Words by Blanka Priddle
I am always encouraging you to make little tweaks to how you go through your day to help you feel better, to have more energy and to enjoy your life. Today, I am taking it outside of your body, outside of your diet and self-care rituals, and I’m inviting you to invite nature indoors.
When I grew up, I was always surrounded by plants inside our apartment, as my Mum loves plants, and so we had many. I can’t say that I enjoyed watering them, as my Mum was rather particular about the task, but they were part of the landscape of my childhood. Later in life, when I moved into my first tiny apartment in Prague, plants were one of the first things that moved in with me. I had to buy extra shelves specifically for the purpose of holding plant pots full of tumbling greenery, leaves draping alongside my wardrobe and filling any available space.
I started talking to them while watering them, if I saw they were making a flower, if a new leaf popped up, or apologising to them when I was not taking proper care of them and they looked droopy.
These days, in our house n London, I have once again managed to fill our home with plants. And I still talk to them! They seem to have a life of their own, a couple of plants are so happy they are pretty much taking over one corner of the living space. As I was considering this article, I was looking at a particularly huge one, almost four metres high (we live in a tall house), sprouting new branches in every possible direction, and I thought how weird it would be to have just the white wall behind it!
Plants make a house a home
A home without plants would – for me – not really be a home. I love the energy they bring into the room, making it feel more alive; to me, they have a certain ‘presence’. But indoor plants are not just wonderful aesthetic additions to the room – they are much more powerful than that.
Originating in warm, frost free climates, they started to make their way indoors around 17th century, when people built special glasshouses for them. These days we benefit more from having plants all around our homes, as they have the ability to clean toxins from the air.
Plants tackle the airborne chemicals in our homes
Did you know that studies show that the air quality, even in busy cities, is worse indoors than outdoors? I was surprised when I first heard this, but once you start educating yourself about all the chemicals constantly emanating from our furniture, wall paint, mattresses and even flooring you come to realise just how polluted our homes are.
Unless you use only pure, natural and untreated materials in your home, you realise that this invisible threat to our wellbeing inside our own homes is very real, as stated in this NASA study on the subject. Its results suggest that, “in addition to absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen through photosynthesis, certain common indoor plants may also provide a natural way of removing toxic agents such as benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene from the air.”
Start your own indoor garden
For some people the idea of keeping plants brings up worries about taking care of them, making sure that they survive, adding yet another task on the never-ending list of things to do. But, you could choose to look at it another way – generally most plants only need to be watered about once a week, and you can make the process into a mindful moment for yourself. You could get a fancy plant mister and spend a few minutes connecting with your new additions to the household when you come home from work, using this time to let go of your day, let your eyes - tired from the long hours spent looking at a computer screen - rest on the green leaves you are misting.
Your smaller plants will love a shower once a year or so, to wash any accumulated dust from their leaves, and afterwards they will shine with renewed vigour. There is something uplifting about seeing your bathtub full of green foliage, pearls of water glistening; you can feel yourself transported to a juicy rainforest, even if only for a brief moment!
You can tell your plants anything, they will never judge you, they are always on your side, and they will repay the time you spend caring for them multiple times over!
If you do not know where to start, as with everything else in today’s world – ask the internet. You can search for plants that are easy to grow, or the best ones for removing toxins if you think that your indoor air quality may be very poor. If you love flowers, you may look up when different plants come into bloom, choosing them so that you have flowers somewhere in your home most of the year around. You could start a cactus garden on your windowsill, an indoor display of crazily shaped succulents, or get a small money plant to sit next to your computer, bringing the energy of abundance into the space where you work. If you have a window in your bathroom, you can have plants here also, they will love the high humidity. The world of plants is so rich, there are so many shapes, sizes and varieties that we can all find the ones we will love. If you have a cat or a dog, make sure to search for plants that are safe for your furry family members - there are many.
So why not invite plants into your home.? To clean your air, to lift your spirits, to provide an anchor for your daily dose of mindfulness practice. For fun. For you.
I will leave you with a story…
I’m a keen traveller, and on my journeys I love seeing the plants I have at home growing in their natural environments. Often, they grow on the floors of forests, where the humidity is just perfect for them, and the sunlight filtering through the foliage of the taller trees tickles their leaves with the perfect amount of light.
They grow alongside streams, and also in deep deserts. You can dine under the canopy of huge Ficus trees when you visit the old ruins in Chichen Itza in Mexico, and you can even taste their fruit in the countries where they grow outside!
My most curious experience was with a Monstera Deliciosa, or a Swiss cheese plant. Having seen it growing freely outdoors in Western Australia, Singapore and other warm humid places, often with long pinecone like pods hanging down from the branches, I recognised the fruit when I saw it in the market in Madeira. I love tasting new fruit, so of course I had to buy one. However, its hard unyielding surface left me guessing as to how to get in and I left it sitting on a table overnight. The next morning we woke up to a heavenly exotic smell in the room, with no clue where this was coming from. And then we found the fruit which ripened and cracked open during the night in the warm room!
The second part of the name of the plant – Deliciosa – is rightly given, as the taste was something like a mix of pineapple and banana with a touch of cream, but oh-so-much better. If you ever get a chance to eat this fruit, I encourage you to try it!
Blanka has been passionately learning about all things natural and alternative since her teens and has been on this exploring journey for almost three decades now. She discoved essential oils back in the 90s, fell in love with raw living foods in the noughties, and played with many other things in between. She is a Kundalini as well as Hatha yoga teacher, enjoys cooking, makes her own beauty products, and is always on a quest to find the best coffee in town.
Originally from the Czech Republic, she now lives with her Husband and a cat called Chloupek in SE London, where she teaches from her cosy yoga studio.
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