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Sitting with Plants: A Practice of Connection with Plants

Last week I wrote about the "Gentle Art of Foraging," and this week I want to share a practice that I do (and share with my students) on every foraging trip.


Engaging deeply with nature involves more than just walking through it—it requires thoughtful and immersive interaction. One enriching practice is to sit quietly with plants. This simple yet profound activity can transform your understanding of the natural world and foster a unique form of communication between you and the flora around you.


white wild flowers next to a stream with rocks

Finding Your Spot

Choose a location where nature thrives. It could be a dense forest, a vibrant meadow, a secluded corner of a local park,, or even a space where you can be undisturbed in your backyard or garden. Look for a spot that feels welcoming and alive with plant activity. Once there, allow yourself to settle in and become a part of the landscape. Sit on the ground if possible, to enhance your connection with the earth. I like to take off my shoes and let my feet connect with the earth below me.


Engage Your Senses

Begin by closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths. Tune into the natural soundscape—birdsong, the rustle of leaves, the whisper of the wind, the hum of insects. Open your eyes and observe the diversity around you. Notice the different shades of green, the patterns of the leaves, and the textures of the bark. Touch the plants gently, if within reach, feeling their leaves and flowers, noting the variety in sensations.


woman sitting on a log surrounded by plants with river in background

Ask with Your Heart

Send out a gentle ask to the plants and trees around you - ask which one might like to communicate with you. Send the ask out through your heart-space or your solar plexus and not with your head. These areas are energy centers in your body that can more easily communicate with plants. Be open and wait patiently, and don't force it. Often, you will notice that one plant is interested in a dialog, but remember the message can be subtle. Don't second-guess yourself. If you feel there isn't one that wants to talk, thank them, just the same, and try again later. Don't get discouraged, if this is your first time, it might take a little time for you to feel the sensation.


Open to Plant Communication or Connection with Plants

As you sit quietly with the plant, allow your surroundings to fade into the background, focusing your senses on this one being before you. Close your eyes for a moment and breathe deeply, establishing a receptive state of mind. When you open your eyes, connect with the plant not just as a part of the landscape but as a living entity with its own story and purpose.


Invite the plant to share what it would like with you. You might receive impressions about its healing properties—perhaps it offers relief for a common ailment within your family or it could serve as a nutritional supplement. These messages might come as sudden insights, a felt sense of knowing, or even as visual cues from the plant itself, such as a leaf's vibrant color suggesting its vitality-boosting abilities.


Stay open to the idea that the plant can communicate its role in your life, whether it's for healing, nourishment, or spiritual enrichment. Trust that whatever you perceive is what you might need to discover at this moment. This connection is about tuning in to the natural wisdom offered by the plant, allowing it to guide you towards how it can best serve you and your loved ones.


When you feel you are finished, thank the plant for its wisdom. I like to give a gift of gratitude with a little water, or a sprinkle of corn meal around the soil.


sketching plants in a sketchbook

Reflect and Record

After spending time with the plant, take a moment to reflect on your experience. Many foragers and nature enthusiasts find it helpful to keep a journal of their observations and feelings. Writing down what you sensed and thought during your sit can deepen your connection and understanding of the plants you encountered.


I also love to draw the plant. After spending time in receptive communication with the plant, you might want to transition to reflecting and recording your experience through drawing. This act is not just about creating an artistic representation but is an extension of the listening process. As you sketch the plant, focus on capturing its intricate details—each line and curve can offer deeper insights into its character and healing properties. Drawing encourages a slower, more considered observation which can reveal subtleties that casual observation might miss. Perhaps the way the leaves are veined speaks to its resilience, or the vibrancy of its flowers suggests its potent medicinal benefits. This visual and physical engagement with the plant can deepen your understanding and help solidify the intuitive knowledge you've received, making it a meaningful part of your personal herbal lore.


Make Sitting with Plants a Regular Practice

Incorporate sitting with plants into your routine as a regular practice. Each visit to your chosen natural spot allows you to deepen your understanding and strengthen your connection to the natural world. Over time, these quiet moments of communion with nature can become a sanctuary for reflection and peace.


As you make this a habitual activity, you’ll notice more than just an improvement in your foraging skills. The consistent practice of observing, drawing, and communicating with plants enhances your sensory awareness and attunes you to the subtle changes in the environment. This heightened awareness can lead to greater appreciation of the smaller, often overlooked wonders of nature, enriching your daily life.


Moreover, this practice offers profound benefits for your spiritual and emotional well-being. It acts as a form of meditation, helping to clear your mind and reduce stress. The peacefulness of simply being in nature, away from the distractions of modern life, promotes a sense of grounding and balance. Over time, you may find that this connection with plants fosters a deeper sense of mindfulness, presence, and contentment in your life.


Additionally, regular engagement with plants can inspire creativity and provide insights into personal and ecological health. By observing the life cycles and resilience of plants, you can draw parallels to your own life challenges and growth, gaining lessons of perseverance and adaptability.


Embrace the rhythm of returning to the same plants and spots throughout the seasons. This continuity allows you to witness the lifecycle of plants—sprouting, flowering, fruiting, and dormancy—which can further connect you to the cyclical nature of life and the environment around you.


Yellow St. John's Wort flowers with bumble bee

 

This practice of sitting with plants can lead to a deeper appreciation and a more harmonious relationship with the environment. It’s a path to discovering the subtle and often overlooked rhythms of nature, opening up a world where every plant can teach you something about the ecosystem and about yourself.


If you try this practice out, please let me know how it goes! Please feel free to comment below, or in the comments section on social media.

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