Inner Mind


July 2011

About Being with Plants Musings

Dear Friends,

Most of my waking hours for the past several months have been spent outdoors, being and working with plants. Frequently there is not another person in sight. I work for a company called Helping Nature Heal, that does caretaking of formal gardens as well as restructuring and replanting of wild areas. At home, I have my own gardens and plant projects.

This is work I have grown into, through external observation that I am most comfortable and content when being with plants, as well as internal guidance that my soul's growth purpose at this point in my life, is to learn about plant consciousness.

Plant consciousness of itself is non-verbal. In fact, my brain is very happy to pause most of its verbal functioning to simply be with the plants, articulating only however it is that I am sorting, organizing or caretaking them, whether I am weeding or planting or pruning. Always, I am appreciating, observing and wondering.

The challenge is that when I restart the human functioning verbal processes of my brain, they do not simply carry on from where they left off, they are different. Initially, I found this quite disorientating. Much of human thinking and acting seems absurd from the perspective of plant consciousness. Not in the sense of any judgments or opinions, simply irrelevant.

Yet, plants and humans are intrinsically interconnected. Humans have figured out how plants function physically, how they benefit humans nutritionally and medicinally, how to propagate and grow plants and so on. Plants, in turn, respond to human thoughts and needs, perhaps more so than we realize.

A personal experience I have had of this is with Cedar. Cedars do not naturally choose to grow in Nova Scotia. Invariably, the ones I have seen planted are scrawny and struggling to survive. It has recently been explained to me that this is because most of the base soil here is acidic and cedars prefer an alkaline environment.

However, there is a beautiful cedar here on this property and I love cedars. So, after I moved here, noticing how the native trees (pines, firs and spruces) sprout babies prolifically, all over the place, so that I am forever weeding them out of places they have no chance of growing in, I asked Cedar why it wasn't making any babies. I explained how beautiful and well adjusted it was, that it was at home now, so it would be nice to have some cedar babies around.

That conversation happened three years ago and I had forgotten all about it until one day this spring as Laurie and I were sauntering around, greeting and admiring all the new plant beings, low and behold, there, in a bank, between the mowed lawn and the driveway, among the native field plants, was a baby cedar. An excited examination of the bank revealed several more, all beautiful and vibrantly alive and well.

Would Cedar have made the babies, anyway, if I had not asked it? I do not know. I am not aware of any other places around here where cedars propagate naturally, willingly. Certainly, my conversation with cedar at least affirmed and encouraged, whether it initiated the process or not.

Our thoughts are very real bits of energy. I remember, for example, how I worked with my thoughts when I was in the soul's growth lesson of “living in wellness”. I watched my thoughts diligently and deleted any thoughts that had potential of harming anyone or anything, in the understanding, that: as all is one, what you wish or project or attribute to another, you bring back upon yourself.

Now, in my current soul's growth lesson of learning about plant consciousness, I am again aware of my thinking. Which thoughts and attitudes come from what I have always accepted to be true about plants, that other people, from my childhood onwards, have spoken around me. What do I really know and think and believe now?

Glaring into my attention this spring, as never before, are what I first labeled as the “bully” plants; plants that take over or dominate in an area, so that other plants are severely compromised or pushed out of being there, altogether.

Bullying” has all sorts of implications of human manipulation of other humans. I don't think plants try to manipulate one another; more simply, they take their space in the ground and if it is in their nature to grow eighty feet tall and shade a quarter of an acre of land, then this is simply fulfilling their potential.

So, I have deleted the word “bullying” from considerations about plants and switched to using “assertive” instead. And I realize, that given the right circumstances, many many plants can become assertive. As I talk about this with other plant people, they tell me that mint, comfrey, burdock, thistle, knotweed, roses, shrubs, junipers, ground ivy, blackberries, horsetails, grasses, monster grapes, poison ivy, nettles, nightshades, vetches, pin cherries, poplars, spruces, pines and the list goes on and on, can “take over” and become the “dominant plant” in a given area.

Meanwhile, people are deciding what plants they want to see growing on the land in their care. Many of these human friendly plants need constant human engagement and nurturing to hold their space among the assertive ones. I wonder how many of the plants in our yards and gardens have evolved in response to human needs and desires and whims and thoughts and care-taking.

Gardens and fields around here, left untended, grow very differently. Without human intention and effort, they organize themselves to grow back into forest. Sun loving plants give their energy to support the next growth of species that in turn give way to shrubs and eventually trees that overshadow many plants. Then there are the plants that thrive on the forest floor, including the mushrooms and fungi.

Plant consciousness has a different relationship to time than the human thinking of one life span.

In the present moment, being with plants is exhilarating. They are simply vibrant natural channels of prana, life force and the joy of being alive on this planet.

May you enjoy the plant beings that share space and consciousness with you in this Earthwalk!