I think the real question is “What is OUR reason for existence?” Every aspect of Nature has a role, a purpose. We have learned this the hard way, by removing unwanted Beings (like Wolves) and seeing how greatly this changed the wellbeing of an ecosystem. Nature does not waste. Since we are, whether we realize it or not, part of Nature, this means that we too are here for a reason.
"The best place to find God is in a garden. You can dig for him there."
~George Bernard Shaw
We are excited to announce that Heart Springs Sanctuary, Brigid’s Way’s home, has been accepted into the United Plant Savers’ Botanical Sanctuary Network!
The United Plant Savers (UpS) protects native medicinal plants of the United States and Canada and their native habitat while ensuring an abundant renewable supply of medicinal plants for generations to come. As part of their mission, UpS created a network of sanctuaries dedicated to restoring and preserving habitat for wildlife, both Plants and animals.
Herbalism and Plant medicine have an interesting history of both beauty and pain. Unfortunately, part of this history is the over harvesting of Plants. Now that interest in natural healing is growing and herbs become part of the latest health fad, it is even more critical that we are conscious of the well being of Plants and how they are harvested.
At Brigid’s Way we believe that our future is intricately tied with the future of the Plants. When we found our Home, we knew that we were creating a Sanctuary where Humans could work co-creatively with Nature and experience the Divine through the Plants and Nature Spirits. We wanted to create a place that honors the Plants and acts as a model for another possibility. That is the possibility where we all Beings can thrive.
We are very much in the beginning stages of creating this Sanctuary. We have great plans of converting the large lawn to gardens, wild areas, and walking paths. This Spring we are building a Labyrinth. We have a ridiculously long list of Plants that want to join us here (which we couldn’t be happier to have them). We want to create a Wetlands Sanctuary around our small pond, where there is again mostly grass. And we have some clean-up work to do. This is just what the Nature Spirits are asking us to do this first year! Who knows what plans lay ahead.
My point is that if the idea of a Botanical Sanctuary or a Sanctuary garden sounds appealing and yet, you think you have to create something pristine first, you don’t. The most important aspect of creating a Sanctuary is the intention. It is about saying that this area (which may be acres or may be a little porch with a couple growing pots) is Sacred. Beyond that, what constitutes a Sanctuary is up to you. It may be an area where you do not harvest. It may be a garden planted with a special purpose, such as a Butterfly garden. It may be an area where you simply sit and meditate with Nature.
For me, when I found this place or more when this place found me, I was determined that every aspect would be a Sanctuary. The intention is that every thing we do at Heart Springs Sanctuary is in alliance with the Nature Beings.
When I was introduced to Damanhur, my friend Esperide Ananas talked about the Three Mother Worlds: the Human World, the Plant/Tree World, and the Nature Spirits World. She said, “There was once one sound, one frequency, one World.” (That touches me so deep to think about one sound, one frequency.) However, the humans separated and caused the Three Mother Worlds to form. Part of Damanhur philosophy (at least based on my understanding) is that if humans are to survive on Earth, we need to reunite the 3 Worlds. [If you would like to learn more, join us for a free Teleseminar with Esperide on January 21st.]
Working co-creatively with the Nature Spirits to create Heart Springs Sanctuary is part of my efforts to help unite the Three Mother Worlds. Though I have to admit, I wasn’t conscious of this effort when I decided to make this a Sanctuary. I did it because it felt right, really it felt like the only option. I want to live in a Sanctuary. I want my clients and students to be received in a Sanctuary. I think we all could do with a little more sanctuary in our lives.
We launched our first ever crowdfunding campaign to support the planting of Trees and Shrubs at Heart Springs Sanctuary. This is the first step that the Nature Spirits have highlighted. These Trees and Shrubs are integral in creating a wetlands area, converting the large expanse of grass, creating a woodlands section where we will later plant native woodland Plants, and providing food and shelter for the Pollinators and other wildlife. The support from our community adds to the energy and vitality of this Land. As part of this project, we are offering people to name a Tree or Shrub for a Loved one or themselves. As we go about our gratitude walks and classes, we will greet these Plants by these names, strengthening the connection between humans and Plants. Please support this project by sponsoring a Tree/Shrub, sharing it with others, or helping us to plant. We are so excited to welcome these Plants and their human counterparts here!
Wherever you are, I hope that you are able to find sanctuary and can pause to feel your connection with the Plants and Spirit. Feeling the Love that they offer us, even when the world is cold.
“And don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It's quiet, but the roots are down there riotous.”
"...the only certainty is Love. The only firm and stable ground is Love. The only place to be is Love. The only springboard is Love. Love–not emotional love–unconditional Love. Absolute Love. Divine Love. Love is an earthquake to every probability that could exist. Love shatters all probabilities, creating the certainty of Love." ~ Michael J. Roads
I recently experienced a moment of pure unconditional Love while I was at a restaurant with my nephew and family. We all absolutely Love and adore my nephew, which is quite obvious. While we were together, I was noticing how our Love for him was affecting those around us. People were watching us and smiling and their energy was raised. Long after we left the restaurant, I noticed that I was lighter and happier and my vibration was higher because I had experienced this unconditional Love for my nephew.
I started dreaming and imagining what our world would be like if every child was honored and greeted with this unconditional Love. What would it be like if we met everyone like this? What would it feel like to be greeted with unconditional Love?
This may seem like a tall task or a “pipe dream”. However, if we are Love (and I do believe this is the basis of our Being), then isn’t this the natural way to be met and to meet others?
As I focused on this vision, the violence and war that is part of our culture kept grabbing my attention like that small wound you keep accidentally hitting, making it more pronounced.
For awhile now, I have contemplated the true cost of war. I think about the lives lost (both military and civilian). I wonder how many of them were artists or scientists or philosophers or healers who had something special to offer this world, which was lost. I wonder about the relationships and connections lost. I think about the environmental cost of the mining of the materials used, of the making of ammunitions and other aspects of war, of the chemicals used, of the spent (and live) ammunitions left in places, of the planes and vehicles used, of the clearing of Land to create a “safer battlefield”, of the destruction of factories and buildings … I think about the loss of priceless pieces of art, artifacts, sacred buildings, Nature, and items of cultural and historical artifacts. I think about the energetic imprint that war leaves in the psyche and the Land, the effects of which can continue for centuries and the loss of mental and emotional health, which often effects generations. I wonder how all of this has affected our evolution. And I wonder how the fear and violence of war reverberates in our daily lives.
I think about the mass shootings, domestic abuse, rape and other forms of violence in our culture. I wonder does war beget violence in our culture or does violence in our culture beget war, which feels like the chicken or the egg debate. I think most likely both are true.
Earlier this year, I had the privilege of hearing Arun Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, speak. When Arun was a boy, his grandfather asked him to write down all of his actions throughout the day and consider their relationship with violence. He was to pay attention to acts of physical violence as well as passive violence, which included habits or ways of life that hurt people such as: name calling, bullying, discrimination, oppression, greed, waste, lying, unkind words, arrogance, etc. Particular interest was given to acts of passive violence, for actions and words that hurt a person build up until that person reacts with physical violence. According to Mahatma Gandhi, “Passive violence is the fuel that ignites physical violence in the world. If we want to put out the fire of physical violence, we have to cut the fuel supply.” (from The Gift of Anger by Arun Gandhi)
We may feel hopeless in stopping wars or mass shootings or sexual abuse. However, when we pay attention to our own actions and words, we can stop the fuel that feeds these acts by treating ourselves and others with Love and compassion. The added bonus is that when we act with Love and compassion, we are feeding our Hearts, raising our oxytocin level, and helping to calm our nervous system, which increases our level of peace.
Love is our greatest tool, our greatest gift. With Love, we literally transform the world. This is the lesson of so many wise ones including Jesus and Buddha and of course, Mahatma Gandhi. With every thought, with every word, with every action we have the opportunity to choose Love. This of course, does not mean that if we say something unkind, we are a “bad” person, we are simply human learning how to use this gift. The good news is that we will continue to have opportunities to choose Love.
If you struggle, remember the Plants are here to help. Rose in particular is a great ally for teaching us about Love and compassion and helping us to soften (and remain strong). You can visualize Rose blossoming in your Heart and as each petal unfolds, the Love increases and radiates out. Remember to also radiate this Love to yourself and to be Loving towards yourself including in your self-talk.
This may seem like a small act. As Arun Gandhi writes, “From the smallest act to the largest, what we do in our own lives becomes a mirror for what the greater world will look like.” (from The Gift of Anger, p.132)
I wish you much Love and many blessings as we move into the time of dreaming. May we be Love and see the Love in one another.
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.
In November, my son and I travelled to North Dakota to support the Water Protectors of Standing Rock. I was going there to support the Medic + Healers at the Oceti Sakowin camp and my son to help build. Before leaving, I was reluctantly interviewed and one of the questions was, “What expectations do you have?” My response was “None. Well, I expect we won’t want to leave.” I was right, we didn’t want to leave. And there is no way that I could’ve expected what I experienced. I wrote in another blog about my experience of Beauty and community. All of this is true and these experiences have continued to feed my Heart and add more fuel to my long-held vision of a more Loving world. I believe that it is these experiences that have enabled my deeper, unravelling experiences from Standing Rock. It has taken me some time to be able to share these and to be completely honest, I continue to be in the midst of working through them.
We are encouraged to attend at least 1 morning meeting at Oceti Sakowin. The day that I went, my Heart was filled by the prayers and being reminded of the 7 Lakota Values (Prayer, Respect, Compassion, Honesty, Generosity, Humility, Wisdom). We then moved to another building for the orientation portion. It was here that my world came tumbling down. During one of the announcements, we were reminded that our country was founded as a white supremacist patriarchal society. My first instinct, was “No way!” I grew up not far from Philadelphia and regularly visited the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. I know that our founding fathers were not perfect, but come on! A split second later, it happened. “Oh my gosh! It was! I live in a white supremacist, patriarchal country!”
Suddenly I started seeing things in a completely different manner. To add to this, I witnessed racism like I’ve never seen before. Here, in North Dakota, it was expected and considered normal. I don’t know how to put this in words. The energy from this was thick, grey, gross, and suffocating. Despite dealing with racism every day, the Lakota/Dakota/Nakota continued.
I grew up reading history books about the genocide of Native Americans. I remember being appalled to learn of the Trail of Tears or the Land grabs or the small pox blankets. I always thought that if I was alive then, I would do what I could to stop this.
So here I was, standing in a camp of Beauty surrounded by thousands of Native Americans from hundreds of Nations all whose very existence is a sign of resistance. For they and their Ancestors survived having their Land, children, religion, language, and food taken from them. They have survived biological and chemical warfare. And they continue to deal with significantly higher than average poverty, incarceration, violence, rape, drug and alcohol abuse along with a significantly lower availability of health care. A brief stroll through statistics is Heartbreaking. I discovered another lie, the genocide has not stopped. It has been ongoing since the first white settlers arrived, though the form changes. And these survivors greeted me with open arms saying, “Welcome Home!”
I came home from Standing Rock with a giant mix of emotions. (I think it was also significant that we left for Standing Rock on the day that Donald Trump became the President elect.) I was overwhelmed by the Beauty and community that I witnessed. While feeling like my world was unraveling and my frames of perception were ripped off. I was open and raw and lost. And I didn’t want to change this. I wanted to continue through it. For too long, I was living with false perceptions and understanding. Don’t get me wrong, I knew racism existed and witnessed it and tried to change it. But the fact that I could be 40 years old and be surprised that our country was founded on white supremacy, showed me just how big my white privilege was.
So I unraveled. On the physical level, this lead to an illness with fevers and loss of consciousness that left me bedridden for about a week. As I recovered physically, I continued to process. When I discovered that Donald Trump was elected, my response was to Love more, to be even more gentle and kind, to be even more dedicated to healing. Now, a new layer began. I started to feel the wounds we have been carrying for generations, including the wounds of the Holocaust. We carry so much from our past and until we heal these, we continue to be effected, all of us. I allowed these to move through me as I focused on transmuting them with Love.
As always, I called to the Plants and my other helping guides to help me be a vessel of transmutation and to help my body adjust to these new perspectives. I continue to ask for help and guidance from the Plants while I continue to unravel and find my Truth.
We live in this incredible time. I keep feeling like I have stepped into one of my history books. The truth is we are living herstory. We have the opportunity to heal the wounds of our past - remembering that both oppressors and oppressed were harmed - and we have the power to shift our paradigm to benefit the future.
One of my great lessons from Standing Rock is that together we are strong. I share my experiences in the hopes that together we can remove the facades and allow our healing. Together we can shift this white supremacist, patriarchal paradigm in which we live to one that is inclusive, celebrates diversity, and is based on Love.
I do not claim to be an excellent gardener. Never have. In fact, in the past, I was so unwilling to kill any Plant that I wouldn’t “weed” and my vegetable garden would soon consist of more weeds than vegetables. After losing my herb garden and restarting last year, I realized that I needed to make a change. So I did what I do and I asked the Plants for assistance. I talked about my realization of “de-planting” in the last newsletter, so I won’t go into detail here.
Since writing about it and as I prepare for garden days here, I have been trying to pay attention to how I work with the Plants.
First, I notice a huge difference in the Plants in my herb garden. I’ve been telling everyone that it is like they are on steroids. People nod and say yes this crazy weather, with the heat and abundance of rain, has been great for Plants. But that’s not it. If you look at the Plants in my herb garden and compare them to any other Plants, there is a difference. They are larger, stronger, and have many more blooms. You can (or at least I can) notice the difference in quality. I have a hypothesis which I’ll share later.
Why weed or de-plant? Well, as I said earlier, when I didn’t de-plant my gardens, the garden Plants struggled. I questioned myself, why are the Plants that I planted more important than the wild ones? They aren’t. However, when creating a garden, a human creates a contract with nature. The garden is under the human’s care. So it is my responsibility to provide the healthiest environment for the garden Plants. This is why I invite the wild Plants to grow in our field.
That being said, it is important to know (and this is contrary to what most gardeners will tell you) that the wild Plants are also important to the garden. These wild Plants do provide something. Perhaps they are using their tap roots to bring needed minerals. Perhaps they are providing protection (which is what Ragweed did for my garden last year). If you look at Nature, Plants do not like to grow alone with a lot of space between them (well, most Plants). And so our garden Plants, also need others nearby. Some gardeners do this with companion planting. I think this is helpful. I also think it is best if we can pay attention to the wild Plants (and the garden Plants) and see what is best for the garden.
This spring, Lamium purpureum or Purple Deadnettle came to my garden. I always admire this plant growing in the fields every spring. However, when I encountered ki growing (quite generously) in my herb garden, fear set in. I thought, I have to take care of this now or ki could take over my whole herb garden. (Most of the Plants were either still asleep or were just beginning to come out of the ground.) When I could step back, I realized that I like Lamium growing there, the purple and green were beautiful and Heart lifting. So I asked the garden and Lamium what I should do. The response was “Nothing,” I needed to let the Lamium continue to grow. So I did. As I sat with it and watched, the feeling that I got was that the Lamium was fixating energy into the garden similar to clover fixating nitrogen. She was raising the healing vibration of the garden. In time, her job was done and she told me to remove her, which I did. Now, my hypothesis, is that it is to Lamium purpureum that my garden (and I) owe the incredible growth, strength, and energy that is now present.
My point is that there is a time to de-plant and there is a time to let the Plants do their work. A good “gardener” accepts this and knows which time it is. To my knowledge, the only way to know when to do these is by paying attention to the Plants and letting them guide your work.
If you are interested in trying this, I encourage you to spend quiet time in your garden. Focus on sharing the space with all the Plants. Allow your breathing to unite with the Plants’ breathing. When you are ready, ask which Plant or Plants need to be removed. Open your eyes and see if any catch your attention. I try to focus on removing one or two Plants at a time. For instance, I am working with Ragweed right now. So I am removing all the Ragweed and only Ragweed . Then, next time I might work with Morning Glory and only remove Morning Glory. If one catches your attention, then go to that Plant (its okay if you don’t know what ki is, I encourage you to learn. Tell the Plant that this garden is for the Plants that you plant and invite. Thank her for her help in the garden and invite her to grow somewhere else (for me, we have a huge field where I invite them to grow). Ask her if there is anything that you need to do for her or the garden. Every time you pull a Plant, thank the Plant. If you can, eat or make medicine with the Plants you are “harvesting”. If not, then compost them and return them to the earth.
Be willing to allow the “weeds” to grow. Watch your garden and see how the energy shifts.
I have always had a hard time with “weeding.” I love Plants. I never wanted to kill a Plant (well, except for Morning Glory). Many of the “weeds” are Plants that I use medicinally or Plants that I suspected could be used medicinally. So for years, my gardens were overrun. Last year, I was gifted with a blank slate for a new garden. I was given a choice, I could continue as I did before and not weed or I could pull the unwanted plants. I contemplated this for awhile, until the plants gave me my answer. They taught me a new way and have asked me to share it. Originally we called this planting, now to not be confusing we call it “de-planting”.
I have an agreement with the plants that the garden will be for Plants that I put there or invite. If another Plant invites herself, I then explain the parameters of the garden and ask her to move to another place (I do have a large field surrounding my garden, with plenty of places for wild Plants.) That is the simple explanation.
What I actually do is get to know the volunteer. I ask her what she wants or needs and try to provide that for her. What happens is that I learn the personality of the Plants that surround me. I’ve also learned some new ways of using them. Most of the Plants that appear in the garden are there to help, so they tell me what I need for the garden. After I listen to them and make our agreement, I then pull them out. They often do not come back. Occasionally, I have had some return but usually it is because I wasn’t holding my end of the bargain and they were reminding me.
Through this process, I healed my relationship with Morning Glory. I learned that she likes to be sung to and told how pretty she is (which she is!). Now when I see her in the field, I stop and admire her. She helps me to be light and joyful. I enjoy this much more than wanting to kill her!!
This morning as I was in the garden seeing which Plants have begun to emerge, I saw a group of new volunteers. Now instead of dreading “weeding”, I am looking forward to getting to know some new Plants.
I hope that you find this helpful. If you try this, please let me know about your experiences!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
I started this summer in deep grief, mourning the loss of my brother. I spent large chunks of the day in bed. However, I have 2 sons that needed a mother, so they started pulling me out. Then, the Plants started asking me to make medicines, I turned them down, because I didn’t think I was in the right frame of mind. So Spirit and the Plants decided to speed things up and get my healing started. Because of them (and some dear friends), I feel like I have emerged from the darkness of my grief. I will always miss my brother and will forever love him, but there is work that needs to be done on this dynamic planet and I can’t waste any more time. So I will hold him in my Heart and take part in the wonders of life. Thank you to all who shared thoughts, kind words, and prayers with me. And thank you to my many clients who patiently waited, allowing me the space and time to heal. I greatly appreciate it. While I cut out most of the human world, I opened myself more fully to the Plants and Nature. I was able to spend time in the wilds of Banff National Park, Canada (I highly recommend it) and the Adirondacks of NY (a heart place of mine), as well as on Windy Hill Farm. I also went to several classes including the New England Women’s Herbal Conference (WHC). At the WHC this year, there seemed to be a repeating theme mentioned: our world is quickly changing and the Plants are willing to help facilitate this for us and help us return to our wild, native roots. One of the classes that I took was with Pam Montgomery. She told us that Plants have always evolved before their animal counterparts. She also mentions this in her book Plant Spirit Healing:
Going back to the beginning of plants and animals, we see that amphibian plants, which are seedless vascular plants like horsetail and ferns, moved to land first, then reptilian plants like angiosperms or ones that have internal development and protection of an embryo moved to land last. As plants moved to land their animal counterparts followed them so that mammals did not appear on land until angiosperms (flowering plants) were there to feed them (page 20).
Essentially, since all animals depend on Plants to live, their evolution allowed our evolution. So we have a very close connection to Plants. This thought can lead to much discussion. The point that I want to make is that we owe much to Plants. Yes, it is generally understood that they give us food, shelter, and oxygen. More and more people are returning to the knowledge of our ancestors and understanding that Plants have other roles in our lives through physical, emotional, and spiritual healing.
We know that we have a deep connection to Plants through our breathing. They give us oxygen which our bodies use and then we exhale carbon dioxide which they use. Pam said something else that made me think, “If we (humans) disappear from this earth, the plants will continue to thrive (there are other sources of carbon dioxide); however, if plants disappear from this earth, we will die in about 3 minutes (from lack of oxygen).” Now, I know that there are some scientists reading this who will try to comeback with another scenario, we have oxygen tanks, we can create oxygen from water, etc. I ask if these are your reactions to put them aside and just think of everything that Plants give us and even with these scientific processes, how long could we survive without plants. So while these Plant Beings are so generous, how do we repay them? We clearcut, we poison, we genetically modify. How is that for gratitude?
What I ask and what the Plants ask is that we change our ways. There are those who are already honoring the Plants and their numbers are growing. However, the Plants are insistent that we move faster, deeper and share their knowledge. If we, as individuals, can create strong connections with the Plant Beings and continue to grow these connections we will not only “save the planet” but we will really be saving ourselves. For once you have that strong connection, you cannot turn your back on the plants nor will you want to!
Message from the Plants:
Turn off the television
Spend time in Nature (everyday! And yes, a backyard is nature)
Eat Wild Foods