A Piano in My Mind Garden?

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Are you intrigued by the way our minds work? That they work at all truly amazes me. But primarily, I’m fascinated by what is sometimes called a ‘train of thought’. Although, I have to admit mine is less a ‘train’ and more a crazy bumper-car ride in the mad side-show-alley of my inner life.

Perhaps it’s part of the ageing process, or maybe the fact that I have fewer distractions at this stage of my life, that determines why I can observe more closely what is actually going on in my mind. How one thought leads to another and bumps from one subject to the seemingly unrelated or improbable next, is mystifying.

Whatever the weird machinations, there is someone living in my head and when I sleep, she moves the furniture around.

So it was, I began to think about this week’s post, initially with a subject in mind when I went to sleep last evening, only to have it sidetracked by another when I awoke.

And it all began with daisies.

The Marguerite daisy or Argyranthemum Frutescens to be precise. These cheery little plants are at their bloomin’ best at the moment and I couldn’t go past the white pots on sale at the nursery. With last week’s photos of the four generations of family gardeners uppermost in mind, I was going to tell you about their favourite flowers and how they have influenced my preferences. Mum loved orchids, Nana’s favourite was the fragrant Daphne, and dear Grandma adored white daisies. Are you on-track with my train of thought here?

I was going to explore how memories reside in certain plants for me, evoking strong emotions and thus influencing my preferences for them. The fact that I am a gardener at all is due to these beloved women sharing their green thumbs with me from my early childhood.

I can close my eyes right at this moment and conjure the perfume of Daphne which then explodes into a myriad of childhood ‘Nana’ memories. I picture Nan picking the flowers and placing them beside my bed in a little crystal vase I still treasure because of this. Our olfactory sense is particularly evocative when it comes to triggering memories because of a direct line it has to the two parts of the brain processing emotion and memory – the amygdala and hippocampus.

A deep inhale of the daisies I’d bought switched thought-tracks and struck up a song in my mind. Can you believe the woman who lives in my head had brought in a piano? Nan was playing ‘Daisy daisy,  give me your answer do …’ In my mind’s eye I listened entranced as Mum and Dad sang along in duet.

But wait! In the bumper-car manner of my thinking, the idea to write about plant-imbued memories seems to have been high-jacked and I’ve focused on the thought processes of memory association instead.

Or have I?

Notice to the tenant up there in my head: leave the  @#*! furniture where it is or move out!

 

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Heavenly fragranced bloom of Daphne Odora – My Nan’s favourite

 

 

 

 

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44 responses to “A Piano in My Mind Garden?

    • The science supports this Denise, but so does my own experience. I imagine the scent of Pears soap and the happy bath-times it evokes. But even more recently, the aroma of pumpkin and ginger soup.Not just memories but also feelings. Maybe that’s why I like chocolate so much?

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      • I’m not good at imagining scents. When I read your post I tried imagining the scent of daphne – with poor results, even though I have a bush by my front door. But when I walk past the bush I’m reminded of other occasions when I’ve smelled daphne.

        When I was 3 or 4 we lived (briefly) in a house that had been painted with creosote (Sp?). A very evocative smell to this day.

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      • Usually strong memories of a scent are entwined with the emotions experienced at the time. I loved my nan and the daphne perfume always evokes fond memories of her.
        I wish I could grow daphne here but it’s not cold enough. Interesting that creosote should be significant for you. Are your memories of that house strong?

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      • Sounds like a good memory. Creosote isn’t an especially pleasant odour as I recall. From memory it sort of smells like tar doesn’t it? The happy day you had has obviously made some pleasant memory associations.

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      • It is an interesting topic, and one that I, too, have investigated from within, and out. I have been doing mindfulness meditation for almost two years now, where one focuses on ones own breathing, or a mantra, or a sentence, and just allows thoughts to go in and out, watching them without investing into them, as they come and go via our own personal intranet. I’m sure you know all about it.
        As you know, I studied psychology for a year; I am not so sure the brain is the only region that accommodates thought and memories. Psychology seems to be a very, um, ‘uptight’ (?) subject. I had some disagreements with lecturers; for example, “astrology is rubbish” but “the human soul is not”, and that “there is no scientific proof to support astrology”, yet “none is needed to believe in the soul”. Metaphysics is a subject I would like to know more about. There are too many things, visible or not, that we humans, in our limited capacity, can truly grasp. I think that there is a fine line between philosophy and knowledge.
        I have been doing a lot of experimentation into lucid dreaming. It is incredible stuff. One can awaken during a dream, then move back into the same dream, as well as somewhat control the dream’s direction, or content. This is done by positioning the body back into the same as it was when awoken. One can even get up and walk around and do things, but keeping the dream in short-term memory by consciously working through the events of the dream and thinking about them, investing in them. One can then lay back down in that same position, and think back into the dream.
        Is this, positioning of the body, a brain related manoeuvre or a body one? Or both? Is there a difference? There has been a lot of research into scanning the brain and studying stimulated areas. I wonder if anyone has done the same with body scans at the same time? Perhaps I should investigate this myself.
        These lucid dreaming experiments have been the reason for many sleep-ins, and the dreams have been joyous as well as harrowing, but all illuminating.
        Lucid dreaming is quite addictive.

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  1. Pingback: Lucid Liussi – S.Toivo.L·

    • How amazing Brenda that the coffee aroma should still be there. It’s a very evocative smell for a lot of people including me. It smells like payoff and comfort, and conversations with friends.

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  2. A lovely post Robyn. Flowers and scents and memories all intertwined. I have been thinking of my mother a lot since moving to the countryside and seeing all the wildflowers growing in the hedgerows (…and my garden!) and all the superstitions she associated with some of them.

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  3. It makes a lot of sense that the flower preferences of your beloved family members when you were growing up would influence your gardening tastes nowadays. Even if that turned out not to be the thing you chiefly focused on in the end, at least it was part of the thought process that eventually got you to a completed post. 🙂

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  4. I would take a different approach to the tenant in your head. I have one too and marvel at the way she shifts the furniture, making extraordinary links and connections, showing me things from different angles. I think she gets busier with age because she has more toys to play with. Lovely post!

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  5. So, the windmills of your mind are actually composed of room furnishings. HMMMMMMMMM???? Mine are more in line with cookie and cracker crumbs and blow around everywhere. If they made Rhombas (those little robotic vacuum cleaners) for the cerebellum, I would ask for one for Christmas. I must go backwards and read your last post. My mother loved gardenias and their scent brings her to mind no matter where I may catch it.

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    • Well, the filing cabinet up there holds the memories. I often have to shuffle through to find the right one. But sometimes the woman in my head moves the whole cabinet! But then when she shifts the easy chair of perspectives I often like the different view.
      Now, about those cookie crumbs …
      You may have to think of something other than a cerebral Rhomba. The noise will drive you mad! Thanks for visiting Clare.

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  6. Thinking?🤔 What’s that? The older I get the more chaotic are my thoughts. There literally are days I don’t know if I’m coming or going🤣. During those serious times of reflection I do marvel at the capabilities of the brain and all it does to keep us functioning. Great post Robyn!

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