Shortly after I opened my Plant Spirit Medicine practice I realized that I was seeing my clients in a very unique way. They were dazzling to me. Radiant — in their spirit, in their endeavors, in their awesome humanity. Slowly but surely I began to realize that this must be how the plant spirits in fact “see” us.
Doing the Best We Can
Basically, I think the plant spirits “know” we are all doing the very best we can. They see us with immense compassion and generosity. They see us in our radiance and in our true potential and they work to help us heal, shed, peel the layers and get to that state in which our hearts are full, we can tap into our inner joy and be compassionate and generous towards ourselves and others. It is that highest best expression that the plant spirits see and sense in us. And it is precisely THAT which they touch and activate in us with their healing.
Healing, Wellness and Compassion
This knowing helps me in turn as a healer to remind my PSM clients to be compassionate towards themselves. I must often remind my clients how far they have come and how well they are doing. Sometimes the human condition (and human conditioning) make us strive and strive and want to do more and more, faster, yesterday … without celebrating, acknowledging and recognizing how much we have changed for the better, how much we have grown. When we celebrate and recognize how we are changing, we are in a sense giving thanks. As our hearts open while we are feeling gratitude … the healing work of the plant spirits really can take root even more profoundly in our Being.
We are all doing the very best we can
With our dreams
With our reality
With our heartaches
With our deepest hopes
With our parents
With our children
With our desires to change the world
To BE THE CHANGE we want to see
We are all doing the best we can
In spite of our boisterousness
In spite of our hiss
In spite of our bark
We want to build
We want to excel
We want to open hearts
We want to belong
We want it – All –
To really, truly, matter.
Teachings from the spirit of the rose
Last week I was describing to my husband how the stems of roses tend to prefer being cut short when you place the flowers on a vase. He wondered about that, because after all long-stemmed roses have a reputation for being best. As we spoke, I heard the guidance of the Rose Spirit, “Just as rose medicine is wonderful for healing people’s hearts, the rose’s stem itself has the ability to heal immediately after a cut has been made.”
Memories of healing spiritual encounters
I had my first encounter with the plant spirit of the rose while I was studying Plant Spirit Medicine. Something had happened in my personal life and I was feeling stuck and emotionally paralyzed by a heartbreak. After my journey with the Rose Spirit, the whole situation shifted and lifted. It wasn’t an intellectual thing, it was a healing of the heart. My heart just felt resilient again and I felt courageous again in matters of love … or at least willing to remain open. And here we were, on the first week of a new year hearing the message, the reminder of this amazing and generous plant. To me, the timing makes perfect sense — so much is changing within all of us and around us in this cycle in our human story. It is tempting to close off, to close down but the way through to real change and transformation is only made clear when we can open our hearts.
When my mom visited us this summer (she lives in Portland, Oregon), we went to The Growing Place, our favorite area garden center. After walking around, she told me she wanted to buy me a rose plant so that I could remember her after she passed away. I sat on a bench at the garden and resisted the idea with all my might. I thought of many reasons why she should not do that. We really don’t have many sunny spots in our yard, it’s a big expense, sometimes roses don’t “take” in our area, not many of our neighbors have them, and on and on. And all of a sudden, my inner voice punched through and said, “Wait a second, you LOVE roses. This plant wants to go live with you. Are you saying no? Who are you???” And I realized I had closed my heart the moment my mom mentioned the possibility of her passing away. I did not want to “go there,” think about that or even pretend to enter into that drama. But actually the whole episode was another major gift, a healing from the Rose Spirit. A healing of my own attachment to life as I know it … and a deepening of my relationship with my mom.
Today the beautiful yellow rose plant is dormant in our garden. Come spring time, I am sure she will gift us again with her joyful profusion of yellow blooms, her sweetness and yes, her teachings.
One of the things I witness consistently in my Plant Spirit Medicine healing practice is the beauty of transformation. Similar to the peeling of an onion, layers fall off and the innate radiance, beauty and ease of a person’s spirit begins to be revealed. As they come into balance and harmony, conditions, issues and situations that previously had a hold on them become less relevant, less stressful. When I step into my center as a spiritual healer and am about to collaborate with the plants to offer a Plant Spirit Medicine treatment, I go into this inner space of transformation which informs me always. This place is rich, nourishing and humbling. It always moves me and at times brings up questions. It inspired this poem:
So who am I
Am I my dreams, my hopes my expectations?
Am I what I do? My work? My purpose?
Am I truly infinite, unbounded potential?
My sisters’/ brothers’ keeper?
Who am I
This tiny fleck?
Am I my times’ medicine person?
Or am I only my deepest doubt?
Who am I
Egret in flight
Drum in raptured cadence
Ember about to (yet again) combust.
– Adrilia V. Pedersen
I met the shaman in his Tuki, a sacred living structure and treatment room. The smoke and scent of the fire were grounding, comforting, centering. My heart began to melt. Now I could really listen. After talking for a while, the shaman asked about the activities in my work day. Hearing how many hours I spent on a computer, he said that every day I needed to stop what I was doing and go outside, to be out in nature. “Bundle up if you have to, and go. Every day.”
In my mid-twenties, a friend and I decided to leave everything behind and go cross-country. We drove for months, living in different places. I remember Sedona, really well. Somehow the veil of reality had lifted. Life as we thought we knew it was not the answer. There was so much more to life, to spirit, to healing, to connecting. The chance to explore our country, its plants, animals, its Nature called us forward. Plants, omens, birds, fish, four-leggeds were our beacons, our guides. We read the signs and on we went. And it deeply transformed our lives. It was that time that probably paved the way for my Plant Spirit Medicine healing practice.
I know people who love gadgets and who work in technology. In order to “find themselves,” find their meaning, they often have to leave work, family, old lives behind and either motorcycle cross country, or go on a retreat in the woods, or take up a sport that forces them to be out in nature.
The curse and the blessing of technology
During my day, I can do so much more because of technology. I love the gadgets. I use them. A lot. I am hugely productive thanks to them. But, I’m not at all convinced this way of life is better. The tradeoffs are huge. Yes, I can connect with many people online and reach out. I can find answers and run business from anywhere. But I have less time for meaningful conversations in person or on the phone. Being productive still puts me (and keeps me) in front of a computer much too much.
Back to the shaman’s advice
Though I have felt very inspired by blogs, videos and online music … none of it compares to the sense of profound healing and rightness I feel while going for a walk on the snow during a pitch dark evening. None of it compares to the heartbeat I felt when I came face to face with the presence of my first mountain in Caracas. Or to the involuntary gasp on experiencing my first ever snowfall in Paxton my freshman year. Or to the power of coming face to face with a hawk after hearing a rustling outside my apartment. Being in contact with Nature, with the Earth, with its beings and creatures heals us. Profoundly. It nourishes us, It transforms us. It opens us. It affects us in ways we cannot even verbalize. It addresses, spot on, our desire for meaning, for connection.
How Plant Spirit Medicine helps us heal
It is precisely this hunger for connection and balance that Plant Spirit Medicine begins to address. It happens gradually and organically. So beautifully – just like in nature. A patient comes with a complaint. They understand we are not treating the symptoms but rather allowing their own Self to come into harmony and balance. At the end of the treatment, they often feel uplifted, held, relieved. This goes on and on. Changes begin to happen. The plant spirits take them by the hand, so to speak, and help them to see more clearly those things in their lives that bring balance and healing and those things that zap their energy. It is a dance, a flow, a conversation. It is a beautiful natural, sacred, gentle process. Witnessing the healing and generosity of the plant spirits is forever magnificent, forever humbling.
As stated on my previous post I believe we chose to be alive exactly at this time in the Earth’s development for the opportunity to live in many dimensions at once; to observe, learn and transform; to accelerate our spiritual growth, our compassion and our readiness to help guide the Earth and its people.
Being alive in our planet right now in 2012 is not so easy
I’m sure you’ve noticed this. We feel everything accelerating around us. I mean, 2012 is off to a very rapid start. We feel the pull of our daily routines, work and obligations, along with the thirst of our soul and the call in our hearts to find and get busy accomplishing our life purpose. And, whereas in the past we may have handled these issues alone, now the rules have changed. Now, it seems the only way to be effective is by involving others, asking for help. Real progress today takes a village, a community and real support.
How do we support ourselves in the middle of these changes and as we transform?
- Realize that the rapid acceleration (spiritual and physical) of our lives is a reality. We are not imagining it – it is happening.
- Be kind and gentle with yourself. We must be flexible with ourselves and be compassionate towards ourselves and others – we are all in the same boat. As I always remind my Plant Spirit Medicine patients, we must rest when we feel tired. We must grieve when we feel the tears come – even if we don’t know why we are grieving . We are all trying to sort it out. We must also support ourselves with exercise, plenty of water, time outdoors and with healthy, vibrant, locally-grown (if possible) foods.
- Listen to your inner guidance. There is a place within you, that place you access when you listen to an amazing piece of music, that place you touch when you meditate or pray. It holds guidance, secrets and support. It is in us, but to access it we must ask and listen.
- Realize that he path through all of this lies in community, in asking for help, in getting the healing we need and require, not in doing it alone. We must get support, tend to our bodies, minds and spirits. We must seek to integrate, clear and re-balance more often than ever. It is now not a nice-to-have but a requirement. Alternative healing practices can be a huge support. Plant Spirit Medicine healing can support not only your body and your mind but also your spirit as you integrate, learn and move forward with new purpose. Gathering with friends or around a fire does wonders. Community rituals can be a great support.
- Celebrate. Often, fear of the unknown causes us to tense up, to wear our armor. This is not what’s called for. We are on the verge of a new way of life. Allow yourself to celebrate that possibility. It is, after all, why we wanted to be alive precisely now in this day and age. The new way of life is one of community, inclusivity, compassion and people coming together to heal and support each other and the Earth. It is such a great privilege to be alive, to have a body, to be able to think, dream, act, make a difference, right here, right now. If THAT isn’t cause for celebration and rejoicing, I do not know what is.
I can relate to the child I once was and see her in a different time and place. But it’s more than a memory – it’s as if all my life had undergone a huge transformation – a series of rebirths in this lifetime. I can also see who I was in my 20’s — my work, relationships, challenges then. The person I was then is definitely not the person I’m now. We generally think of karma and lifetimes as requiring dying and reincarnating, but I don’t think that’s necessarily the case anymore. I believe that, right now, we are living many lifetimes within this one. It happens as a life-leap.
How we life-leap, reinvent ourselves, transform
I’m sure you’ve had a sense of this in your life already. Some have called it “reinventing ourselves.” Sometimes a huge life-leap happens when we get fed up and decide we need a new start. Sometimes it happens through contact with a true, powerful teacher. At other times, health challenges and difficult experiences make us reach the depths of our soul and question life’s meaning. Often, life-leaps happen because of loss: loss of a relationship, loss of a way of thinking, loss of a loved one who passes away.
The Heart Connection and transformation
In a sense, life-leaps happen every time our hearts break. Our hearts are amazing. They do break, but then, as they mend they become larger, more compassionate, stronger. Every time we decide to open our heart yet again and keep going, something in us is re-born and we enter into a new way of being, a new perspective, we begin to live a new lifetime. Healing the heart means, in a sense, a new life.
A gift of this lifetime on Earth; a soul agreement
But now, this acceleration, these life-leaps are one of the gifts of our time on Earth. These quickenings allow us to process and absorb more rapidly all that is happening around us. We’re constantly dealing with new information, new developments, the bubbling up of new dreams, desires, wishes and the true purpose within ourselves. This is a gift of our time. A gift to help us assimilate and integrate knowledge and experience. And, believe it or not, we chose to be alive exactly at this time in the Earth’s development because of this opportunity: to be able to live in many dimensions at once; to observe, learn and transform; to accelerate our spiritual growth, our compassion and our readiness to help guide the Earth and our people.
We chose to be alive on Earth at this time so we could be stewards to a new way of life, more heart-centered, more compassionate, more respectful of the Earth, the Sky, the Weather Beings … all sentient beings. This is all part of our soul agreement.
My life has been deeply affected by this medicine. I first heard about Plant Spirit Medicine (PSM) in 2005 while living in Oregon. My precious dog had just died, a relationship had ended, my eyes had been swollen shut for weeks as a result of an infection. While all this was going on, all I could do was pray. Pray for the pain to be lifted. Pray to be able to “see” whatever I was not seeing, whatever I was missing. Then, “by chance” I was able to go to a workshop that Eliot Cowan was teaching. I was pretty low and was not going to attend, but … a friend had a dream the night before the workshop. She insisted I NEEDED to go; so I did.
During the Rekindle Workshop I was deeply moved by the teacher, Eliot Cowan. As one of my other friends who attended said, “he doesn’t look like a shaman; he looks more like a lawyer.” But his love of plants, his love of people, his devotion to healing, his humility and directness spoke volumes to me … not just to my mind but to my heart.
Since that time, I have had the great fortune of studying with this remarkable healer. I have graduated as a PSM healer and now have a small practice out a home office. I can thoroughly say that I have never encountered a healing modality more powerful, more effective and more subtle for lifting off pathology and for helping to heal others by bringing their body, mind and spirit into better balance. It isn’t a woo-woo thing. It is well-grounded, real, serious healing practice. It is remarkably transformative and effective. The healing methodology uses traditional Chinese Medicine as a diagnostic tool and then delivers healing from the spirit of the plants to the spirit of a person. My colleague Chris Griffin says it beautifully on his blog post on PSM.
All around the country and the world, we now have PSM healers doing work quietly, devotedly and with great integrity. Cultivating right relationship with the spirits of plants and with the world around us is part and parcel of our work as healers. In addition, PSM healers also have “day jobs.” We are business owners, trainers, lawyers, programmers, consultants, physicians, landscape artists, you name it. We bring our healing acumen and stance into everything we do.
One day, like Chiropractors, Acupuncturists, Osteopaths we will be recognized by the mainstream. Until then, I wanted to do my small part at recognizing and celebrating this medicine and the people who share it with others, transforming many lives in the process. For more information about Plant Spirit Medicine, Eliot Cowan or to explore taking the healing course, please visit the PSM website.
Your comments, questions are welcome.
People who inspire us with their hearts, work and actions are the heroes of our time. It is they who remind us to think in terms of possibility; to go after our dreams. Lubosh is like that.
When Lubosh bought his home in North Portland, he transformed it in record time. He could see the hidden potential in the home. I visited his “work-in-progress” home and was amazed at how beautiful, open, charming, inviting it was. His comment at the time? “Well, it needs a garden.”
The garden came a little bit later and has now matured into a glorious place of community, deep nourishment and great beauty. He grows lots of food for himself and to share with others, and makes time to do it. To me, all this was a testament to his intuition and belief. You see? Lubosh is a designer, an artist, a musician … but he is also an alchemist. He watches, observes, appreciates. He tends carefully and then he asks, “Hm, what’s needed next?”.
I wonder what would happen if we learned to do this in our businesses, in our work teams, in our relationships. If we focused, stayed open, worked hard but always asked that question “What’s needed next?” and we listened. And if we then followed through. Miracles, transformation, amazing working relationships. That’s what would happen … and in an organic, gentle way.
In the case of Lubosh, what was needed next was chickens! Yes, in Portland. Yes, in an urban area. And so he set about researching, designing, building and creating yet another work of art. Click the link to explore this chicken coop unlike any other.
In the process he has shown us what is possible, he is taking a stance for organic healthy nutritious living in the city, all along following his intuition and doing what he feels is best. To me, he is a hero.
Marshland experts in Louisiana say the grasses and the marshes will heal … that micro organisms and bacteria in the water can and will get to work breaking down the oil to restore balance and heal the area. So the wisdom of the plants, the living organisms and nature will eventually heal the marshes.
This news brings me back to a swim in the ocean in Manzanillo, Mexico. Something in the water stung me and I ran out of the water in extreme pain. At the edge of the water was a little old man. He said he would help me. He said, “You see, for every injury that happens in this water, the remedy grows right here,” and he proceeded to grab some grasses growing on a sandy hill. He took those grasses inside and mashed them, then told me to apply them to my leg. And … as my Plant Spirit Medicine teacher don Eliot likes to say: “Santo Remedio” — all healed.
I do believe nature will restore balance to Itself. I just hope the damage is not too huge and that those powerful and rich ecosystems can once again be whole. I was surprised to hear that those of us wanting to volunteer are being told to not travel to those areas. In the marshes, volunteers were in some cases doing more harm by treading untrained through these natural habitats in an attempt to clean oil off the grasses. Plus, finding accommodations presents another problem for the communities. And finally, oil is highly toxic and harmful. If untrained, if not a vet, if not used to handling toxic cleanup … we are being asked to stay home.
Still, the truth is we are failing in our stewardship of these blessed resources and beings who are responsible for our food, water, health. I know we can begin to change this on a massive scale. There are people making conscious choices every day to be less dependent on oil, more appreciative of everything we have, more interested in cultivating right relationship with the natural world around us.
At a time when it is easy to despair, we need to gather together and begin to make a difference on behalf of our planet and its many amazing beings. We are miracles. We can do this.
How can we begin to change?
Took mom to the airport this morning. It was really tough to say good-bye. I haven’t spent very much time with her in about a year and wasn’t ready to see her leave. Driving home I started thinking about the power of unconditional love, the power of community. My heart was full with my mom’s visit and now I was experiencing a deep sense of loss. Part of it was the freedom and healing of being with this very special person who completely “gets” me, knows what I’m about and accepts me just as I am. This is what we find when we find true community. When we find, as Seth Godin says, our Tribe – that group(s) of people with whom we resonate, connect, enjoy being around. Those who “get” who we are, and who honor and celebrate (or at least accept) who we truly are. Finding such a community can transform our life.
At my brother’s wedding in St. Lucia, we saw a beautiful tribe in action. Omar and Dani were surrounded by their closest friends, they shared the wedding week in celebration and without issues and it was fabulous to see the sweetness, honesty, respect and the beautiful bond between them. It was dazzling and inspiring.
Sometimes we can experience this in our workplace or our office. I’ve worked with amazing creative teams where everyone was working towards a goal and having a blast doing it! Magic happened on the pages of the catalogs … and in people’s hearts. This is not always easy to create in a work environment, but when it is there … that community … that team spirit … that shared vision… it’s a winning combo for the business, the projects, the customers and the staff.
Some of us join religious groups, clubs, sports organizations to experience community — to basically hang out with like-minded people who have a shared purpose — yes, even if that purpose is just “hanging out”. There’s actually great value in that. Great value for our hearts who seek, quite naturally, connection. Great value for our health when we are in community. We may not even notice it, but when we are with our tribe, with our true community, we feel free — free to be who we truly are. Our hearts begin to open, our minds begin to open, we experience a feeling of contentment, and all our cells, neurons, synapses begin to vibrate and work in a harmonious way. Communities can and do heal. The mere fact of being able to talk to someone, a kindred spirit, and share something true from deep within, is immensely healing.
Our modern life in our beautiful country has unfortunately become an exercise in independence, loneliness and isolation for many people. Neighbors don’t relate. People want to be left alone. We have grown suspicious of each other. At the office, many compete rather than collaborate. Instead of customer service and customer empathy, overworked and unappreciated employees adopt attitudes of “us” versus “them”. We have a high standard of living, but a very low standard of true connection. Crises can wake us up momentarily and propel us to action. It’s sad but true that it requires a tragedy for us to see, grieve, hear and commune with each other. To drop the masks and the shields and the suits of armor and be real. And relate from the heart.
Finding a community where we can be seen, heard and be ourselves is a huge gift. Whether it’s our family, whether it’s our spiritual gathering place, whether it’s our office or our neighborhood … we must find it if we want to begin to heal ourselves and in the process help heal our organizations, our relationships and our world.