Do you think of the arrival of spring as an inhale or an exhale?
That was the question posed to our yoga class today as we looked out over the Yampa river from the studio. I love looking at the running water, snow-capped mountains and just beginning to bud cottonwood trees while I’m stretching. There is ample evidence that spending time in nature is a healthy practice. We’ve talked about terms like Shinrin-yoku the Japanese term for “forest bathing”. While countless research studies have explored and confirmed a strong connection between the time we spend in nature and our well-being, there is also strong evidence that to the extent we can see nature from inside or bring nature indoors, we also benefit.
The ability of natural elements to make us feel calm, welcome and at peace in an interior setting is something that most of us feel inherently. Though E. O. Wilson is often credited with the concept of biophilia, it is the work of Stephen Kellert that has translated this to a more understandable and usable design framework. Kellert’s work established 14 concepts that bring health and wellness into the built world. Some of these are obvious such as the bringing in more outdoor light or greenery to those less obvious such as using natural patterns or displaying the internal structure of a building or room.
This gorgeous ficus bonsai is a new resident in my home. The ancient art of bonsai fits well within the principles of biophilic design. It is a Japanese word which, literally translated, means “planted in a container”. This horticultural practice was developed over a thousand years ago under the influence of Zen Buddhism. The goal of Bonsai creators is to create a miniature representation of nature. Four themes play an essential role in the art of bonsai.
The first is simplicity, which epitomizes Japanese art and architecture. Built upon the premise that less is more, bonsai is symbolized by the simple unadorned container which holds the horticultural art.
Bonsai is designed on a triangle – the symbol of balance. But instead of using the symmetrical Western equilateral triangle, bonsai is built upon the rule of the isosceles triangle with its unequal sides. This lends more of a natural sense of balance and is valued in Japanese culture.
The theme of harmony is visible within the bonsai composition. The texture and shapes contribute to the overall sense of harmony found in nature, which is the dominant element in bonsai.
Finally, the theme of age plays a role in bonsai. The tree roots, trunk, and branches all symbolize varying stages of life. The thick, luscious green growth of my tree reminds me of the vitality of youth.
The presence of nature in my home allows me and my family to find calm in the midst of our busy lives. It also cleans the air and helps to maintain harmonious thoughts. I hope that spring time finds you amidst simplicity, balance, and harmony at every age. If you are interested in owning your own bonsai, check out the options here.
It is the first day of spring. Today, daylight is equivalent to our nighttime. Is it an exhale or an inhale? What do you think?