How to Receive the Gifts of Plants (and Life)

How to Receive the Gifts of Plants (and Life)

Receive what comes to you.
My plant spirit teacher taught me that plants that will heal me will come to me. All I need to do is receive.  Receiving – coming into relationship and taking that in, however – takes a little preparation.
Those of you who read my newsletter know that my family had quite a struggle through the winter with a life-threatening illness – happily we’re on the mend and the dark rider passed us by (sheesh!). Through that time I cut way back on work – we lived on air and the love of family and friends. We are resting and integrating that experience. This morning it dawned on me that my garden this year has serious messages for me and mine.
Is this obvious enough?

This mullein plant (the tall fellow in the back) sprung up smack dab where my usual sunflowers gather. Hi mullein. Guess what mullein does, on the energetic level? It is protector of home and supporter of abundance, among other things.
Other plants that have nearly overwhelmed us with no input from me are calendula – a beautiful healing fire plant (it’s the yellow-orange flower up front), borage (that blue fellow) a 5th chakra healer of communication for me, and dill. So much dill (again a protector of home an supporter of abundance). Oh, and a bumper crop of wild strawberries are right outside my office – food for my indigenous genetics. I could go on and on, but will stop there.
Get the message, Annie?
These plants are three feet from my front door. All I have to do is receive their support.

How to Receive the Support of Plants

So, how do you receive the support of the plants that make their way to you?
In order to participate in any ecological system (and plants belong to an ecological system along with you) meaning that there are complex dynamic inter-relationships, you first need to get out of a consumer mindset. We humans and certainly Americans get into consuming – eating as fuel or in a mechanistic way, for example. Instead, think of a plant as another being. A person, if that’s helpful. Or think of them as akin to a power-animal or guide. You might thing of eating as receiving – rather than consuming.
Then, get quiet and open your heart. One easy way to do this is to sit quietly, and lengthen and deepen you breath (without forcing it – let your breath deepen as in response to an invitation). You might imagine yourself seated in the velvety dark cave of your own heart. take a few moments to quiet and center yourself in this way.
Next, make contact with the plants. Be among them, breathe them in. Admire them. If they are edible, slowly and mindfully, as a meditation, taste them. Breath and relax, and notice how it feels to commune with the plants in this way.
The practice of receiving is simply the practice of being open and feeling how it feels to be in relationship. The practice of receiving is a practice of appreciation – of acknowledging, as my teacher would say, your place in the magnificent web of life and nature. All is well.
As you receive the gifts these friends, these guides have for you, expressing gratitude is an excellent next step if it feels right for you. Take a moment to appreciate what’s happened, a few notes in a journal may be helpful, and off you go on a blessed day.
You can receive the gifts of any part of your life – be it your yoga or meditation practice, the love of a friend, the good work you do, anything you enjoy or find interesting or challenging in your life – can you receive it? Can you slow down enough to take it in?

Benefits of the Practice

Learning to have a bit more of this in your life can help you to understand your place in the ecology – in the interactive web of life – in which you live, and that you have created. It may help you see aspects of life, or things in your life that no longer serve you or that actually injure or inhibit you. You can let go of those things. Learning to be a little more receptive can inform your next step.
Be well, and here are a couple other posts that may interest you:
How Mindful Presence Transforms
Mindful Eating: The Art & Science of Eating Better

Subtle Body Nourishment: Benefits of Learning the Art & Science of Energy

Subtle Body Nourishment: Benefits of Learning the Art & Science of Energy

Getting the balance of eating and yoga practice down is a challenge for anyone. We overdo it, we under-do it, we practice when we’re full. We under-eat and don’t have the energy to perform. Sigh. Our energy, as well as our hunger peaks and valleys – getting it right is a dynamic dance.
Understanding and experiencing your own subtle body (in yoga, that includes your thoughts, intuition and energy bodies) takes practice. When you practice skillful navigation of your subtle body, particularly balanced with the knowledge of your nutritional needs, it can help prevent you from falling off a nutritional cliff of over- or under- doing it. This is especially handy once you begin the esoteric energy practices and learn that you have greater control over hunger and satiety that you’d realized. Then, having the wisdom of science to anchor you in adequacy is even more important to maintaining physical health.
That’s subtle body nourishment.

 Why Bother? Benefits of Energy Practice

When you learn eating meditation techniques you are learning how to turn inward and participate in your body’s guidance systems – you have the option of taking more control –  be it breath or eating or even thinking. That’s what all the hoopla is about. If we don’t understand that we are taking the steering wheel of hunger and satiety, it’s easy to under-eat once prana (life force, or energy as in your breath) starts expanding and getting excited. Then, it’s easy to overeat through your inevitable energy contraction.
Many a yogini seems to get into eating trouble when learning these more esoteric practices. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Life is an energy experience. Meditative practices are energy practices, and require that you spend time within your inner landscape – the more time you spend there exploring and curious, the better you will know and be able to navigate that landscape.
By learning how to operate your own subtle body, you can ultimately better navigate the chaos without getting overwhelmed by static. You can operate in a more intentional way.
This sort of practice brings consciousness to your personal energy ecology; the conditions under which you shine, for example.
Energy practice, meditation, mindfulness can help you learn how to improve your digestion – how to basically give your bodies what it needs (time and calm, primarily) to digest properly.

What is the Subtle Body?

In yoga philosophy, the subtle body is the aspect of you that is unseen by the human eye. It includes your thoughts and emotions, the wisdom aspect of you – your intuition, and your energy body.
The subtle body profoundly determines how you feel, react and respond to the world around us. When you learn how to guide your own thoughts, for example, you can literally change your perception of your own life. When you learn to ground your energy body, you can handle the spiral of chaos that the world at times seems to be, rooting in the real rather than swirling away in yet another frenzied tweet.

Food & Yoga Practice

The truth of the matter is that everyone is different – physically but also nutritionally. How well you can perform right after you eat, and the ideal makeup of a meal to fuel your practice is individual. There are, however, guidelines – rules of the road. Ayurveda practitioners say that certain foods create certain energies. Western science has their own version of the same idea – in a very different language. The language of macro and micro nutrition, and meal timing.
Ultimately, the way to figure out what works for you is to do the experiment. Notice how it works for you.
I’ve been thinking about subtle body nourishment and how food and practice interact in preparation for a gathering of souls at Kripalu July 8-11, Sunday through Wednesday morning. If these topics get interest you, consider joining me to practice, explore and learn about what the yogis and Western nutrition has to say about it.
Be well, practice on.


Healing with Everyday Ecstasy: Your Transcendent Birthright

Healing with Everyday Ecstasy: Your Transcendent Birthright

Healing with Everyday Ecstasy by Annie B Kay -
Not MDMA (though I do understand that when used skillfully, it can be a healer). I’m talking about life. Transcendent moments are our birthright. Moments of everyday ecstasy and wonder.
Everyday ecstasy is why I do yoga. It’s why I meditate and why I enjoy/suffer through the ups and downs of these long-term contemplative practices as my body ages, coming back over and over and over again. To taste that nectar of a momentary unitive state. The sweetness, the soma that is our birthright. Mind-body practices like yoga build resilience, in part because of how good a moment of unitive consciousness feels.
It’s why I’m studying plant spirit healing and plant initiations. I learn about how plants heal through (in addition to the regular study of plant medicine) non-ordinary conscious connection. My apprenticeship in plant spirits taught me how to listen deeply to plants and nature. To find and follow the golden thread that connects us.

Mindful Transcending

One definition of mindfulness is focusing on something (almost anything) to the point of complete absorption. We fall into deep wonder with whatever we are focusing on, allowing ourselves a moment of ecstatic clarity. When we practice mindfulness or communion with a moment, it gives us the ability to transcend. We can transcend the muddy muck of the day and see things in a different light. Transcending is excellent for supporting healthy behavior change. And it’s fun.
Ken Wilber says altered states become permanent traits through repetition and integration. I have journeyed in alchemical divinations and I have journeyed with the breath and music, with shaman and with plants. Each route is sweet and lovely and challenging and took me face to face with the wonder of this one wackily precious and miraculous life. No polluting drugs are necessary, and that’s a bit of a secret. You have everything you need to transcend right inside your own sweet little body. In fact, I find as I get older that I’m so sensitive to substances in general, that it’s just easier to go au natural.

Plant Spirit Healing

My shamanic study with plant spirit healing has been key to a certain awakening. Through this work, I’ve gotten to know a number of plants personally. To me, Tulsi is a red-haired woman with flowing green robes, a sister I go shopping with at the celestial power object store. To me, she is the full pantheon of goddesses of the yoga tradition. Yes, she’s Durga AND Lakshmi AND Kali and everyone else wrapped into one beautiful mega-goddess that if we give half a chance, might just save the entire planet, or show us the way. St. John’s Wort is golden light. If light could be a food, it would be St. John’s Wort for me. I can use the nourishment of this ally, particularly in the dark months of winter. Please be advised that what each of these plants is for me is not what they will be for you. I am not recommending them for all. This type of experience, however, getting to know a plant on a personal energetic level, bestows a different type of healing. It is a type of healing much needed today: earth-centric energy healing.
If this sounds a little “out there” to you, yes it is a bit. For many of you, sensation seekers and those who already talk to plants, for example, it’s not at all. There is a growing body of science to support the healing power of everyday ecstasy.
Later this year I will be offering an opportunity for you take a taste – to experience this work more deeply and see for yourself how it supports health and healing…stay tuned.
Happy Holidays and remember to fall into reverie whenever you get the chance!
Healing with Everyday Ecstasy by Annie B Kay -