If you are ever suffering from grief, the best way to pull yourself out of it is to care for something outside of yourself. Slowly, tenderly, consistently. This is not to say if you’re broken-hearted, you should go out and distract yourself from your pain by showering everyone besides yourself with love and affection. Quite the opposite. One should never underestimate the glory in starting small, coming back to the senses, observing. Plants help facilitate the process of healing, gentleness, and care that we ought to implement with ourselves.
One of my favourite things about using plants as a tool for healing is that it is inexpensive. You can find some for at Home Depot or re-purpose that head of romaine lettuce you bought. People are also known to give a lot of plants away on Craigslist for the free-ski (or low-ski). Case in point, you can start anywhere and plant medicine can be more accessible than many other hobbies or self-soothing techniques.
When you’re in the throws of sadness, it’s easy to focus on the details, the memories, the future fears, an impending sense of doom or emptiness. In short, sadness makes in dangerously easy for the present moment to evade us. This is where we experience double the suffering. In order to stay focused on the present moment, it is key to participate in activities that help ground you to the present moment. Here’s where plants come in. The act of nurturing something outside of yourself- picking up the soil, laying seeds gently, carefully plucking the dead leaves, quenching its thirst; all of these activities draw you closer to the present moment. Even if for just 5 minutes at a time, begin to see it as a mini version of a meditation practice that can be built up and sustained over time.
If you are in a season of grief, play with the idea of watering your plants with your tears. I’ve done it countless times as a means of demonstrating that nothing that comes from me is of complete waste. Consider the power in knowing that the immaculate salt-water combination in your tears can contribute to the growth and dynamism of the plant in your home, which you grew by hand, which gives you oxygen, which expands your capacity to nourish your mind, brain and body, all of which is necessary in the physical and psychic process of overcoming pain or suffering. The cycles of magic are never ending when it comes to plant medicine.
Envision the goodness in all of that life bursting around you. Once you’re comfortable, consider talking to your plants. Speak gently and promote their becoming with words of encouragement. Recognize that there is a sublime connection between you and all that you touch. So in essence, each time you speak life into the cells of those plants, you are in turn speaking abundance and healing over yourself. This is the beginning of alchemy— transforming your pain into something artful, lush, magical.
Through this process of exquisitely taking care of something small, living, vulnerable outside of yourself, you may begin to notice that you are more conscious of the way you breathe. When overcoming grief, anxiety or panic attacks, the life-altering sense of uncertainty and confusion can suffocate and harm a person. I’ve experienced it myself. It is critical that you engage in any loving activity that returns you back to the one thing that you truly have control over: breath. It is vital to ground your senses so that you can begin to trust and know them again. Rediscovering smell, touch, sight through plant medicine will also help you begin to reestablish your connection to your intuition. Therefore, strengthening your capacity to be present and experience bliss which is only ever accessible in the present moment.
What’s more, the ancestral healing properties of plants have long been understood and realized by indigenous cultures all over the world. Plants offer us an opportunity to connect and heal on a soulful level.
So consider investing in plants as a tool for healing, practicing gentleness, awareness and breath. The wonders and benefits of spending time in your personal garden are boundless. Allow it to be a testament to your capacity to hope again. If you can nurture a plant with your bare hands with nothing but dirt, sunlight, water, imagine what you could do when you draw those same loving hands toward yourself. Imagine what may bloom within you. Do the work, begin again, trust the earth.