Trees, Bees, and your Vibrating Vata Nervous System

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A hydrophone was recently manoeuvred 90 feet underground to the roots of the 80,000 year old Pando aspen ‘ forest of one tree’ in Utah. According to sound artist Jeff Rice, it captured the sound of ‘millions of leaves in the forest vibrating the tree and passing down the branches..into the Earth’ (1). Our nervous systems are vibrating every moment in a similar way, even though we remain largely unaware of this automatic activity. And this means we’re musical beasts of sorts, as we like Pando, emit a constantly changing vibrational sound.

Pando, also known as ‘the trembling giant’, is thought to be ‘the largest and heaviest single living thing in the world’, being made up of 47,000 trees that are genetically identical, all ‘ originating from a single underground parent clone’, and covering 196 acres and weighing in at 5.9 million kgs (1). We too all originate from a single source – the five elements that form us, which means collectively, we are one giant trembling co-joined and musical nervous system.

We are also trees of sorts, with each of us containing more than 7 trillion nerves that vibrate and rustle constantly like the leaves on the Pando tree. If you’ve ever tried the yogic ‘humming bee’ breath, you’ll have experienced the feel of these vibrations, as they ricochet along your Vagus nerve deep within, connecting your brain to your belly, And this breath always feels wonderfully soothing, simply because it helps to balance Vata Dosha. This is because Vata, being comprised of the Air and Space elements, manages all movement in the body and mind, including every message sent within the nervous system. And as we take these bee like breaths, we slowly help to regulate and balance the flow and rhythm of these vibrational communications.

One of the most significant ‘ influencers’ on Vata that most of us seldom give a second thought to, is any information we take in through our senses. For it’s our 5 senses, that are constantly transmitting information to our nervous systems, that act as our key communication pathway to the outside world. This means any sensory stimulation, including every image you see and sound you hear etc, have the potential to either soothe or derail Vata. And when we make sensory choices that aggravate her, her immediate response is to switch our nervous system from the parasympathetic ‘rest and digest’ state, to the sympathetic ‘ flight, fright or freeze’ response, and it’s then that we begin to feel stressed and anxious. From Ayurveda’s perspective, stress is predominantly an imbalance in Vata Dosha, because when her movement is derailed in this way, it causes our thoughts to immediately start spiralling out of control. And given stress is one of the leading causative factors of many illnesses prevalent in the world today, it’s a state we do best to avoid if we want to enjoy a long and healthy life. Unfortunately for most of us, stress is a daily occurrence, and for many it’s a constant companion.

So what can you do to help Vata remain balanced and happy? As soon as you feel the beginnings of those wobbly thoughts, begin counteracting her Space and Air with more Earth, and just ‘be the tree’. Trees have deep roots, stay still, and are connected to the Earth. So, if you want to ‘be the tree’, do the same. Take time out to be still, and take a break from all your racing around. Connect in with the solidness and stability of Earth by going for a walk outdoors in nature, or simply by lying on the ground beneath you. Embed your days with the deep roots of a regular routine – Vata craves and loves this, as it helps the movement of her air to flow in a more measured way. And long-term, work on planting deep roots in every area of your life, as this will help you stop flapping in the breeze every time something unexpected happens, and help you stand firm in the eye of whatever life storm is challenging you. And if you do yoga, begin to practice the ‘tree pose’ asana, as there’s no better way than this to truly understand what it means to be a tree. You can also find many other great practical ideas in the list of Vata Soothers and Balancers on my website.

Scientists have said Pando is slowly dying, largely because humans are cutting down trees without allowing the area time to recover. And similarly, we’re allowing our life and vitality to slowly ebb away and becoming a humanity riddled with mental health issues, as we continually bombard our fragile nervous systems without giving them time to convalesce and recuperate. Trees make us feel safe, secure, steady, comforted and calm – that’s why forest bathing is so magical. And balanced Vata makes us feel much the same way. So listen and learn from the trees around you, and as much as practically possible, allow some pockets of time in your daily schedule to just ‘be the tree’.

KNOW YOUR DOSHAS

References:

(1) Daily Mail Science ‘ Listen to the eerie sounds coming from the world’s largest and oldest living organism’ by Stacy Liberatore 25/10/23 and ‘Largest Living Thing On Earth is dying’ by Phoebe Weston 18/10/18