Heart

Through New Eyes

I was recently driving with one of my students. It was a gorgeous morning with a light fog, the sun was rising, illuminating the golden fields of Corn. He was busy taking pictures of the Corn and the houses and the countryside, while I drove. It has been an interesting experience to spend time with him over the past 6 months. He is from a city in Canada and the Landscape around here is quite foreign to him. Upon arriving in July, he asked, “Was the Corn that high last month?!” I had to laugh and say, “No, Corn grows.”

What a gift to see my Home through new eyes. I am encouraged to be wowed by the fields and the houses I normally drive by. Don’t get me wrong, I Love this area. I have favorite places and Trees that I greet whenever I drive by. Sometimes I go a longer way, just so I can see them. I tend to find Beauty everywhere and am known to fall to my knees in gratitude and awe at the sight of a particular Plant friend or maybe watch in wonder as a trail of Ants carry a ridiculous load.

That being said, spending this time with my student, showed me how I have normalized my surroundings. I don’t understand why, but this seems to be human nature. We see the common as ignorable while the exotic (and what is exotic depends on where you live) as magical, praise worthy, and worth more.

This is something we see often in our society. From the dismissal and even poisoning of some of our most powerful medicines because they grow in our yards. To the wandering eyes of people in long term relationships mesmerized by someone other than their partner. To the dreams of vacations or romanticizing other areas of the world. To the fascination of dieting with entheogens from foreign lands (like Ayahuasca) while ignoring the common, non-psychotropic Plants who can give us just as much, if not more insight and healing. [See the Elder Sacred Plant Initiation]

What this does is creates an endless cycle of more, more. Always looking for something else, often to fill a void, which these only temporarily do. I think we can look around and see how this desire for more plays out in our culture and what the consequences of this paradigm is.

As my student was gawking at our surroundings, he reminded me of innocent perception. Which ironically is one of the first tools I teach in the HEARTransformation Apprenticeship and Plant Communication classes. Innocent perception is the ability to see the world with new eyes, as if this is the first time we are seeing something.

In Plant communication, this allows us to go deeper and deeper with a Plant. So that when we are sitting with Dandelion for the 100th time, we meet ki with the wisdom and knowledge from the previous 99 times AND look at Dandelion as if this is the first. This is very different than going up to Dandelion and thinking “I know you.” When we think we know all about something or someone, we close the doors. We lock them into a box and we often miss the most magical components. Because let’s face it, no one reveals their true magic at the first meeting.

When we are able to greet our daily surroundings (including the people) with innocent perception, we open the doorways of magic. We keep the relationship alive. From this place, appreciation naturally flows. Appreciation is a power tool for our Hearts. According to The HeartMath Solution written by Doc Childre and Howard Martin:

"You can be confident that as you focus on sincere feelings of appreciation, your nervous system will naturally come into balance. Biologically, all of the systems in your body, including your brain, will work in greater harmony. The electromagnetic field radiating from your body will resonate with the ordered, coherent pattern emitted by your heart. And every cell in your system will benefit.

With your body in an improved state of balance, you’ll start to feel better emotionally—and it’s no wonder. Just as appreciation causes the jagged heart rhythms on the graph to relax into an even flow, so your thoughts and feelings begin to interact more smoothly.

Appreciation has a way of smoothing out life’s lumps and bumps. It puts things into perspective, reducing the heaviness and density of stressful thoughts and feelings.”

How do we do this? It’s actually fairly simple, though it is easier to do when things are going well. So that’s a good time to practice and get comfortable with these skills. Then when you think you are having a day from hell or you’re in an argument with your partner, it becomes easier to access innocent perception and appreciation.

For innocent perception, this is mostly choosing to see something with new eyes. Which may mean looking from a different perspective. In Plant communication, we use a loupe to reveal the wonders that our naked eyes often miss. Mostly, this is about attention. Taking the time to really see. Look closely at the creases on your Lover’s face and admire the experiences that brought them. Maybe imagine you are in a coffee shop, when you spot her across the way. What do you notice? In a natural environment, spend time in Nature. Take the time to sit, be still, and simply observe. Or maybe take a photo every day or every hour of a Plant growing.

I know we often are in a rush and can easily dismiss this as not having the time. I think the more we are rushing around, the more important it is that we pause and activate innocent perception. Plus, while it is lovely to spend a good length of time watching Nature, we can be utilizing innocent perception in our daily lives. Like I was doing as I was driving. My teacher, Rocio Alarcón, would say that I was going under the trance of Corn. And I was. Tears were coming to my eyes as I saw the fields glowing. I was seeing each Plant as a prayer for our Mother Earth. Yes, this was GMO Corn; however, you cannot remove the Sacred from Corn Mother.

One of my favorite reminders of innocent perception is the work of Louie Schwartzberg. He uses photography to bring the unseen World of Nature to life. You can see his video on Pollinators here.

Again, I think if we are able to utilize innocent perception, appreciation naturally flows. However, it is helpful to cultivate appreciation. We do this by simply noticing and listing what we appreciate, what we are grateful for. It is a really beautiful thing to share what you appreciate about your Loved ones with them. Or even near strangers. It is amazing how someone lights up when you show appreciation.

I know these seem simple, trust me, they are powerful. Innocent perception and appreciation have the capability of turning the mundane into the extraordinary. Imagine living your life as if you were surrounded by Beauty and Wonder. We are. It is simply a matter of perspective.

Motherwort Part 2: Balancing the Masculine and Feminine

I wrote about Motherwort several months ago. Motherwort is one of the Plants that I have been working/playing with for my Plant Spirit Healing Apprenticeship. The more time I share with her, the deeper our relationship grows, and the more I learn. I have always thought that she is a wonderful and rich plant with so many uses. I mentioned earlier that I use the Flower Essence to help with boundaries, to express things that need to be said, to help with Anxiety and bring one back to the center, and to help discern what the real issues are.

Motherwort is a Heart protector. She also helps women going through menopause/peri-menopause, among many other gifts.

What she recently taught me is that she is a great balancer. Motherwort is particularly helpful to balance Masculine/Feminine. So for women (and men) whose feminine/nurturing sides are too strong, she can help you stand up for yourself and be strong. For men (and women) whose masculine sides are too strong, she can help you soften and be more nurturing. (I should mention that since Motherwort is an excellent Heart Plant, she helps to bring this balance with Heart energy.) To me, this is her most important gift and why I believe she is so important now.

We all know that our world is changing and our world needs to change. One of the major areas of change is to bring more feminine energy into our society. I’m not saying that women are better than men. But, for too long, we have lived in a male-dominated warring, destructive, constrictive society, which has not served anyone: not Nature, not women, not children, and definitely not men.

It is time that the patriarchy paradigm shifts and we bring the Feminine energy, so that there is balance. I believe that Motherwort can help us do this.

You might ask, How? Well, first of all, for those of you who have space, Plant her. Now, know that she is generous in all aspects, so she does spread. If you can, sit with her, spend time with her, dream with her, love her. Get to know her. If you are feeling out of balance, call on her. She recommended that I infuse Honey with her. Motherwort is bitter; therefore, the sweetness of the honey will help to add to her balancing effect. Yes, you can take her Flower Essence, Tincture, and tea. Of course, while you spend time with her, recognize the areas of your life that need balancing.

Thanksgiving, Gratitude, Abundance and Manifestation

Thanksgiving Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  I love gathering with my family, consuming large amounts of delicious food, and expressing my gratitude for the many gifts.  When I was young, we always celebrated at my grandmother’s (Mimi’s) house.  Our extended family would be there, generally with a few extras, whom Mimi was wrapping her wings around.  It was always amazing that our table could expand to fit everyone.  If you were on the far side and needed to get something, the only way was to crawl under the table.  The food was incredible.  I remember everyone sneaking into the kitchen trying to get a piece of turkey as my grandfather was carving it.  He was constantly squawking and smacking hands.

Our table has changed over the years.  We no longer need the large extenders as people have passed onto the other world or simply moved away.  This year, we will be celebrating at my house.  While we have changed (I am no longer the little girl acting out my part of the ballet recital!  This shows the incredible love and patience of my family to watch me stand and tap my foot for several minutes before I dance-ran across the floor and did a jump, completing my part of Tchaikovsky’s “The Waltz of the Flowers”), the focus has remained the same: Family, Food, and Gratitude.  Three of my favorite things!

Gratitude

This year I have really focused on gratitude.  I’ve discovered that the more grateful that I am for the many gifts, the more I have to be grateful (“great-full”) for.  It really has brought about so much change for me.

As I look around and go about my day, my eyes are constantly searching for gifts.  While I don’t do this in a way of expectation, I do this with reverence.  For instance, my son had an injury this spring.  I went to look for Plantain to help with the infection; however, the Plantain was very elusive.  I started seeing what I was walking through, it was a field of Red Clover.  As I greeted her, I realized that this was the medicine that Sy needed.  Red Clover is an excellent blood purifier.  While I harvested some, I was completely overwhelmed with gratitude for her.  This has happened to me many times (of course with other Plants).  Some may say that it is a matter of being more mindful.  I guess in a way it is.  However, Plants are very intelligent, when we recognize that they are gifts and receive them with respect and honor; they are more willing to help and be a bigger presence in our lives.

On a more personal note, shifting my focus onto gratitude helped me (well is continuing to help me) through my grief.  When my brother died, what hurt the most was that I would not see him or touch him again (not as I did when he was alive) and that he couldn’t physically be there for his son.  I was very angry at all the lost chances. Then, I started remembering the times that I did share with him and the abundance of gifts that he gave me.  I realized how lucky I am to have known him and shared my life with him.

Here are two techniques I feel help cultivate gratitude.  Of course, you can also simply look around you and give thanks for all the gifts that surround you.

Breath of Gratitude

Sit with a Plant.  If you like, you can imagine that you have roots that grow out of the bottom of your spine into the earth.  Imagine that your roots intertwine with the Plant’s roots.  When you breathe in, realize that your breath is a gift from the Plant.  Breathe in ki’s Love.  When you exhale, give your breath to the Plant.  Send it with Love.  Now breathe in again, this time breathe in the Love and gratitude from the Plant.  Breathe out Love and gratitude for the Plant.  Do this for as long as you like, preferably at least 5 minutes.

Remember we need Plants to survive.  We rely on their exhale, for our oxygen.  Recognize this as a gift of life.  The Plants can survive without us.  However, they do appreciate our exhale of carbon dioxide.  We are intimately connected through our breaths.

Heart Breathing

Take some time for yourself.  Sit in a quiet, peaceful place, outside is best.  Spend some time breathing in and out through your Heart.  You may find some resistance to this at first.  That’s okay, keep trying.  Our Heart is an amazing sensory organ, among other things.  When we learn to breathe through our Hearts, or really acknowledge our Heart in any way, we see connections that before were invisible to us.

While I find that it is easiest to start in a quiet, peaceful environment.  You can do this anywhere.  I think this is a great tool for when you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation.  When done within a group, I believe it helps to foster group connection or resonance.

While Heart breathing is a simple activity, it has profound effects.  As I mentioned, it helps us to recognize our many connections.  It allows us to tap into our natural intuitive being.  It also helps us feel the world instead of think (or often ignore) the world.  This is an important and necessary shift for our changing world.  In The Secret Teachings of Plants, Stephen Harrod Buhner discusses what he calls “Heart-Brain Entrainment”.  In essence, when we feel with our Heart, we change our physiology in a very positive manner.

Abundance

To me, abundance is directly connected to gratitude.  Once you start recognizing the many gifts that surround you, you start noticing the abundance of this earth.  We are trained that there is a limited amount of wealth (and really almost everything), which tends to put us in competition with one another.  However, if we give ourselves the ability to step back and look around, we see how fortunate we are.  There may be a finite amount of money (I really don’t know); however, money is only one way of measuring wealth.  The Earth by her very nature is generous.  She does not like to see any bare spots.  Gardeners can verify this by the amount of voluntary Plants (often called weeds) that appear.  My favorite example is the Plant, often Dandelion or Plantain, who pushes through the pavement.

(Note: just because Nature is abundant, does not mean that we should be wasteful or disrespectful such as clear-cutting or harvesting to extinction.  I think this is the role of gratitude.  If we are great-full for Nature’s gifts, we do not want to take more than we need.)

Do you know anyone who can never seem to get ahead or to whom the sky is always falling?  I often think that what they need most is a change of attitude.  They tend to focus on what is wrong and what they don’t have and not on what they do.  I know someone like this.  She’s always struggling with money, complaining about how she’s been treated bad by the men in her life, always in some form of a crisis.  (In case any of you think I’m talking about you, I’m not.)  What she doesn’t notice is how fortunate she is to have beautiful children, a family who loves and supports her, that she has always had food to eat, and always had a place to live.  If she would take the time to go outside, she would notice the gorgeous, breathtaking, and bizarre flowers that bloom, the trees that give us breath, the ever abundant source of energy (the Sun), the Moon who guides our dreams, and many of the million other gifts.  Maybe that’s the secret, maybe being with Nature, in Nature helps us cultivate our gratitude and recognize the abundance.

There it is again, that message to spend time in Nature.  That seems to be the answer to so much of what ails us.

Manifestation

I have been working with a new set of Essences from Delta Gardens that I feel helps me appreciate abundance, overcome my fears associated with it, and strengthen my manifesting skills.  Through my training with this set, David Dalton (of Delta Gardens) reiterated that we are surrounded by abundance which each of us deserves to and can experience.  However, we often send out mixed signals about what we want.  Along with our requests we may send out our fears (“If I achieve this, my family will disown me”), negative beliefs (“I’m not worthy”), our past “programming” (“Money is the root of all evil.”), or other impediments.  It is hard to manifest what we want when we send out these mixed signals.  The good news is that when we work on these (primarily second and third chakra) issues, we not only make significant strides in our healing journey, we also are more easily able to manifest what we want.  (I feel we also learn what we truly want.)  So the question is how do we heal or do this work?  Well, we can use many different modalities, yes, Flower Essences is one of them.  What we want to focus on is ending toxic relationships; changing destructive habits (including negative self-thoughts); develop a worthiness program; and clear neglect, abuse, trauma.  One of my favorite things that David taught us during this class (I took the class twice!) is developing a worthiness program.  For this, you plan one pleasure per day for yourself, plan one special pleasure per week, plan one extra-special pleasure per month, and plan one extravagant pleasure per year.  Sounds like fun (and very healing)!  So if you feel guilty when you take time out for yourself or treat yourself to something enjoyable, remember that it is beneficial to your health and overall well-being.

Update on Nanny

I’ve heard from some of you concerning my grandmother, so I thought that I would include an update.  She has been moved from a hospital to a local nursing home.  She is passing therapy with flying colors.  Currently, the plan is to discharge her to her own home next week!  She is very happy.

After I sent out my last newsletter, I realized that I didn’t share something I thought was very important.  I believe that Nanny’s shingles are a physical reaction to her grief.  Nanny is a very strong woman, she never really allowed herself to dissolve in her grief.  She always wanted to stay strong for the other members of our family and to make my Pop-Pop “proud” (her word).  To me, her shingles were a reminder that when we do not express and heal our pain and emotions, they will fester and get louder and louder until we must take notice, often with a serious illness.

What I Love and appreciate so much about Flower Essences is that when we work with them, we are looking for the underlying pain (I’m using this as a general term, you can substitute guilt, anger, self-loathing, etc.) and its cause(s) so that we can heal and clear it from us.  We recognize that the illness is a symptom, a clue to what lies beneath.  If we only focus on the symptom (which is so often done in our culture), we miss the opportunity for true healing.

Please know I am thankful for you.  I hope that this finds you well and I wish you a wonder-full Thanksgiving.  Please remember to take some time for yourself and spend some awe-inspiring time in nature.

Lessons and Gifts from Pink Lady's Slipper

Lessons and Gifts from Pink Lady's Slipper

Pink Lady's Slipper is a rare native Orchid which grows in the Northeast.  After a twenty-nine year search, I recently reencountered her.  This is a sharing of some of the lessons which I have learned from her.  (I have learned more and I know that there are many more to come.)