I love the psychedelic patterns of fractals. Their repetitiveness draws your awareness into a kind of hypnotic state, it’s hard to look away. But just what is a fractal and why are they important?
Simply put, a fractal is a pattern that repeats itself at different scales. Consider Russian Dolls and how they fit nested inside one another. It is this ability to scale something from the very small to the very big using a self-repeating pattern that fits inside itself that makes a fractal. Fractals are the mechanism through which our universe manifests itself and so they are found everywhere.
Our lungs branch out in the same manner as trees grow or rivers flow or as our neurons make connections or even lightning. The ancient study of reflexology recognizes the fractal make-up of our bodies as the foot, hand, ear, or eye are reflections of the whole body and can be used to therapeutically treat imbalances in one’s health. You can see these self-repeating patterns in clouds, flowers, leaves, roots, seashells, rivers, music, history, and even the stock market; they are ubiquitous.
Dr. Benoit Mandlebrot, a twentieth-century self-taught polymath, is credited for discovering the branch of geometry he named ‘fractal geometry’. He provided simple mathematical formulas for rough or irregular shapes such as mountains, coastlines, and rivers. His work has helped science open the door to a very new way of looking at ourselves and our world. Instead of thinking that we are separate and individual from one another, we find that we all exist within the self-organizing principles of fractals. Because fractals nest inside one another, each contains all the information from the others. In other words, to put it very simply and to confirm what ancient sages have told us for millennia, we are all connected.
Fractals are mesmerizing to look at because they represent a sacred sense of order. They remind us that we are part of a bigger whole and yet made from smaller, self-similar pieces. Next time you see one, contemplate the beautiful significance of the fractal.