Plant Spirit Healing is an integrated approach to health that uses the healing power of plants to restore balance. When our natural balance is disturbed we manifest symptoms in body, mind, and spirit. By addressing the root cause of our symptoms, whether elementally or energetically, plants can give us what we need to restore harmony in our lives.
Being in harmony with the seasons and knowing what to expect from the different times of year can go a long way to helping us stay in balance.
As we move into Spring we begin to feel our life-force reawaken, just as the plants begin to push their way through the earth and the animals come out of hibernation. This is a time for visioning our future. Just as an acorn becomes an oak tree, we too must have a seed-plan if we hope to manifest our potential. This season is related to the Wood element of Chinese medicine and is a time when the yang begins to rise.
In Summer we move to a time of fuller expression. The long days give us more time to connect and enjoy pleasure with friends and family. Life force energy, which began to awaken in Spring, becomes more manifest; flowers blossom, fruits ripen and everything is at its peak of expression. This season is related to the fire element, a time when the yang energy is at its peak.
As Summer turns into Fall we have a point of balance between yin and yang. This season is related to the Earth element. This is the time of harvest. Those long beautiful Indian Summer days are a manifestation of the balance between yin and yang, light and dark.
Fall brings cold crisp days. The leaves fall off the trees and become the soil for next year’s growth. At this time our energy begins to turn inward. This season is related to the Metal element, and is a time of pruning things down to their bare essence. This is a time when the yin energy takes precedence.
Finally at the Winter Solstice we enter the Water phase. Energy moves deeply inward. Despite the apparent lifelessness of the natural world, the seed potential is waiting under the surface for rebirth in the Spring. This is an introspective and reflective time and if we truly honor this phase we will maintain our reserves instead of wasting them.
In China prevention was the goal and in some cases doctors were kept on retainer to keep the family healthy. If someone got sick they were not paid until the person was well. I like to think of Plant Spirit Healing as preventative medicine. But more than that, it supports who we are in our highest manifestation.
Spring: Time of Renewal, Creativity and Growth
As we move into spring, we collectively experience an upward movement of life force energy. Days become longer, and Nature begins to awaken after a time of relative dormancy. This shift toward a more outward manifestation of energy (or Yang) gives rise to movement, creativity and growth. In Chinese Medicine, this season is related to the Wood element. There is more growth during this season than at any other time of year.
During winter, energy is consolidated in the seeds that lie dormant beneath the earth. As days become warmer, plants begins their journey toward the light. Sometimes they receive what they need for growth, while other times they are hindered on their journey. As the plants push their way upward, they may encounter obstacles. We have all seen spring flowers poking their colorful heads up one day only to be covered by a blanket of snow the next.
We humans are not so different and can take a lesson from the plant world. The unpredictable nature of this time can give rise to many difficult emotional states; namely anger, impatience, frustration, and depression. Cultivating flexibility and patience is key to overcoming these imbalanced emotional states.
Keeping our bodies flexible can help keep our minds flexible, which in turn keeps our emotional life balanced. If you find yourself cranky and irritable take a walk or do a form of exercise that you enjoy. By the time you finish you may not be able to remember why you were so angry. And even if you do remember, you will have more awareness and be able to take the actions that are needed to resolve the issue.
Spring-cleaning is ritual that arises at this time of year. This is also the best time to do a spring cleanse. One way to do that is by eating less, or even doing a simple fast. You can start the day with an herbal brew of liver cleansing herbs (Burdock Root, Dandelion Root, Milk Thistle, to name a few), or put lemon juice in your water bottle to cleanse the system. Greens nourish the liver, whose job it is to moving our Qi (chi).
Creativity is greatly enhanced during this season. Pay attention to your dreams as unconscious seeds sprout into conscious awareness. Having a vision is the first step in manifesting our goals. Only when we have clarified our intent can we begin the process of bringing our dreams into fruition. We must also prepare the soil and create the proper conditions for growth. This is the time to celebrate rebirth by nourishing the seeds that we have planted.
The Medicine Wheel
Shamanism goes back over 40,000 years and refers to the study of our relationship to life force energy. There is no separation between Spirit and Nature in this tradition.
The Medicine Wheel shows up in many Shamanic traditions. It acts as a mirror reflection of the Universe, showing us the interdependence of all things and one’s relationship to all things. It is symbolic of how we cycle through life. It teaches us that life is cyclical, without beginning or end.
The Medicine Wheel is a circle of knowledge that gives one power over one’s life. (A person’s ‘medicine’ is their personal power). The Medicine Wheel offers us a sacred container to view ourselves from within. As we invite the powers of the Universe into the Medicine Wheel we receive different reflections of who we are. It is a mirror of both the individual personality self and of the true Self. It shows us our strengths and our weaknesses. In working with the Medicine Wheel our weaknesses become opportunities and our mistakes lessons.
The Medicine Wheel is often represented by stones as an encircled cross. The circle represents that which contains all life, while the cross represents the source of all life. The stones in the Medicine Wheel represent the elements and powers of the Universe. The stones placed in each of the Cardinal directions are considered gates, each of which has powerful energies associated with it. The South is the place of the child, the qualities of innocence and trust; the West is associated with deep transformation, introspection and intuition; the North, the place of mastery, brings wisdom and knowledge; and the East is the place of Spirit, bringing illumination and enlightenment.
The Medicine Wheel is one way to connect not only with Spirit and Nature but also with our deeper Self. It helps us to understand ourselves, to find meaning and purpose in our lives, and to gain mastery over our lives. It teaches us that life is change. Because the future is fashioned in the present out of the fabric of the past, we can change our future by healing the past, thereby changing our current thinking and our attitudes.
I remember reading about recapitulation in Carlos Castaneda’s books and thinking that it sounded like something that I would like to try. A few years ago I attended a 10-day ‘Silent Power’ intensive that was geared to this process. I have found it to be a very useful tool, both personally and professionally.
Negative ‘internal dialogue’ is the brain’s response to conflicts, which arise from unresolved experiences that have an underlying emotional component. The brain naturally organizes similar thoughts together. Each memory strand has a baseline emotional component. Memory strands of similar emotional memories are linked together in a chain. Following the path back to the time before the pattern began brings new awareness to the pattern, and can help bring resolution and a new sense of well-being.
In brief, the thought form recapitulation process not only restructures how the brain thinks when in automatic and unconscious modes (i.e. the tapes we play over and over), but it also resolves the underlying emotional conflicts that created our ‘internal dialogue’ in the first place. Through resolution of these conflicts the ego stops its defensiveness and becomes silent. The “I” that comes from the karmic ego is replaced by the dharmic or transcended ego, (which doesn’t need to defend or prove anything).
Recapitulating these strands of memory helps us get to the bottom of the conflicts that underlie them. These underlying conflicts must be resolved in order to silence our ‘internal dialogue’. This is done by traveling back to the time before the pattern began. These recurring patterns can be “core beliefs”, such as statements that we heard as children, or any of the “core emotions” such as sadness, pain, anxiety, anger, shame, frustration, helplessness, aloneness, self-pity, worry, grief, doubt, jealousy and so on. Fear is often an underlying issue.
Recapitulation helps you see the underlying emotional/mental pattern as you trace it to its origin and beyond. It brings awareness to the patterns that keep us ‘re-acting’ to life instead of being present in the moment. Using the recapitulation breath we contact the strands of thought that are connected on the in-breath and release them on the out breath. We simply trust what shows up as we trace these patterns back to their origin and before. When you reach the time before this pattern began there is often a break-through when you realize the illusion that you have been living under. This new awareness replaces the original delusion and we are able to retrieve energy that has been caught up in keeping it in place.
Initially recapitulation is done in pairs. However when the process has been learned sufficiently, you can easily do it by your self.