Category Archives: The Garden Theory

How Physics Relates to Mental Health

At the center of nature (including human nature) there is a metaphorical balance similar in structure to a conceptual model based on quantum physics.  Whoa!  Back up! I realize this sounds a bit deep, but actually, it’s pretty straightforward.


We are brought into existence through incomprehensible powers that seek to follow harmony and balance, as do laws of physics.  According to Abraham Maslow, Carl Roger and other great philosophers, all organisms have an innate tendency to self-actualize as represented in an acorn metaphor (garden theory).

In a healthy environment the acorn will naturally develop into its original intention – an oak tree.  Okay, so everyone knows that.  But think about it.  All life follows a set of rules coded into the core of existence that prosper in balance and harmony.

Humans are no exception.  We are born into this world with an interconnected complex system of established traits originating from a balance of positive and negative qualities.

Remember yin and yang?


It’s the philosophical concept that describes how opposing forces are actually complementary and interconnected. Each force pushes against the other, simultaneously strengthening the other (did you see my post about the bike wheel?).  There are as many tangible dualities (light and dark, hot and cold, fire and water, life and death, male and female, night and day, inhaling and exhaling, positive and negative, and so on) as there are elements in the universe.

In returning to the acorn metaphor, while it is possible to examine and facilitate the growth process, the exact force behind the development of an oak tree is unknown.  Just as in human nature and development, it is necessary to relinquish a certain amount of control for healthy growth and self-actualization.

Healthy development exists in an environment of balance between internal and external forces.  Just as in a bike wheel, the wheel must be in balance in order to rotate around the axle.  The internal forces through the spokes must be strong enough to withstand the external forces pushing back against the perimeter of the wheel and the axle must be exactly centered.

Now, apply this image to a three dimensional model on any level of the quantum physics continuum from a molecular level with protons and electrons orbiting around a nucleus, or a cellular structure of any living organism, to the level of the solar system. This oversimplified concept provides a metaphorical model of balance in nature.

Diagram of an atom. Diagram of a cell. solarsystem
A.  Model of an atom showing protons and electrons orbiting a nucleus. B.  Basic cell structure representing cytoplasm at the nucleus. C.  Diagram of the solar system showing planets in orbit around the sun.

Getting back to the acorn.  If you’re interested in the specifics of the development of an acorn and its manifestation into an oak tree there’s plenty of research out there.  It basically involves opposing forces (male/female, push/pull, etc) not unlike everything else.

Basically, we are all made up of opposing forces, we live in a world of opposing forces, and we thrive in balance and harmony.  That means the acceptance of both and not living in the extremities.

“…relapse is the inevitable result of the gradual onset of disequilibrium which is not immediately recognized and corrected through deliberate mindfulness and requisite action.”  -Kent Grahm

Simplicity of an acorn

Garden Theory in a Nut Shell (or an Acorn)

Garden Theory in a Nut Shell (or an Acorn)


One of the most influential thinkers at the forefront of the psychological movement, Carl Rogers, said: “The organism has one basic tendency and striving – to actualize, maintain, and enhance the experiencing organism” (Rogers, 1951).

Rogers compared self-actualization to an acorn.


Given the right environmental conditions,
an acorn will manifest into an oak tree.


To self-actualize is to realize the highest level of our natural potential.
The same goes for flowers, plants, gardens, and well, just about every living element.

Imagine a garden of flowers in full bloom, its beauty and scents abundantly expressed at its highest level.


In fact, it doesn’t even have to be a garden.  It may be happenstance that a bed of flowers bloom and thrive.  I’ve seen flowers grow in the cracks of sidewalks or in the middle of a dirt patch.


There are two forces at play here.  One, the external force of the environment, which is where Roger’s theory comes in, and two, the natural internal force and drive of the flower itself.  What drives that flower to grow?  Think about it.  There has to be something there, because it’s not all just dirt and water making that happen.


All living elements have that same internal force.  ‘Collective unconsciousness’ is a term coined by ‘Carl Jung’, another great philosopher, meaning the universal datum at the center of every human being.  It is not something that can be learned or practiced. It is innate.  Jung referenced something higher and unexplainable. in terms of this universal datum, suggesting that ‘God’ is expressed through the experience of the realization of wholeness.  So, like flowers and acorns, people too, are meant to flourish and reach their full potential for the expression of that greater force.

Are you still here?  That’s pretty deep stuff, but stay with me.  I promise it makes sense.  I’ll break it down into tangible examples.  It is really simple, as simple as a flower.  That’s fairly simple – isn’t it?