Biophilia by James Freeman
Updated: Mar 4
Hands up who knows what this title is about? I’m sensing only the hands of 3 Björk fans. Maybe those same 3 who bought the world's first app-album in 2011 entitled ‘Biophilia’. Still not following?
I don’t blame you; this is definitely not a music blog.
I had no idea what Biophilia meant back in 2011 when Björk’s album came out. Even in 2011, I was only just starting to be consciously aware of how much I enjoyed my formative years spent in woodlands.
Since a young age I’d spent school holidays building dens and until recently; bike jumps. I was obsessed with both activities as I continued to explore various woodlands across Wirral, Liverpool and Cheshire.
During these years I learnt to take time out exploring and enjoying my surroundings. Only now do I draw comparisons of those days with my current love of houseplants and the outdoors.
I’m sharing this with you as that’s what Biophilia is. The reason beaches, mountains and forests are such a powerful magnet to us is that Philias are the opposite of phobias. They’re the attractions and positive feelings that people have toward plants, animal habitats and the many processes that govern our natural surroundings. Biophilia, simply put, is a love of all life forms.
Our desire for indoor and outdoor foliage is something we can all nurture and share. While some of us may just be interested in houseplants, I assure you that if you can visit one of our local plant collections, like Sefton parks iconic glasshouse or Ness botanical gardens (where I study), these places can help embed and further our connections with nature.
It’s only recently that we finally have large institutions like the NHS prescribing time outdoors or gardening itself as a therapeutic treatment. Cue a mention of Shinrin-yoku, the Japanese art of forest bathing.
Social prescribing is something that has helped me no end. Even indoors, I find cleaning my houseplants or just observing the way they grow towards the light, very calming. It definitely helps quiet my unceasing internal monologue. Paintings of landscapes and botanical illustrations calm my mind too. The simple act of noticing a plant growing from a tall drain or nook in the wall makes me think about the differing scales nature operates on, the giant to the small, all growing with or without us.
Watching the clouds float by during these crisp winter days, raises my mind far from the demands of my own thoughts (and worse still the never-ending stack of bills). Those nooks help me focus in on that tiny microenvironment sustained there, making the world seem smaller and easier to fathom, far from the reality of its uncontrollable vastness. Somewhere I can find the familiar in a world I often find unusual.
To talk about Biophilia is to share my passion for nature and to help others nurture their own. Our natural love of life, in turn, sustains it.