building a beautiful and bountiful world in collaboration with nature

Archive for July, 2011

Smelling Skunks and Coming to Your Senses

I have something to confess. Yes. It’s true.  I like the smell of skunk. Okay, I admit that the night when our dogs were young and went out to bark and came back covered in fresh spray – that eye and nose stinging phase is overpowering and not really perfume. A day or two later, though, it was quite nice from a few feet away.

My Queensland Healer agrees with me. We occasionally meet a skunk on our morning walks, and I have seen her bait one into spraying (not letting it hit her directly), and then a minute later go back and roll in the patch of ground that got sprayed. That way we both get to enjoy the smell for a few days.

In Lyall Watson’s book about our sense of smell (see last blog), he describes several instances when civilization has found a feral child. One was an 8-year-old girl found living with a female wolf. Another was a boy around age 12 found living alone in a forested part of France. In every instance, the child displays amazing sensory talents, as well as tremendous, sensuous delight in those senses.

In my two most recent posts, I have written about the beautiful design of our bodyminds and our in-built ability for taking in vast quantities of information. Yet what good is all that if it just goes to the subconscious mind and never becomes conscious? Is it actually useful?

Integrating conscious with subconscious, left brain with right brain, heart-mind with brain-mind, this is the path we are ready to travel. I call it integrative awareness. We have evolved all of these parts – and kept them – because they are both useful and delightful, and especially so when used together,  in synergy. There is no need to stop being rational. It is more a question of focusing on giving some time to exercising other mental-mode muscles that haven’t been attended to as much.

The best beginning integrative awareness exercise that I know of is … drumroll, please … coming to your senses. All of them. So head out to your garden some time soon. Have a seat. Get comfortable. Relax. Take a breath. Take another breath. Look straight ahead, but let your focus soften and watch the periphery. Look for movement. Don’t turn your head or shift your eyes, just notice how much peripheral vision you can take in. Before that gets tiring or annoying, close your eyes and listen. What do you hear? What’s the furthest away sound you hear? What’s the closest? Notice what’s in between.

Then shift to smelling. Notice whatever smells are around. Then taste. You can try lifting your upper lip and doing some quick sniffing in the flehmann move that horses, goats, and cows use. With smell and taste especially, you might not sense anything, so notice if any memories are coming up or if your mind suddenly wanders off to a different topic. Smell can activate that sort of thing, even if the smell itself is not noticeable.

Finally, eyes still closed, just feel. Feel the breeze on your skin, or the sun. How does your clothing feel? The earth beneath your feet? Touch whatever’s handy and just feel it.

That’s it. Notice if you feel any different inside. Often heart rhythms slow down when we pay attention to all of our senses.

When you open your eyes, try to stay attuned to 2 or 3 senses at a time for a few minutes before you get up and go about your work or play.

So, there it is. A simple way to become a being in an integrated, human bodymind.


The Nose Knows More Than You Think

I”ve been reading a book by Lyall Watson, Jacobson’s Organ and the Remarkable Nature of Smell.  There is lots of food in this book for nurturing an awareness of our wonderful, mysterious, synergistic sensory abilities.

The organ of Jacobson is hidden away in the noses of almost everyone who has been examined for one.  (While all of us do have hearts, apparently, a few of us may not have a Jacobson’s organ.)  It was first noticed and described by scientists about 200 years ago, and was thought to be a vestigial, unused piece of out anatomy.

A few scientists, however, have recently reexamined this organ, and are finding that not only is it used and useful, but also it is a vital and literal “sixth sense”.  Jacobson’s organ allows us to detect chemical signals that our noses can’t smell.  Things like pheromones.  It’s a very old organ, and has definitely been found useful in basic matters such as finding a receptive mate, but it seems that it also delivers other important pieces of information as well, and from an assortment of other species – including plants.

I had thought that hormones and pheromones (essentially little airborne hormones) were very species specific.  Not!  It turns out that the air is full of little chemical messages, available to any passing body with the proper receptors.  Some of these are detected by our regular olfactory apparatus (i.e. noses), but much of it is picked up on by the Jacobson’s organ.  From the truffles that mimic pig hormones, to the clover plants making estrogen mimics – and thus birth control – for sheep, to a rodent in Africa called Lophiomys whose skin glands produce a volatile, invisible mist with no noticeable smell that nonetheless leaves humans feeling dry-mouthed and uneasy, the air is often filled with subtle, chemical signals, a millions-of-years old communication system that dwarfs what’s happening on cellphones and the internet.

The thing about Jacobson’s organ is that because it’s such an old organ and system it’s not wired to the cerebral cortex, the “rational” brain, it is wired to the older, limbic, “primitive” brain.  You will receive its messages and know, but you may not be able to say how you know.

*** *** ***

So now we are up to not just one, but two, physical pathways and rational explanations of human bodymind systems that feed us large quantities of information at non-rational levels, ensuring that we are all capable of “intuitive” insights into complex areas of life and timespace reality.  Add to this the quantum, entangled state in which we actually exist and we’re ready to dive deeply into a fun, effective, and collaborative relationship with Nature.

Meet a Fabulous, Magickal Garden Creature: You!

One of the things I like about gardening is that it is never ending.  Part of that is obviously because of the cyclical, but ever-changing nature of Earth and this solar system. It’s also because there are so many variations and options to choose from.  Garden types and styles are endless.  There is, for example, the classic straight-row vegetable garden or the untidy English cottage garden.  Hydroponics has done away with using soil, while Zen gardens don’t even require plants or water.  In fact, the one element common to all gardens is a gardener.

So today, I want to talk about the gardener.  I’ve mentioned before that we humans are really well-designed.  In truth, we are magnificent creatures, but most of us are not yet aware of that, so here are some basic facts for you:

  • Your conscious mind (closely associated with your left brain) is a linear processor, processing about 7 – 30 bits of information per second.
  • Your subconscious mind (closely associated with your right brain) is a parallel processor, processing roughly 20 – 40 billion bits of information per second.
  • Sixty to sixty-five percent of the cells in your heart are neural cells – the same as brain cells.  These heart neural cells cluster and behave like a nervous system.  Your heart is a specialized brain.  (An example of the increasing evidence we are finding showing how “minded” our bodies are.)
  • Other organs, such as kidneys and intestines, also contain neural cells, though I haven’t yet found good data on the percentages for those organs.
  • Your heart is an electromagnetic transmitter and receiver.  (In other words, your heart could be compared to both a radio as it receives music and the broadcast station transmitting the music.)
  • The electrical side of that electromagnetic transmission put out by the heart is 100 times stronger than the electrical transmissions put out by the brain.
  • The magnetic side of the electromagnetic transmission put out by the heart is 5,000 times (5,000 times!) stronger than the magnetic transmission put out by the brain.
  • These signals put out by the heart are complex, nonlinear frequencies.
  • The signals put out by the heart send information/communication out into the environment as well as throughout the internal body. Proximity enhances reception, but we don’t have instruments sensitive enough to know how far out they go.
  • Your heart receives the electromagnetic signals coming in from the environment surrounding you, and it adjusts its functioning and signalling in response.
  • Your heart has direct, unmediated, can’t-be-turned-off connections to several parts of your brain including the amygdala, thalamus, hippocampus, and cortex.  These parts of your brain process emotional and sensory experience and reason and learn.  (You are using them now.)
  • When the heart entrains its electromagnetic signalling to the brain, that is, when the brain becomes the lead dancer or the lead drummer, there is a decrease in connectivity between the brain and the rest of the body.
  • When the brain entrains to the heart, when the heart is allowed to lead, connectivity between brain and body increases.

So what does all this mean?  It means that as a gardener/human you are a highly sophisticated, incredibly sensitive instrument designed to be able to take in and process tremendous amounts (40 billion bits/second!) of information about every aspect of your personal bodymind and the environment (all those other bodyminds) around you.  It means that you generate an electromagnetic vibration which the plants and other elements of your garden can read and respond to.  (I’ll talk more about plant nervous systems soon.)  It means that you are capable of attuning to your environment in the most magickal of ways.

We are designed to be integral parts of Nature’s web.  All parts of us are essential components – left and right brains, hearts, livers, the whole shebang.  It just seems to be a question of learning to let the heart lead in the dance.

NOTE:  For more details on many of the facts listed above, please read The Secret Teachings of Plants by Stephen Harrod Buhner.  A great book!