dynamic equilibrium, and nature is fabulous at it!
Analogous colours are any three colours which are side by side on a 12-part colour wheel, such as yellow-green, yellow, and yellow-orange. Usually one of the three colours predominates.
Complementary colours are any two colours which are directly opposite each other on the wheel, such as red and green and red-purple and yellow-green. These opposing colours create maximum contrast and maximum stability. Nature is great at this - especially at this time of the year!
In the illustration above, red yellow and green create a harmonious design, even though the combination of colours do not fit into a technical formula for colour harmony.
Colour Context is how colour behaves in relation to other colours and shapes. This is a complex area of colour theory. One example could be the way red appears vibrant against green, but dull against orange.
So let’s take nature’s lead - get outside more and soak up all the wonderful colours she has to offer. And if we can’t get out so much, let’s bring her colour pallet into our homes for a more happy, harmonious life.
Wishing you a happy, healthy October.
Lots of love, Zoë xx
Source: colourmatters.com | Karenhaller.com
Did you know there is an International Dark-Sky Association? Well there is! And it’s a global organisation that stretches from North America to New Zealand. The IDA states the sky is, “one half of the entire planet’s natural environment.”
Their award-winning International Dark Sky Places (IDSP) Program was founded in 2001 to encourage communities, parks and protected areas around the world to preserve and protect dark sites through responsible lighting policies and public education. This program offers five types of designation:
For millennia, the night sky has been a source of wonder, mystery and guidance.
Ada Blair is a psychotherapist, student of ecopsychology. (Ecopsychology is distinguished from conventional psychology as it focuses on studying the emotional bond between humans and the Earth.) Ada is also a regular visitor of the Isle of Sark, which is the smallest of the four main Channel Islands. Sark is a designated Dark Sky Community, where cars and street lights are banned, helping to make the perfect environment for viewing the night sky.
The fields of ecopsychology and environmental psychology look at how encounters with nature may be beneficial and transformative and Ada was interested to understand more about how the inhabitants of Sark felt about and responded to their incredible night sky. What she discovered through her quantitative research was:
You can read all about Ada’s research in her book ‘Sark in the Dark: Wellbeing and Community on the Dark Sky Island of Sark’ available on Amazon here.
But what is it about star gazing and the moon that captivates us so? The BBC’s Linda Geddes, delves into the lunar cycle to see what’s behind the mystery of the moon that’s fascinated us for millennia in her 2019 article ‘The Mood-Altering Power of the Moon’.
For centuries, people have believed that the Moon affects human behaviour. The word lunacy derives from the Latin lunaticus, meaning “moonstruck”. The Moon affects Earth in a couple of ways:
Both the Greek philosopher Aristotle and the Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder believed that madness and epilepsy were caused by the Moon. But scientific evidence to suggest the lunar cycle affects human behaviour was inconsistent.
However, in 2017, Thomas Wehr, an emeritus professor of psychiatry at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, published a paper describing 17 patients with rapid-cycling bipolar disorder, who showed an uncanny regularity in their episodes of illness. “The thing that struck me about these cycles was that they seemed uncannily precise in a way that one would not necessarily expect of a biological process… It led me to wonder if there was some kind of external influence that was operating on these cycles.”
Wehr was thorough in his study of his bipolar patients, in some cases tracking the dates of their mood episodes over the course of years. He discovered that his patients' mood fluctuations appeared to synchronise with the moons' (roughly) two-week cycles. It was noted that rhythms were interrupted by ‘supermoons’ when the orbit brings the moon particularly close to the Earth.
Another possibility is that patients are responding to the Moon's gravitational pullin the same way the oceans do: through tidal forces. "Humans are made out of water, but the pull is so weak that is would be difficult to see how that would work from a physical point of view" says Bambos Kyriacou, a behavioural geneticist at the University of Leicester, UK. "These are incredibly small changes, which can only be detected with extremely sensitive devices, but now there are over 200 publications to support this," says Joachim Fisahn, a biophysicist at the Max Planck Institute of Plant Physiology in Potsdam, Germany.
So it's clear the debate continues! To read Linda’s article in full, click here.
I for one love star gazing and the wonders of the moon. Absorbing the summer evenings as the sun sets and the fragrance of jasmine and honeysuckle drift on the breeze is heaven. As the skies darken and a tapestry of stars light the sky I feel the enormity of the universe and how we are part of it.
And don’t forget this year’s Perseid meteor shower which is active between 17 July and 24 August. This year the peak falls on the night of the 12th and before dawn on 13 August. Make sure to head out at dusk, allow 15 mins for your eyes to adjust, get comfy and enjoy the show.
Wishing you a lovely August.
Lots of love, Zoë xx
Source: darksky.org | bbc.com | Photo Credit: Greg Rakozy @unsplash
It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut. Repeating the same patterns day after day, year after year. Joe Dispenza talks about how we are so used to living in the past. Our expectations of outcome are based on past experience. How we prepare ourselves for a predetermined outcome before an event has even taken place. And when we do this, we limit the infinite, wondrous possible alternative outcomes!
“When you think from your past memories, you can only create past experiences. As all of the “knowns” in your life cause your brain to think and feel in familiar ways, thus creating knowable outcomes, you continually reaffirm your life as you know it. And since your brain is equal to your environment, then each morning, your senses plug you into the same reality and initiate the same stream of consciousness” - Dr. Joe Dispenza
Imagine if you could start each day with an open mind and heart. What could this day bring? What if you began your day with anticipation for what MIGHT happen as opposed to what you think will happen?
I always love seeing someone dressed in bright colours, dressed in a way that’s joyful, kooky and creative, not self-conscious, not worried about what someone else might think. And I bet you see people that make you smile, whether it’s through their clothes, their adventurous nature or their attitude to life. And what thoughts run through your head when you see this exciting person?
‘Oh! I could never do...’, or ‘Oh! I could never wear…’, or ‘I could never go to…’ to which I shout, “WHY NOT?!” And don’t get me started on the ‘I’m not… clever enough, talented enough, tall enough, short enough, rich enough!
It is so easy to pigeonhole ourselves with our own limiting beliefs. When we repeat the same narrative over and over again we come to believe it as true. Now, these beliefs may have developed through personal experience (it’s happened once before therefore it must be true). Maybe we have come to adopt beliefs passed down through the generations , ‘Well, Bob has always been shy’, ‘No, we don’t like xxx’. Or maybe we have changed our beliefs to fit into a social circle. There are many ways in which we come to hold an opinion/view of ourselves, but I would hasten to bet, many if not most of your beliefs are not necessarily a reflection of your true self.
Remember, WE ARE ALL ENOUGH! We have within us a universe of potential, we just need to believe it. We just need to not overthink it. We just need to jump into it! We just need to DO IT. Let’s challenge these limiting beliefs. Let’s move out of our comfort zone and try something new! Let’s dare to be different!
Here are some easy exercises to help overcome your limiting beliefs
And I would love to hear how you get on! Have a great July.
Lots of love, Zoë xx
The mind, body and soul connection! By Krishma Mehta, Holistic Health Coach & Founder of Traditionally Modern
The five elements theory
I am so pleased to bring you our June blog, written by our wonderful friend and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) enthusiast, Krishma Mehta, Holistic Health Coach, Academy of Healing Nutrition and Founder of Traditionally Modern. In this fascinating article, we are introduced to the principles of TCM and the connection we have with our bodies, the seasons and the world around us - how we can nourish our organs to help manage our emotions.
Thank you so much Krishma!
Nourish your organs manage your emotions
The five-element theory is held in high regard in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is a framework that represents the cyclical changes of nature (seasons) that correspond to the balance of energies in all living organisms.
Each season brings along its own energy and rhythms. Living in harmony with these seasonal changes allows us to live a life of physical, mental and spiritual health.
As we go through our phases of life, we also experience our own personal seasons. Just like the winter season (the water element), with an emphasis on inward development like a child in the mother’s womb, then moves to spring (the wood element) where, just like sprouting plants the child transitions to emerge in to the world with a focus on growth, we then go through the summer (the fire element) the expansive energy of social interaction, creativity and activity. The outward energy, starts to reduce as we age and go towards the autumn/Indian summer the earth and metal elements. We begin to centre and ground ourselves, we let go of self-doubt and gain greater awareness. Once again we move towards a inward phase as we proceed towards the winter- the water element, now focusing on wisdom and inner peace, the more stable life like calm waters.
The interconnected nature of our environment, mind and body is often linked to specific organs within our bodies.
Seasons and emotions
The interconnected nature of the mind and body
Each season carries its own elemental energy which is then associated with different internal organs. Depending on the season, nourishing and bringing harmony to the associated organ results in good emotional and physical health.
The interconnected and interdependent nature of emotions to organs in our body is increasingly becoming a subject of conversation in the modern world. Research in to the gut-brain connection is progressively showing a strong correlation in studies all over the world. An article by Harvard health states that ‘a person’s stomach or intestinal distress can be the cause or product of anxiety, stress or depression’ (health, n.d.) This may be a new and trendy topic of conversation for modern science, however Traditional Chinese medicine has valued this intricate connection of organs and emotions for thousands of years.
The fascinating two way interconnection of emotions to organ health, where emotional imbalances have an impact on organ health and organ health impacts emotions is fundamental to assessing and addressing disease and disharmony in one’s being. Understanding this relationship and how to connect with your body and emotions using food and lifestyle can have a pivotal impact in overall health and wellness.
ANGER & FRUSTRATION (Liver)
Anger is associated with the liver organ and the wood element. If you find yourself angry, frustrated and easily irritated, this indicates an overworked or stressed-out liver condition. On the other hand, excess frustrations, rushed mindless eating in stressful conditions and consuming food and drinks that harm the liver for example alcohol, caffeine and processed sugars puts pressure on the functioning of the liver and in turn leads to symptoms of liver fire and imbalance such as dryness in the throat, bitter taste, heavy periods, nosebleeds and skin eruptions.
According to the Chinese Meridian clock, a 24-hour body clock which embodies the concept of the energy flow through the body, 1 to 3am is the time of the liver. When the body should be asleep so as to allow the liver to release toxins from the body and make new blood. If you find yourself waking up and unable to rest at this time, focus on nourishing the liver.
How to nourish the liver
Foods: According to Traditional Chinese medicine, sour, astringent foods nourish the liver. Begin the day with a glass of warm water and lemon. Include fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi and kefir and incorporate cooling foods such as mint and green leafy vegetables in your daily diet. Also avoid excessive spicy foods as these put further pressure on the liver.
Lifestyle: Try to eat your meals mindfully in a calm environment. Avoid excessive intense exercises and instead try to go for walks in nature.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the kidneys are associated with the emotion of fear. Over long periods, if this is left un addressed, it may result in more chronic conditions such as a lack of will power and a deep feeling of insecurity. Common symptoms of this are panic attacks, night sweats, hot flashes, frequent/involuntary urination, premature ageing and hair loss.
According to the Chinese Meridian clock, 5 to 7pm is the time of the kidneys, the best time to have a light dinner and engage in some gentle stretching. If you find yourself particularly unsettled during this time and having negative fearful thoughts, consider engaging in activities that nourish the kidneys.
How to nourish the kidneys
Foods: According to Traditional Chinese medicine, salty* flavoured and dark coloured foods are nourishing for the kidneys. Include foods like seaweed, black sesame seeds, dark beans like kidney beans and black beans, blackberries and blueberries.
Lifestyle: Rest is essential to nourish the kidneys. Try to get enough sleep and avoid heavy distractions like watching the television and work before bed, instead focus on spending a few minutes reading or having a calming drink. Mindful activities such as journaling and meditation can be very helpful in bringing harmony to the kidneys. Stress is said to be very taxing to the kidneys and where possible avoiding situations of high stress can be beneficial to the kidneys.
*Focus here on a balanced amount of good quality salt like pure Himalayan salt or ‘naturally salty flavoured foods like seaweed’ avoid high levels of processed salts as these are derogatory to health.
HAPPINESS & JOY (Heart)
Happiness and joy are unsurprisingly associated with the heart and the fire element. When we experience joy and happiness we nourish our heart, on the other hand ‘excessive joy’ and sadness negatively impacts the heart and can result in a feeling of being stuck, lost and mentally chaotic. It is interesting to note that in Chinese medicine there is great awareness of ‘excess joy’ being connected to damaging the heart in Chinese medicine. This is caused by lifestyles whereby one engages in activities like excessive partying and social commitments and excessive ejaculation and sexual indulgence. The fire element is most active during 11am and 1pm when energy enters the heart meridian channel. This also corresponds with midday when the sun is reaching its peak which is the fire element in the cycle of day and night.
How to nourish the heart
Food: Red foods tend to be very nourishing for the heart. Including red toned foods such as tomatoes, watermelons and beetroots is very beneficial for the fire element. Having a goji berry tea with some jujube dates can very uplifting and help manage feelings of sadness. The taste profile of the fire element is bitter. Foods with a bitter taste like kale and dandelion are said to stimulate the heart and can be very beneficial to nourish the fire element.
Lifestyle: Lighting has a very positive impact on the fire element. Trying to ensure that you work and live in well light bright environments is very nourishing to the heart. In addition, lighting some candles whilst carrying out calming activities like reading, meditating or resting are said to light up the heart and bring more joy.
DEPRESSION, SADNESS & A NEGATIVE TEMPERAMENT (Lungs)
According to traditional Chinese medicine grief is related to the metal element and lungs. Prolonged periods of untreated grief are said to have a very detrimental effect on our lungs. Common symptoms of this are shortness of breath, a tight feeling in the chest, crying easily and frequently and being unsettled particularly between 3am and 5am, the time of the lungs in the organ clock. On the other hand, having well supported lungs can have a very positive impact on inspiration and ambition. The concept of having a light energised spirit is often linked to be housed in the chest.
How to nourish the lungs
Food: White or ‘white centred’ foods are said to be particularly beneficial to the metal element which is associated with lungs. Internally moistening foods like radishes, cauliflowers, garlic, leeks, onions, rice and oats help to nourish the lungs. The taste profile that is associated with this element is pungent and lightly spicy, foods such as onions and radishes can be very beneficial to the lungs.
Lifestyle: Deep inward breathing through our nose, then exhaling through our lungs via our mouth is said to be beneficial in letting go of grief. When suffering from grief, it is also recommended that seeking out support systems and among friends, family and professionals can be particularly helpful and in turn reduce the impact on the lungs.
So next time you feel overwhelmed by emotions, listen to your body and address it’s needs by nourishing your organs.
The five elements and seasons
Spring, is associated with the element of wood, a time of birth, new beginnings and growth, re-emergence of the outward expansive movement.
Summer, is associated with the element of fire, it is dynamic, expressive, social energy. A phase of peak energy
Late summer (early autumn/Indian summer) - is associated with the element of earth, after all the growth and expansive outward energy in the spring and summer, this is a time to come back to grounding, get centred and balanced.
Autumn, is associated with the element of metal, a time for continued contraction and inward energy. As the leaves fall and are drawn down deep in to the earth, it is a time to focus on intellect and release grief.
Winter, is associated with the element of water, a cold and dark season with an emphasis on rest, inward reflection, like floating calmly on steady flowing waters it is a time for deep thought, planning and preparation for the spring.
Thank you, Krishma
The best things in life are free, or so the saying goes. And when it comes to our body, we have an incredible, inbuilt way of being able to self regulate and calm our central nervous system, and it’s completely free, it’s called breathing!
When the breath is unsteady, all is unsteady; when the breath is still; all is still. Control the breath carefully. Inhalation gives strength and a controlled body; retention gives steadiness of mind and longevity; exhalation purifies body and spirit. - Goraksha Shataka, an early hatha yoga text, written in around the 10th century in the tantra tradition.
Breathing deeply, with a slow and steady inhalation and exhalation activates our parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS) sometimes known as our ‘rest and digest mode’. And when our PSNS is activated, it slows our heart and breathing rates, lowers blood pressure and promotes digestion. Our body enters a state of relaxation and recovery and helps to bring our autonomic nervous system back into balance. And yet so often we find we do not take advantage of this incredible resource.
Breathwork is an integral part of meditation and yoga practice. And diaphragmatic breathing can have an extremely therapeutic effect. So what is diaphragmatic breathing and how do you do it? For this we turn to the fabulous Aimee Hartley. Aimee has devoted her career to sharing and educating children and adults on the amazing power of breath and good breathing technique.
Learning to breathe fully into the lower abdominal area is the first step to improving your breathing pattern. One technique is called Transformational BreathⓇ. Transformational Breath is an incredibly powerful breathwork and can help relieve symptoms of asthma, unearth repressed emotions and help release feelings of joy! Taken from Aimee’s brilliant book Breathe Well, here is a beginner’s practice to get you started.
Why not introduce aromatherapy into your breath-work and your day. Inhaling essential oils stimulates the olfactory system, the part of the brain connected to smell. Molecules that enter the nose or mouth pass to the lungs, and from there, to other parts of the body. In this way, essential oils can have a subtle, yet holistic effect on the whole body. Zoe Henderson has developed a range of incredible pure essential oil blends to help relieve the stresses of everyday life. Why not visit the Angel Oil website today to shop our products www.angeloil.com
Lots of love, Zoë xx
* Source: Londonpainclinic.com / Breathe Well by Aimee Hartley / Photo Credit: Eugene Zhyvchik @ unsplash
Today is Mother’s Day, which in the UK can quite often get muddled-up with Mothering Sunday, a religious holiday. Although the two are quite different, one marketing led, one founded on returning to your ‘mother’ church, they do share the same desire to return home - to reconnect with the source of our childhood, comfort, security, love, community. And this got me thinking about the role of the ‘feminine’, how we navigate the world and what we can ALL do to draw on the power of the ‘divine feminine’ or ‘sacred feminine’’ at this challenging time to find strength and balance.
So what is ‘divine feminine’? ‘Divine feminine’ we talk about here does not relate to gender - it is not available only to ‘women’, this is about energy - the feminine energy which exists in all of us. We all have masculine (doing and achieving) and feminine (nurture, healing) energy within us and they can’t exist without each other, they should complement each other, like yin and yang. Finding the balance is what we should aim for.
‘The divine feminine is a way of aligning with the vibrant love of the universe and channelling that through your body into creating, connecting, or loving — and it’s accessible to everyone, because no matter what, we all have a body… Divine feminine energy is about uplifting that which has been denigrated in our society.’ Edgar Fabian Frias, multidisciplinary artist, educator and psychotherapist.
The divine feminine has manifested itself across many cultures and traditions over millennia, from Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism and of course, Greek mythology. No matter how we choose to represent the divine feminine, the foundation of this energy remains the same, this energy is about intuition, the softer skills, which in our patriarchal led society can be seen as weak and passive. But we know better than this.
Author, Gabriela Herstick describes the Divine Feminine as a ‘creative and life-giving energy within all of us that gives form to that which we care about and put our energy into… Goddess is the moon, the earth, the sea, the desert, poetry, art, love — it represents that which is felt and not thought.’
We know the strength that comes from compassion and collaboration, from creativity, acceptance and forgiveness. We need to restore the equilibrium between the masculine and the feminine for our own happiness and for the health of our planet. Remember there is power in giving and collaboration just as there is in individual ambition and achievement. Find ways to connect, collaborate and give back with your community, friends and family. Learn to listen to your intuition, recognise how you feel with certain decisions or in different situations. Connect with your heart and find the beauty and joy in the everyday and the ordinary.
And of course, the best way to find and strengthen your sacred feminine energy is to reconnect with nature. Spiritual author Shannon Kaiser says ‘We can instantly connect with the sacred feminine energy by spending time with Mother Earth. In nature, the feminine creative energy runs wild—its physical beauty is visible. Even five minutes of fresh air or a short walk barefoot in the grass can be enough soul food to awaken your divine feminine.’
So why not take some time this Easter to reawaken your sacred feminine and see the changes it makes to the way you experience and interact with the the world.
Lots of love, Zoë xx
* Source: bustle.com / mbg.com / Photo Credit Oliver Pacas @unsplash
So those who know me know I LOVE being in nature. I feel such a powerful connection with nature and the Universe, I feel the ebb and flow, the give and take of energy and source. A lot of my distance healing happens when I’m in nature or close to water as we are all connected, all made of atoms, energy and vibration. Being in nature helps us feel grounded - it reminds us of our place in the scheme of things, it can be a humbling experience.
Nature is so clever in it’s evolution and design. Just think of the intricacy and ingenuity of a wasp's nest, bee’s honeycomb or spider’s web. The wings of a butterfly, the colours of the world’s flora and fauna, animals and birds. We constantly refer back to nature for inspiration in our manmade world.
Trees in particular amaze me, not least because we need them for our survival! The oxygen they provide helps to make our delicate ecosystem habitable for human life. The process of photosynthesis enables the leaves of growing trees to absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide and release oxygen. The tree locks in the carbon until it dies, decays or is burnt. And as their leaves fall and become part of the earth, they lock away more carbon from our atmosphere, helping to create ‘carbon sinks’. As our modern life means we produce greater quantities of carbon, it is even more important we protect our green spaces, especially our rainforests - tropical rainforests store more carbon than other types of forests. Sadly 15 billion trees are lost annually to deforestation.
But there are some fabulous people in this world doing wonderful things to help ensure our ecosystem survives. One Tree Planted is a non-profit organisation focussed on global reforestation. They plant 1 tree for every $1 received. So far they have planted over 40 million trees in more than 43 countries across the globe! I’m happy to report that my essential oil company Angel Oil Ltd has donated to this charity through the production of our packaging.
But trees’ talent doesn’t end there! Trees can actually communicate with each other using clever fungi which grow inside and around their roots. This fungi provides the tree with nutrients and in return receives sugars. By plugging into the fungal network, trees can share resources with each other. It is thought that old trees, otherwise known as ‘Mother Trees’ may provide extra sugars to saplings, giving them a better chance of survival. Other trees who are sick or dying may dump their resources into the network, providing extra resources for other healthier trees nearby. Remarkably, if a tree is attacked it can release chemical signals through its roots, warning it’s neighbour to be prepared!
And of course, trees can help us. They can help us reconnect with the universe and feel grounded when we can tune into their vibrational frequency. One of my favourite things to do with my grandchildren when we are on a walk is to find a big old tree, a ‘Mother Tree’ (or ‘Grandmother Tree’) and stand with our backs to it, our hands behind our back and raised, palms touching the bark, breathing deeply and slowly, tuning in to the tree's frequency.
I have prepared a little meditation for you, to help you feel connected to nature. Click here to listen, I hope you like it.
So next time you take a walk, remember just how incredible the world we live in is and release that gratitude into the universe.
Have a happy and healthy month, see you in April.
Lots of love, Zoë xx
* Source: bbc.com / woodlandtrust.org.uk / 8billiontrees.com / Photo credit: Arnaud Mesureur
“For whatever we lose (like a you or a me), It’s always ourselves we find in the sea.” — E.E. Cummings
Water. We all need it. We need it to feel good and to survive, both as a human being and a civilisation. It’s one thing we ALL have in common, regardless of race, religion, culture or continent. Whether we lead a country or sweep the streets, water is vital.
But beyond the physiological need, water holds a deeper connection. In water we see ourselves reflected back. The seas are ever changing, some days they sparkle, blue and calm, at other times they’re stormy and towering waves crash the shore. Like human emotions they fluctuate and change, they ebb and flow.
There’s something magical about looking out over a vast sea, the expanse of a wide horizon always just out of reach. The hypnotic movement and sounds, the deceptive force that belies a calm surface that draws you near but not without caution, a primordial instinct. The fact that this water has been here since the dawn of time, and will be here long after we have gone.
I’d like to share with you some words from a lovely song by Xavia Rudd called Follow the Sun.
Take a stroll to the nearest water’s edge, remember your place.
Many moons have risen and fallen long, long before you came.
These words remind me that outside the confines of our homes and work and complicated lives, we are all part of something much bigger. Earth’s connection to the moon, the gravitational pull of the tides - we are connected to the Universe, to a place of unfathomable scale and mystery and possibility.
Why not use your daily shower or bath as a time to reconnect to the universe. Use the beautiful cleansing properties of water as a meditation. Here is a short meditation I love to use when I want to wash away cares and worries and feel revitalised and rejuvenated.
Lots of love, Zoë xx
* Source: wellbeing.com / Image: Rahul S unsplash.com
How are you feeling on the flip side of Christmas? For some it can be a very intense time, with lots of social engagements and family visits, and, depending on your nature, this can either be an immensely enjoyable time of year or an incredibly draining one. Some people LOVE an active social calendar and rotation of visitors. For others, frequent quiet time is a necessity.
How much social connectedness a person needs influences how much aloneness they can tolerate - some people are quite happy with ‘alone time’ and find it necessary for restoration and energy or creative and spiritual growth. For others, solitude is not at all enjoyable and can lead to feelings of loneliness. As humans, we have evolved into social beings, emotional connectivity is a core part of being human. Our mental wellbeing benefits from time with other humans, but it’s the quality of this time that really makes the difference. Do you get what you need from your social interactions?
Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, developing ways of feeling comfortable being alone is a fabulous tool. It will help you feel connected to the universe, more grounded in yourself and mean it’s not the end of the world if your date cancels or another lockdown descends! So, let’s start with a simple breathing exercise to help relax our parasympathetic nervous system.
Whether your New Year has started off packed, full and busy or quiet and contemplative, remember to find some quality time for yourself, and if it is a quiet start - you are not alone, we are all connected. Have a wonderful January.
Lots of love, Zoë xx
* Source: psychologytoday.com / cbc.ca / Photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com
Intuitive healer, horse whisperer and animal communicator who works with the angels to offer healing and guidance to all beings.