“Don’t cut your trees, because the trees are the lungs of the earth. “
-Milda Sebris , a resident at Ellen Memorial Health Care Center, turned 100 on 1/26/11.
To breathe is to live embodied. Without this exquisite process going on day after day, year after year, moment after moment we would not be functional – we would not be alive! Trees help the planet breathe by turning carbon dioxide into clean, pure oxygen. Plants are considered the lungs of the earth because plants produce oxygen, which is necessary for all life, so in essence, since our lungs keep us alive and trees keep our lungs alive we can consider trees to be a part of our lungs existence. This is all part of the deep interconnectedness of all life.
Our lungs are quite amazing actually. Did you know that there are about 300 million alveoli in the adult lung. The alveolar sacs consist of many alveoli and are composed of a single layer of epithelial tissue. If these alveoli were pressed flat and spread out they would take up the space of a football field. That is, a football field (including the two end zones) is 360 feet long and 160 feet wide for a total of 57,600 square feet!
The alveoli are considered the functional or foundational unit of the lung. In the spaces between the alveoli of the lungs is elastic connective tissue which is important for exhalation. It is here, surrounded by pulmonary capillaries, that gases are exchanged and we are enlivened with every inhale and exhale that we take.
“Each alveolus is lined with a thin layer of tissue fluid, which is essential for the diffusion of gases, because a gas must dissolve in a liquid in order to enter or leave a cell. This is called the “earthworm principle”. An earthworm will breathe through it’s moist skin and suffocate if it’s skin dries out.
The inner walls of the alveoli are covered with a lipid material known as surfactant. This surfactant helps to stabilize the alveoli preventing their collapse. Absence of surfactant would be similar to a plastic bag that is wet on the inside. It’s walls would stick together and not allow for complete expansion.”
This biological process goes on moment after moment for the entirety of our lives, yet in order to breathe fully we need the support of the natural world around us. As this world is tampered with by humans, the planet lets us know we are off balance with global climate change and other dramatic signs of imbalance. Just as if we tampered with the alveoli of our lungs by unhealthy practices that caused disease and imbalance in our systems.
Our Earth is like the alveoli of the lungs – if she dries out she will suffocate. Without the stabilization of the natural order of things there will be no expansion, no breath, no life – no Breathing Spaces.
Could it be that we need to pay closer attention to the smallest and most foundational parts of our Earth’s processes, and our own, before we tackle the larger things? Take yourself out into Nature this week and breathe.
Sergey Melnikoff – Breathing Nature – Selective Shots
Music by Zaza Marjanishvili, Produced by MediaGrail
OTHER BLOGS BY GAYE ABBOTT: www.WildlyFreeWoman.com
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