When I familiarized myself with the work and life path of Steve´s next interview guest Tigrilla Gardenia, the first word that came to my mind was “flamboyant”. It was just there, out of the blue, before I had even started listening. Tigrilla´s name resonated with me very much, and it reminded me of a beautiful plant, lavishly covered with flowers, like a blooming Bougainvillea. And there we are already – right in the midst of our topic!
That said, I have a confession to make. I got totally carried away by the insights that I gained from Tigrilla´s biography. Thus, a major part of this blog became what her journey taught me, while in the second part I focus on what we can learn from plant intelligence. I do hope that you enjoy both parts equally😊.
Looking back at the previous interview with Dr. Rich Blundell, the wisdom that Tigrilla shares during this conversation with Steve feels to me like the perfect continuation, as she also emphasizes strongly that, “we ARE nature”, and that, unfortunately, “we tend to forget this”. From my own perspective, this is such a fundamental truth that it cannot be told often enough, as living out of alignment with (our true) nature creates so many challenges for our health, our relationships, and our own personal happiness. Another commonality that Tigrilla and Rich share is that immersing themselves in the world of plants and surrounding themselves with them has had a such a profound effect that it changed their perception, their consciousness, their (art)work, their way of communication – in short: their whole lives!
Now, let´s get more specific: Who is this miraculous Cuban-American woman, who has found home in the fascinating eco-community of Damanhur in Italy, to pursue her scientific, artistic and spiritual work there? Are you already excited to meet Tigrilla, and to learn more about the amazing work that she does? I surely was! Let me introduce you to her and her journey.
When I feel into this subject, Tigrilla´s biography appears to me like her own majestic tree of life, which has spread its branches in many different directions, reaching far upwards and far into the width. Her life path is intriguing to say the least, as it includes such a broad range of seemingly contrasting fields of interest that she is passionate about. This is equally true for developing her creative side, e. g. by receiving training in music, dancing, acting, conscious artistic performances, for diving into the scientific foundation of things, such as electrical engineering or a masters degree in “Futuro Vegetale” (Vegetal Future): plants, social innovation, and design, and for diving deep into ancient wisdom, for example, within the teachings of Sacred Geometry or Kabbalah. As for a tree, the unfolding of her biographic journey has a lot to do with her roots: Tigrilla´s comes from a polyethnic background and spent her childhood in the Cuban music-filled streets of Miami, “embracing the best of both worlds” as she says. This provided her with the chance of being raised bilingually and of pursuing both of her surprisingly diverse main passions at the time at college – music engineering AND electrical engineering, which is quite a unique combination. Wow!
Surprisingly, among all the roles Tigrilla has taken on throughout her life, by now, she is, first and foremost, a lover and an admirer of the plant kingdom, of its amazing 470+ million years of wisdom and intelligence, and of the music that it has to offer us. (And yes! You have heard all of that correctly, and I promise you to dig deeper into the “The Music of the Plants” phenomenon shortly. Literally, stay tuned!) Yet, at first I was eager to find out: how did she get there?
And before I even became fully aware, there it was – my first big aha moment, and it completely caught me by surprise that it was barely inspired by the fascinating topic of plant intelligence, but mostly by Tigrilla herself: by the unfolding of her spiritual journey, her divinely guided life path, and by the courage she expressed to stay true to herself and to make decisions that have been rooted fully in alignment with her own integrity and her soul´s desires. Despite the variety of what seemed very diverse subjects, Tigrilla has never neglected any of her integral interests, but pursued her many passions entirely, experiencing life to the fullest. And even though a lot of us humans are waking up at this time and become more conscious, I believe that letting yourself be guided exclusively by your intuition, using it as your inner compass, and not by listening to the many expectations, opinions, and distractions outside of you, is a rare and very admirable quality in today´s fast-paced, digitalized world.
In doing so, Tigrilla´s portfolio of interests turned into what she describes on her website lovingly as a “STEAM” profile, which means embracing Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, (and) Mathematics altogether. Interestingly, we can find all elements of that in her trajectory. Just to give you a brief idea: Tigrilla´s career included climbing the corporate career ladder in the high-technology bubble of Seattle, while simultaneously developing and refining her skills in performing arts. After experiencing an extremely transformative, spiritual re-awakening, she decided to turn her back on corporate America, only to launch her own successful production company for music, fine art, and conscious performance events, even co-owning a circus at some point. In addition, her spiritual studies guided her to learn and teach Kabbalah and Sacred Geometry, before she toured with Circque du Soleil, that brought her to Europe. And the rest is history!
Divine wisdom finally led her to the Italian eco-community of Damanhur by a chance visit to reveal what has by now become her greatest passion – plant intelligence and plant communication. Does Tigrilla talk to plants? Yes, absolutely, and she strongly encourages us to do the same. Being fascinated by the plant kingdom, Tigrilla revealed that she soon realized that, “everything I had ever studied in my past – my music, my engineering, my spiritual studies – everything came together in this connection to nature, and, specifically for me, channelled through this connection to plants.”
Isn´t that beautiful? If everything falls into place almost effortlessly, like the pieces of a mystery puzzle, guiding you to your purpose. By today, she is also serves as a biomimicry facilitator, an (eco)systems design thinker, a nature inspired mentor, and leadership coach.
You might be asking yourself, why did I dedicate myself so intensely to Tigrilla´s biography?
Well, as I have already stated in the introductory paragraph, I did not plan this, it just happened! And, of course, this is related to some extent to my own biography. Coming from a cultural background that still values highly specialized technology experts, for example from the engineering field, still more than anything else, for me it is absolutely inspiring to witness a person who is living her truth, and her authenticity entirely, who embraces ALL of her talents and source-given gifts, and gives herself the gift of freedom to choose all of herself, and not only a fraction, just to fit into a box of societal expectations. By living her greatness, it feels like Tigrilla is encouraging all of us to do the same, to step into our power, and to embrace our truly unique, flamboyant selves without compromise. Tigrilla manages successfully what I believe many of us dream of: to integrate all our passions into one idiosyncratic skillset, to live a life of purpose and joy, and to shine our light, in short – to live and love fully.
And there is even more to it. I have always been fascinated by the miraculous way the universe works to guides us to our purpose, if we allow it to do so. Let me take Tigrilla again as an example, as a brave soul who has been courageous enough to listen exclusively to her intuitive guidance system, to her inner wisdom – just like plants do –, and who followed her heart´s desires by diving right into any subject that made her heart sing at the time being. And Tigrilla´s path unfolded almost naturally, and yes, it took some twists and turns, maybe even because of the integration of her many flourishing interests. However, in the end, everything unfolded perfectly, and what was planned as a visit for a few days has now turned into 11+ years in Damanhur, and a truly meaningful career.
For me, this is once more a sign that the wisdom of the universe is just mind-blowing. Life is always happening for us, not against us. However, it reminds me that there are at least two key ingredients that we need to bring to the table to reach our destination: first, the courage to listen to our innate wisdom and to act upon it no matter what, and, second, to trust the perfection of the process in its entirety. For me, this insight is profound, and Tigrilla´s path is a truly inspiring example of what kind of miracles are about to unfold, if you follow the true calling of your soul. In my view, it is so important to remember that there is no other being like every single one of us on this planet, and every single one of us has been placed here on purpose and for a purpose, so let´s discover and celebrate our essence, our authenticity, and our unique contributions on this earthly plane!
Alright! That said, I am now beyond excited to share some of the truly amazing things that I learned about plant wisdom and plant communication during the course of this conversation. The most intriguing questions in this context are: what can we learn from the world of plants to gain a different perspective on ourselves? How can connecting with plant wisdom bring us closer to our own true nature and to our purpose? Are you ready? Let´s dive right in!
Steve and Tigrilla start their interview by revealing what made her fall in love with plants – and again, it was music, yes PLANT MUSIC! Now, I don´t know about you, but I have to admit I had never heard about plant music before. So, I searched for it online and was simply blown away! It sounds so spheric, exquisite, and simply out of this world that it is surely one of my favorite reasons to immerse myself into this topic!
Describing herself as a person “that is musically oriented” and as music being “her language”, when Tigrilla discovered that the beautiful music that she heard on the streets of Damanhur was coming from a plant, it felt as if the plant (musician) was talking to her. Intuitively, it felt as if the plant was communicating with her through this music, letting her know what it experienced – what it felt! –through this music. This breathtaking encounter was only possible due to a bamboo device called “The Music of the Plants,” that had been developed in Damanhur for many, many years, and that translates the vibrations of plants into notes via two cables that are attached to the soil and to the leaves of the plants, so we can listen to their wonderful sounds. And this was it! Tigrilla got “infected” with plant music and joined the team that was just about to launch this device publicly and bring plant music to the world. She emphasizes that this “got her into everything related to plant intelligence,” as she wanted to understand HOW the plants were making this music, and to dig deep into the science, the art and the spiritual aspects that are connected to this form of communication.
Yet, this incident also made Tigrilla realize how little credit we as human beings give to plants for all they do for us and our planet, including herself at that time, and that we “do not see the actual impact of plants.” She calls this phenomenon plant blindness.
This simple truth really became another light bulb moment for me, as I suddenly realized that plant blindness had also applied to me! Yet, how could that possibly have happened? Plants provide the oxygen for us earthlings, thus, they enable us to take our next breath and to live! Period! Moreover, plants feed us and the animal kingdom not only in a literal sense. They nourish our bodies and souls in so many ways and their purpose is so massive and obvious. How can we even forget about their significance for one minute? I guess, because we have accepted it as a fact, as a normality, that we are always provided with enough oxygen to take our next breath, and this is how it has become taken for granted. Thus, we are not always conscious about the magnificence and the perfection with which mother earth has been created, and from this moment I intend to recall that more often and to be more grateful for it.
Let´s stick a bit longer to the role of music in relation to the wellbeing of plants, and also as a means of communication. Some of you might have known already that classical music has a positive impact on plants, for example, on grapes that produce the more sweetness the closer they are located to the speakers in the Mozart vineyard in Tuscany. Tigrilla also shared a mind-blowing story of a French company that is creating a type of pesticide by encoding music. How does that work? Tigrilla explained that, “they take the extract from what the plant needs as a natural pesticide and they convert this, using the aminoacids into notes of music and embed it into the actual music itself. So, that when they play music it accesses the pesticides of the plants.”
Wow! This technique sounds just incredible. Just imagine the positive impact for our whole environment, if natural pesticides that use music as “carrier molecule” would become the new norm. Honestly, I had no idea how far the research about plant wisdom has advanced since it beginnings maybe 15 years ago, when studies only started to recognize that plants have feelings and can sense danger, like the heat of an open flame.
And speaking of senses: Steve and Tigrilla also touch on the amazing abilities that plants have to perceive their environment. Referring to Tigrilla, when you start communicating with plants you can surely get the feeling that they can read your mind. Now, why is that? Did you know that that there is scientific evidence that plants have about 15(!) more senses than humans do? This means more than 20 senses in total! Tigrilla´s explanation totally makes sense to me: when you are rooted into place like plants are, the only way to survive is to fully understand your environment by using all of your senses. So, what can this observation teach us?
First, according to Tigrilla, the most important lesson that plants teach us is that that the best way to create a thriving life, to evolve, and to grow is to deal with everything, and to face things, because “when you don´t face them, you die.” Period! Obviously, if you are sessile, you simply cannot run away. And if you think that way, then procrastinating important decisions, as I often used to do for example, is not a viable option anymore, right?
Second, as we humans are a mirror of nature, because we ARE nature, we are most likely to have all of these senses as well, even if we might not even be aware of them or would not name them as such. When we connect more with plants, we will inevitably become more conscious of our own senses, talents, and abilities, and eventually of our purpose, which also means to become and feel more expansive, just like nature, and less limited by our humanity.
Third, connecting with the plant kingdom more frequently provides a lot of health benefits for us. Tigrilla emphasizes that just slowing down our breath while sitting with our house plant and allowing ourselves to open up to this vibrational connection, will be sufficient to slow down our heartrate, to increase our focus, and our cognitive abilities. We will feel more connected with ourselves, even though we are focusing exclusively on creating this bond with our plants. In addition, Tigrilla explained to us that if you choose to live close to places that have more green, “you are less likely to have depression” and you heal faster, thus, plants are a real health booster. I need to stress that the mere possibility of looking at natural green from your window is enough to create that effect, you do not even have to go outside and touch it. Isn´t that amazing?
Also, finding our own biological rhythm – just like plants do – and allowing ourselves to work along those lines, will increase our cognitive function, but most importantly it will make us feel better and, consequently, we will become more productive. Yet, in order to reap these benefits, we need to “start to give ourselves permission” to enter into that rhythm of natural light, natural sound, work, and sleep again, rather than letting our timing be dominated by business hours, and “to see nature all around us”, just like children do. I totally understand that this sounds challenging if you are employed in the corporate world. However, this insight was very enlightening to me, as Tigrilla stresses that we can experience nature everywhere if we allow and retrain ourselves to do so. We do not need to take a drive to the forest or to the beach. On the contrary, I learnt from Tigrilla that making simple changes with regard to colors, textures, and natural lighting, or adding natural beings like plants to office spaces and apartments will improve the health of the people who work and live there tremendously, as they are more in tune with their bodies, and feel naturally more fulfilled and happier. And because these minor changes will enhance productivity as well, this is also valuable finding for entrepreneurs to create a win-win-situation with their employees.
Another interesting teaching was to get to know more about the crisis management strategy of plants, which also sheds light on different aspects of purpose, community, relationships and competition. Firstly, Tigrilla and Steve take us back to the culture of the hunter-gatherers, who were very familiar with every single change in any relationship in their natural habitat. This inner knowing of “what their landscape was like”, provided them with a feeling of personal safety, a feeling, that we nowadays often do not have anymore – just think about the clutter in our homes! While a crisis in the hunter-gatherer community was related to one single aspect that had to be addressed, rather than to experience a type of crisis that felt all-encompassing, it was much easier to think about a tailor-made solution.
Let me provide you now with an example from the plant kingdom that Tigrilla used: When a plant gets attacked by pests, it deals with the immediate threat by sending a chemical signal up to the leaves that makes them taste bad, so that the parasites won´t kill the plant. After that, it produces airborne chemicals to alert all the plants around them, so that they can prepare themselves to protect their sensitive spots. How fascinating! I have to admit that I had never heard about this before.
There are a few interesting learnings for us humans that can be identified here: First, the plant knows precisely what it needs to do to tackle the problem. Second, it is maintaining good relationships with its neighbors and can count on a community of support, that is based on mutual trust and reciprocity. Wouldn´t that be nice if we could always rely on a community of support, too?
Hence, Tigrilla stresses that we can find some amazing parallels between plants and humans here: If you do some research on what it takes for humans to flourish, you will come across a sense of purpose, but you will also find a strong desire to feel connected to a community of peers, that you can co-create with and share resources. And yes, there are moments of competition in the plant kingdom, but they are very rare, as mostly “competition ends up in somebody getting hurt or dying”, and this is not desirable.
As you can see, plants have their own logic – nature has its own logic, a more ancient logic than ours. Nature is not interested in pushing someone down for the sake of competition, but it is interested in constant growth and evolution. And in order to grow, there needs to be an invite for an imbalance first, in order to be able to re-create balanced ecosystems on the next developmental level. In following through with this constant play of balance and imbalance, plants teach us to let go of judgements, to evaluate where we are at right in this moment and to see the “beauty, the utility, and the harmony” in things opening up for change via this imbalance, instead of staying stuck in an unfavorable situation forever.
Finally, Tigrilla and Steve close their conversation by exploring how plants can show us to make the world a better place, for example, by helping us to improve our connection with other human beings and to create better relationships. When we focus exclusively on the relationship that is being created and on what is happening in the present moment rather than to be misled by negative connotations or definitions that we have been taught in the past, we can make decisions in our relationships based on an unclouded analysis of the present moment. This helps us to connect more openly to the nature and all (human) beings outside of ourselves in order to connect to our true nature inside of ourselves. Isn´t this a very rewarding objective?
Petra Nikol is a Berlin-based writer and coach with a background in management science. One of her greatest passions is to uplift readers and listeners around the globe by spreading positive vibes. Petra loves dancing, travelling and any kind of adventure, yet her most favorite pastime is to connect with kind souls from all over the planet to learn, grow and heal together.