The Effects of Music on Plants

As I was reading through Tristan Gooley’s book How to Read Nature, I came across a section where he condemns the notion that plants can hear music and react to it.

I hate to be the one to bang a loud cymbal and smash these notions, but there is no scientific evidence of plants reacting to music or noise of any kind. None. They are deaf. If that saddens you, then feel free to let your emotions go; the sound of your weeping will not slow the growth of the forest.

So where does the notion that plants respond to certain music come from? Why is it that some studies indicate there is a connection between plants and music. And why is there so much anecdotal evidence that it’s true?

Perhaps the sounds of certain music puts us in a better mood. Our improved mood makes it more likely that we open the shades to let in more light. Maybe a musically enhanced attitude prompts us to care for our plants more so we feed and water them promptly and regularly. Or maybe we just notice the growth of our plants more when we’re in a good mood.

However, I won’t entirely discount the effects of music on plants. Plants might not be able to hear like we do. But even deaf people can sometimes “hear” music through the vibrations it makes in things around it.  Why couldn’t plants feel the vibrations of music and be stimulated to growth in a way they otherwise wouldn’t? Studies have shown that even extremely low vibrations of a certain frequency for a certain period of time can stimulate bone growth in humans. Shouldn’t we expect the same type of thing with other organisms?

I don’t know if plants respond to music. I’ll never hold it against someone for playing it to them though. Too often we allow the great and mighty entity known as science to dictate what we do or don’t do. And while science sometimes helps us understand the physical world, it doesn’t hold all the answers. So crank up the Mozart and watch your plants grow.  


Personal Growth By Avoiding Comfort

I watched a TEDx talk yesterday called Why Comfort will Ruin Your Life, by Bill Eckstrom. Bill’s central point was that only through the discomfort of complexity in our lives can we grow.

It got me thinking about my own life and  how many years I wasted seeking out comfort. Instead of achieving growth, I was largely stagnant. We seek out comfort because it feels good. Sometimes we seek it out because we fear the unknown and the unpredictable. In a comfortable state, everything is in order and can be anticipated. In a state of disorder, we don’t always know outcomes.

I remember once in college my professor encouraged us to take a summer internship that promised to teach certain technology skills that could lead to a high paying career. But out of fear, I didn’t even bother applying.

I was workng at a textile factory and using it to pay my way through school. I was afraid that if I gave it up, I wouldn’t have a job after the summer. In reality, the company probably would have been happy to bring me back. But even if they hadn’t, I would have found something else. It wasn’t the only job around. Or the internship might have led to a much better job.

I let the comfort of a low end job keep me from something much better. Looking back on my life I can identify other times when I actually chose stagnation over growth. But, instead of brooding over my past mistakes, I use these observations to challenge myself today, right now.

There’s nothing I can do about the past. And I can’t predict or control what happens in the future. But I do have influence over what I choose to do right now. I can choose to be comfortable and watch time pass. Or I can choose the road less traveled by, which might be longer and harder but will bring me to new places.

The great thing about only being able to influence the present is that if you fail to choose growth, You’ve only failed in that moment. The very next moment is like a life reset. That realization takes off a lot of pressure. You don’t have to look at your entire past and pick out the successes and failures. You only have to observe this moment and challenge yourself to complicate life for a moment for the sake of growth.