Get Your Hands Dirty! A Surprising Thing Soil and Breastfeeding Have in Common
By Jasmine Wood
Have you had a chance to get your hands dirty? Spring is the best time of year to break ground on new outdoor projects, gardening and landscaping alike. If you are like me, that first hint of warm sunshine sends the message to your brain, “time to shift gears” break out the rakes, shovels and grill, it is Spring!
That first touch of moist garden soil brings me to a sacred place, an ancient, yet familiar place. The place where many women who came before me, bent to hand and knee, placing their hands in the earth to grow food from seed.
Woman and mothers are the caregivers and nurturers to the children and family. She is also, historically, been the primary gardener in households around the world. It is no wonder I feel so at home in my garden with my little daughter tugging at my skirt seams, leaving paths of trodden freshly planted seedlings in her wake. Recent research in neuroscience has shown that when the brain detects the scent of humus (rich soil) it releases oxytocin!
Where else have I heard the word ‘oxytocin’? Oh yeah, that’s right, it is one of the primary hormones involved in childbirth, maternal bonding and lactation! Oxytocin is a hormone which plays a key role in the neuroanatomy of intimacy; intimacy with a lover, a child, and apparently the earth itself! We understand it is released immediately after a baby is born and causes everyone in the room to fall in love with the baby, especially mama. This makes sense in an evolutionary sense.
This new found knowledge linking the release of oxytocin in response to the smell of soil is revolutionary. It is a great argument for our deep physiological need to be close with nature! Although, this is a breakthrough in neuroscience it is very logical and easy to understand. I immediately understood this research to be true because I can “feel” it happening to me as I dig my hands down into the dirt year after year. Something magical takes place and I am transported to a peaceful world of contentment where time is no longer essential and all things are connected. When else have I been to this peaceful world? When breastfeeding my beautiful baby girl I, experienced it on a daily basis!
When we take the time to nurture life, we nourish a deep relationship for the creation of new life that is fundamentally sacred! I once wrote about SkyWoman, who tended the Earth with her bare hands and deep gratitude.
As you break ground this season may you feel the many blessings tending the Earth brings.
Till Next Time, Be Well!
Green Blessings to you and yours!