Nature

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.

On Balance

It is the time of year where we are again reminded of Balance. Where is our energy? Where is our focus? Are we taking time to play and rest? Are we devoting time to our Heart’s calling? How does Nature fit into our lives? This year, there is an even bigger call for Balance, as Mother Earth shows us in brilliant ways how we are collectively imbalanced. We have raging Forest Fires, enormous Hurricanes, mass flooding, and powerful Earthquakes.

It can be nerve wracking to watch these. It is easy to feel overwhelmed and react with fear, feeling as if the sky is falling.

For those of us who aren’t directly experiencing these, I think it is important that we stay grounded and calm, that we hold the space for the Beings involved, and that we try to focus on the bigger picture.

Fire and Water are great energetic cleansers. Large Forest Fires, Hurricanes, and Earthquakes discharge energy and shake things up. They create a clean slate. These are some of Mother Earth’s ways of healing and balancing, just like a fever does for us.

Let’s face it, Mother Earth has quite a bit of clearing needed. And I’m not just talking about the excess CO2 and other pollution. Yes, I believe in climate change. And yes, I think we need to reduce our CO2, eliminate toxins, and take other actions. From my healing work, I know that before something appears as a physical symptom, it has been hanging out in the Spiritual, Mental, Emotional bodies for awhile. I believe the same is true here. After all, our outer world reflects our inner world. I want to go deeper than climate change.

Most of us are not aware of our energy nor do we pay attention to what we send out. It doesn’t take long to peruse social media or listen to the news to see that fear and anger are big components in our culture. These fears and emotions affect the environment and us. If we are not taking responsibility for our emotions, if we let them run amuck, they become garbage piling up and we are faced with a similar fate as Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout who would not take the garbage out (from Shel Silverstein’s poem). Though fortunately for us, the Earth has systems to account for this and when we won’t take out the garbage, She will.

So here’s an opportunity. We can learn how to take responsibility of our emotions. Have you said, “I’m not angry.” while you have a big perma-grin on your face and are actually steaming inside? And then held that anger in until you got to talk to a friend and then let it spew everywhere. Guess what, that spewing goes into the energetic atmosphere and affects others.

For many of us, we were raised to ignore our feelings. When you were a child, you may have been told that it wasn’t okay to be sad (“Boys don’t cry.”) Or maybe you were punished whenever you got angry. If this was the case, it may take some effort to recognize what you are feeling. There are a number of methods of learning how to understand your emotions including meditation, Mindfulness, and Non-Violent Communication.

Let’s face it, between alcohol, drugs, television, pornography, and the endless barrage of consumerism our culture is great at numbing. But this numbing doesn’t take care of the actual issue or the actual feelings, it only suppresses, which allows the energy behind them to expand. So it’s time we face them. It’s time we get in touch with our grief.

If we can be brave enough to feel what we are feeling, many of us, will discover we have grief. Of course, there is grief from heart-break and grief from our Loved ones dying. There is also grief for the children who are starving, for the death of our coral reefs, for the clear-cutting of our Forests, for the women who are raped, for the men who are incarcerated, for slavery, for the annihilation of the Native Americans, the list goes on and on. Because this list is so long and overwhelming, we prefer to ignore it and numb it. However, if we want to live authentically, if we want to live in balance, if we want to live in a beautiful, magical world, we need to acknowledge this. Joanna Macy says,

“…despair is the covering of our love for our world and we crack it open by speaking it, so the love can act. So the key is in not being afraid of our pain for the world, not being afraid of the world’s suffering, and if you’re not afraid of it, then nothing can stop you.”

When we can become conscious of our emotions, we can then become conscious of our reactions and the energies that we send out. Thus, hopefully, reducing the garbage.

We also reduce the garbage by practicing good energy hygiene such as: smudging, Limpias, Sacred Bathing, Egg Limpias, laughing, crying, and time in Nature. These free our auras and bodies of energies that do not serve us and can reinstate calm and peace. Energy hygiene is particularly important if you are an empath.

As Nature is cleansing and balancing, she asks us to acknowledge our relationship with Earth and ALL her Beings. We live in an interconnected world, even though the mainstream paradigm wants us to believe we are separate. It’s time we step forward and move into right relationship, becoming a part of Nature, recognizing our relatives. When we do this, we honor our True Essential Nature and step into our potential.

Instead of responding in fear to the occurrences of our world, I ask us to ground, get centered in our Hearts (remember Gratitude is a great help), take responsibility for our emotions and energy, keep our auras clear, and connect with Nature. These seemingly simple acts have profound effects. Remember “It has been said that something as small as the flutter of a butterfly’s wing can ultimately cause a typhoon half-way around the world.” (Chaos Theory)

There are many Plants that can help us. Tulsi helps us be calm, peaceful, and Heart centered. White Pine brings strength, protection, and peace. Sunflower helps us face our fears. Eastern Hemlock helps us adjust to change. Burdock helps us be grounded while keeping our crown chakras open. Burdock also helps to clear unwanted energies from our Auras. Of course, these are only a sample. Nature is ready to help us. Often all we need to do is ask.

Be Brave. Be Balanced. Be Shining. Be Love(d).

________

Photo is from Vieques, which was greatly affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Experience the Dark: Quietly and Slowly

We are beginning our journey out of the dark and into the light as our days are getting longer.  This begins our time of rest and reflection.  Our dreaming selves are re-ignited.  Let’s listen to the cues from Nature and hibernate.  Our hibernation may look different, but it will serve the same purpose, to nurture ourselves and help us prepare for the year ahead.  We can move slow, sleep lots, eat deeply nourishing (physically, spiritually, and emotionally) foods, spend good quality time with our friends and families, keep our bodies warm and cozy, and really dream ourselves a new year and a new paradigm. This is the time of year that I work really hard to put the brakes on and not overdo it.  Though, often it feels like no matter how hard I pull on that brake, I am still skidding along.  I do find it helpful to remind myself (almost constantly), what this season would/could/should be without the commercialization.  I know that we can each have our own vision of this.  For me, it really is a sacred time.  It’s a time of quiet and reverence.  It is a magical, mystery ride.  Where we feel the darkness.  It is absorbed in our cells.  It is close to consuming us.  Yet, we know that the light is returning.  Soon.

While it can be overwhelming to be in this darkness, we know that we are only here for a short time.  If we didn’t experience this, the light would have little meaning to us.  It is through this dark, that our growth occurs.  Yes, like Plants, we need light to grow.  However, also like the seeds and the roots of Plants, our growth begins in the dark.

Quiet!

I have been thinking a lot about quiet lately (maybe that’s because I have 2 boys in my house).  Last year, I did a solitary retreat to Pendle Hill, a Quaker retreat center near Philadelphia.  While there, I was reminded that we each have a different opinion of what quiet is.  Most of the people there were from cities.  So to them it was a very quiet place.  To me, the traffic was so loud.  No matter where you live, we all need quiet, yet it is very hard to find.  We have planes that fly over head, tractors in neighboring fields, and what I consider to be the worst, the electrical humming of the machines in our house (refrigerator, heating system, etc.).  Recently I renewed a practice that I started when my kids were small of driving without the radio.  I started this again so that when I drive Liam to school in the morning, he has time to process his dreams and can start the day with his own song, not someone else’s electronic song.  (Don’t get me wrong, I love music, but we all know what it is like to have a song stuck in your head.)  Long after I would drop him off, I would discover that I did not turn on the radio.  I also realized that I too was able to process my dreams and thoughts better without the background noise.

We all need quiet so that we can hear our intuitions and dreams.  Yes, sometimes, when we ignore these voices, they will get louder, until we can hear them.  (As in the the person with Lyme whose intuition was trying to tell them to slow down, rest, not do so much.)  One of the recommendations for ear (and kidney) ailments is to observe silence.  Since this is the season of quiet, I suggest we all strive to find a quiet place.

Slow

I have been thinking lately about the speed in which we move.  The message that I am receiving over and over (I’m guessing many of you have also received, if not you are now!) is to slow down.

Again, this is the time of year where we turn inward.  So this is a great time to start slowing.

I know our time on this earth is relatively short and that our society tells us that we should do more and faster.  However, I think that we would be happier and healthier if we could slow down, move at our natural pace, digest our thoughts and environment, focus on what we are doing at the time, enjoy our friends and family.

Looking at our society, I realize how unhealthy we are.  (Books can and have been written about this.)  I simply want to look at our pace.  Let’s delve just a little.  I was taught that the assembly line is one of the greatest “inventions”.  Why, because it allowed us to make things faster!  What it also did was locked people inside, where they worked in a very small area, doing repetitive motion every day.  (That’s not even mentioning the abuse and deaths that occurred due to poor factory conditions.)

What really got me thinking about this is the speed in which we drive.  I know that I am a culprit of this myself.  I witnessed someone pass 2 cars and a tractor on a blind hill, presumably so he could get to where he was going faster.  Ironically, we were all behind him at the next light.  He didn’t get there any faster, though he did risk several lives.

That made me think, why do we have to get there faster?  What if we just got there when we got there?  Would our lives be any less meaningful?  Why do we rush to get from point A to point B, couldn’t we slow down and enjoy the journey between those two points?  Maybe if we slow down, magic will happen.  At least I find that’s what occurs.

The other part of the issue for me is multi-tasking.  Again, multi-tasking is not only accepted now, but expected.  When we drive, we talk on the phone (hopefully, not text).  When we talk to our friends, we cook dinner.  The point of multi-tasking is to do several things as quickly as possible.  What ends up happening is that we are not able to focus on any of them and they all become a chore for us (well, hopefully not talking to your friends!).

What I recommend is that we focus on doing one thing at a time.  Not only do one thing at a time, but focus.  I (like my 94 year old grandma) wash my floors on my knees with a rag.  While I’m there, not only am I concentrating on getting the floor clean, but I also find myself going to that slow, quiet place.  In other words, I find myself meditating and digesting my recent thoughts and experiences.  So when I walk away, I have a clean floor, new insights, and a feeling of peace.  When did we ever feel this as we barrel down the highway talking to our friends, dodging the other drivers who are on their cell phones?

Let’s enjoy the journey and take the time to notice the many gifts along the way.  Digest our experiences.  Move slowly.  Only do what we can in a given amount of time.  What doesn’t get done, we can do another day.  Or maybe not, maybe it doesn’t need to be done.  Prioritize.  For goodness sake, turn off the cellphones from time to time!  (Sorry, pet peeve of mine.)  Rest and breathe deeply. Slow.

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.)