Learn from the Music of Plants – Know we are but one
By Miranda Munro, co-founder with Karl Akkerman of Western Australia’s Kyela Sound Therapy
The forest spreads before you: its palate of emerald, olive and slate mingles and blends to create a masterpiece of nature.
The soft warmth of the day blankets you in its comforting embrace, a gentle breeze wafts through you, the air resounds with a symphony of birdsong and the plants and trees shimmer in the light that dances through their leaves. The sensations are tangible, palatable and palpable; everything feels so alive.
It is here, in an instant, we all experience the pure uninterrupted energy of life and – if only for a moment – we ‘know’ we are connected.
Being ‘connected to all’ was once the domain of spiritual thought. But recently, while braving the frontier of consciousness, the world of science has begun to realise it shares the same mother as esoteric thought. The new science of plant neurobiology has begun to demonstrate plant consciousness.
The same sense as humans
One scientist, Michael Pollan, explains that plants have the same senses as humans. Plants even go beyond this and can feel the presence of water; they can sense gravity and an obstruction in the path of their roots well before it is encountered.
Pollan says: “They have ways of taking all the sensory data they gather in their everyday lives… [they] integrate it and then behave in an appropriate way in response. And they do this without a brain, which, in a way, is what’s incredible about it, because we automatically assume you need a brain to process information.
“You can put a plant out with a human anesthetic. They don’t have nerve cells like humans, but they do have a system for sending electrical signals and even produce neurotransmitters, like dopamine, serotonin and other chemicals the human brain uses to send signals.”
We also assume that ears are needed in order to hear. Researchers at the Division of Plant Sciences at Missouri performed an experiment where they played a recording of a caterpillar eating a leaf. The listening plants reacted by producing defensive chemicals. When the researchers played sounds of non-threatening insects, they did not trigger any response.
Dr Monica Gagliano is an Australian Research Council research fellow at The University of Western Australia’s Centre for Evolutionary Biology. Dr Gagliano has performed experiments that have demonstrated that plants have memory.
Dr Gagliano and her team tested the mimosa pudica plant and discovered it can learn and remember equally as well as animals She concludes: “Plants may lack brains and neural tissues but they do possess a sophisticated calcium-based signal network in their cells similar to animals’ memory processes.”
Trees communicate with each other
A forest ecologist from the University of British Columbia, Dr Suzanne Simard, has shown how trees in a forest use the underground web of mycorrhizal fungi, which connects their roots, to exchange information and allows the trees to communicate with each other. It may be as warnings against insect attack, or to feed carbon, nitrogen, and water to other trees lacking these nutrients.
Dr Simard’s research showed how older trees were using the network to nourish seedlings until they were mature enough to reach the light. Dr Simard also discovered that one species would use this network to assist and aid another species when it needed nutrients. In this case it was an evergreen fir tree, which fed a deciduous tree when it had food to spare. This cooperative community behaviour creates a healthy and resilient forest. We humans could take a leaf out of their book.
A human community in the north of Italy, Darmanhur, lives and breathes the understanding of the connectedness between nature and humans.
Since the 1970s, members of this community have been researching communication with the plant world. Recently they have developed an instrument that can transform the electromagnetic variations of the surface of the plants leaves and the roots in the soil to turn these variations into sounds. They call it ‘Music of the Plants’.
The instrument reads the electrical variations, which are then fed into a Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI), which can translate these impulses into sound.
The instrument has more than 100 different sounds through which the plant can express [itself]. Each plant, it seems, has a preference. At first the plants play the scales, seemingly practising and becoming comfortable with their newfound expression. Even the humble houseplant can be trained to play in harmony, and across Europe musicians are playing concerts with trained plants.
The first time you hear plants play you will almost certainly experience an epiphany. It is overwhelming when you realise that plants can interact with you through music.
These sounds confirm the connectedness and consciousness of nature. We can now have a personal connection with nature, which should inspire us all to understand that nature is an integral part of who we are.
This understanding and acceptance is finally filtering through to some governments in the world.
In 2007 the Swiss Government issued a bill of rights for plants: it amended the law to include the protection and dignity of all living things.
Nature given equal rights to humans
In 2008 Ecuador officially declared plants and ecosystems as having rights. The people of Ecuador voted to change their constitution to proclaim that nature has “the right to maintenance and regeneration of its vital cycles, structure, functions and evolutionary processes”.
Bolivia followed in 2010 and passed laws granting nature equal rights to humans.
Bolivia’s Law of Rights for Mother Earth reads: “Mother Earth has the right to exist, continue life cycles and be free from human alteration, the right to pure water and clean air, the right to equilibrium, the right not to be polluted or have cellular structures modified and the right not to be affected by development that could impact the balance of ecosystems.”
Plants are intrinsic to all life
The reality is that without plants we would have no air to breath, no food to eat, there would be no life on the planet. Plants are intrinsic to all life. We could even say that plants could teach us about living in harmony and being in the here and now.
Miranda Munro and Karl Akkerman are Co-founders of and the Kyela Vibrational Healing Centre, www.kyela.com.au