The Mulberry Lamp

Getting a good night’s sleep—in harmony with the sun’s cycles—is a central part of coming home to nature. But many of us technology-driven folks find it challenging to turn off our devices and lower the lights as bedtime approaches, allowing our bodies to gently relax toward peaceful sleep. I enjoy every trick I find that makes the transition pleasurable.

Enter the mulberry lamp. I never thought a lamp could change my life. I didn’t even go looking for this lamp. But one day, during a stressful time in my life a few years ago, I was strolling down the main street of a charming little town when I felt drawn to go into a particular shop.

The shop was full of colorful clothing, beautiful handcrafts, and unusual household items. Along one wall was a display of handmade table lamps with plant-based paper shades in beautiful wooden frames. Each lamp’s paper shade was made from a different plant, each giving off its own color of light.

I was enchanted by one lamp with a creamy-colored paper of mulberry leaves. I bought it and took it home, imagining how cozy it would make my bedroom feel.

First, I had to choose the right light bulb. I could have used up to 100 watts, but that seemed out of keeping with the relaxing, nourishing feeling I wanted in my bedroom. I installed a 15-watt bulb and placed the lamp on a bedroom cabinet where its light shone gently on my favorite houseplants and colorful silk scarves.

That evening I turned off my bedroom’s overhead light and reading lamp and sat on my cozy wool bed, wrapped in my wool comforter, with the room lit by the warm radiance of the mulberry lamp. My breathing slowed. My mind eased. My heart began to glow in harmony with the lamp. I had never felt so soothed, so nurtured by lighting.

As I basked in this warm glow, I realized that my life had been entirely too active and focused to even consider such self-indulgent lighting. One needs bright light to do one’s work! But here I was, feeling the tension melt away as this loving light worked its magic on me. The mulberry lamp gave me just enough light to see by—I could identify each item in the room—but everything was in soft focus. Nothing yelled at me to do something about it. I truly felt peaceful and held.

As I pondered this miracle, I realized that the light of the mulberry lamp fits perfectly with my advice to others: Light is a stimulant; our bodies need low light levels before bedtime to help us unwind, relax, and fall easily to sleep. I’d been meaning to find a way to step down my light exposure before bedtime, thinking it might involve candles or oil lamps—but those carry their own air-quality problems. So who knew that my vague intention would lead the right lamp to find me?

I still spend time each evening just sitting in my bedroom by the light of the mulberry lamp. I still marvel at its profound effect on me. This lamp is beauty, it’s self-love, it honors my natural rhythms. Sometimes one small change can be profoundly healing.

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Comments

  1. Mark Darrall says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Carol! It’s great that you were able to bridge the gap between the quality of light and air. I’m sure the color temperature of the light, in addition to the low light level, have everything to do with how this works.

    Daylight is something like 6,000K – and as you note IS a stimulant, so this soft warm yellow glow – maybe 2,500K? reduces the stimulant effect.

    I wonder if someone has studied this scientifically – hooked someone up to an EEG while exposed to light of varying color temperature. I’ll have to look this up!

    We know that occupants in daylit buildings are more productive, even at reduced illumination levels. so I’m thinking there’s something to the idea of the stimulant effect of color temperature.

    And, BTW, in case any reader thinks the glow of a TV set will have the same effect as your lamp – it won’t. Between the refreshing of the screen (60-240Hz depending on the TV) and the natural changes of the scenes themselves, TV may as well be a strobe light flashing into your eyes. Not really very relaxing. Sorry.

    Thanks again, Carol!

    • You are so right, Mark! Thanks for adding the information about color temperature; I’ll expand on that in a future post. Do let us know if you find any research on this! What I’ve found is that “high noon” light–very bright and on the cool/bluish side–is the most stimulating. That makes sense, because in the middle of the day we want to be active and productive. The low-level, warmer-colored light of early morning and late evening are more relaxing–like my mulberry lamp. Unfortunately, most electronic devices that we love to use late at night (TV, computer, smart phone, iPad) put out high-noon light. Not good for insomniacs! The good news is that it’s pretty easy (at least in theory) to experiment by not using electronic devices with screens for an hour or two before bed (see my blog post Body Rhythm, Planetary Rhythm).

  2. Arianna Mitchell says:

    Loved the article, Carol, and the photo of your lamp. Any chance you could list the contact info for the store from which you purchased it? I’d love to have something similar in my bedroom. :-) I’m new to your website. Love it!! Thanks, Arianna Mitchell

    • Hi Arianna,
      Welcome to Come Home to Nature, and I’m glad you like the lamp! I bought it at a bricks-and-mortar store in Sebastopol, CA (USA), called Silk Moon (http://www.silkmoon.org/). They had several other colors and a variety of leaves in the paper shades, too. I’d love to get a whole collection!
      Carol

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