Integrity, Gratitude, Explore, Cultivate
Inspired through the power the last full moon, I decorated several rocks with words in vibrant painted colors and designs. In light of the great power of language and training our minds to move toward a one-pointed focus, the next day I invited students to participate in yoga class while choosing a rock and by simply placing it on their mats. As we practiced, I had the opportunity to glimpse the beauty of each yogi submerged in deep presence while they soulfully poured their attention into their practice with their focus towards the word on their rock. During the class, I observed each student being true artists of their own practice. They became the caretakers of their own inner sacred space tending to the needs of their unique and growing garden. As they embodied the mantra painted on the rock like choreographers of life’s greatest dance, it was a great reminder to me of the personal unfolding of my journey with plant medicine. There can be so much magic in our approach to these healing modalities. Different as each modality is (energy work, body work, nutrition, plant medicine, yoga, etc), each requires artistry that requests deep dedication and cultivation of subtle awareness to approach our lives with such intention.
This experience is a great reminder of the numerous approaches of how to practice plant medicine. Learning to incorporate plant medicine into our lives is like becoming an artist of the sacred. When we work with the plants we are influencing the sacred. We are caretaking the heart of the sacred. With humility and reverence, we can connect with the plants and ask them for their medicines. We revere them as the sentient beings they are. We nurture and grow our relationships with them. Indigenous cultures practice(d) this in their everyday lives. Everything we do affects everything else. We are all related. All living beings depend on each other. Working with plant medicine is a living, breathing daily awareness that grows as we mindfullly cultivate our relationships with the plants. It is being conscious caretakers of our moment to moment that can promote positive influence upon our greater community.
In my opinion, plant medicine is more than emphasizing the idea that “this plant is used for a stomachache” and “this plant is for a cough”. Working with plant medicine for healing invites us to be artists of the sacred. To do this, Doug eloquently reminds us, “When we use plants as medicine it is important not to just think of them as substances, but as people who are helping us. Being with the plants in this way is being in relationship with them. Not a relationship that is going to last five minutes, but a lifetime of relationship with the plant nation, the plant people. We all are capable of knowing the plants intimately and learning from them how to use their medicines.” For me, this teaching has been the most pivotal shift in participating in the sacred. Shifting out of relating to the plants as substances into regarding the plant nation as the living, sentient beings that they truly are. It is an ancient practice that holds wisdom of thousands and thousands of years.
As I was deeply inspired by the students of this particular yoga class, I am reminded how we can all be artists of the sacred by developing subtle awareness through cultivating lifelong relationships. The more we care take and approach our lives as being empowered artisans of our inner landscape, the more we can take responsibility for maintaining harmonious relationships with the plants and all sentient beings.