The ability to commune with nature is in our bones. It has been passed down to us from our ancestors who lived in direct relationship with the land. At present, Westerners are using scientific methodologies to 'discover' the medicinal properties of plants from all over the world. Most of these plants and their medicinal uses are pointed out to them by the local indigenous cultures. How did they know how to use these plants without conducting double-blind studies in laboratories? Many of these people answer with some version of "the plants told us". For many years this idea was dismissed as superstitious folklore, but as the complexity and sophistication of the medical knowledge of many so-called under-developed cultures becomes scientifically validated we are finally left with no other choice than to accept this idea that is so foreign to our culture.
Everyone has the ability to interpret the language of plants if they want to. Stephen Harrod Buhner very eloquently chronicles the demise of the belief and ability to commune with plants in our culture in his book "The Lost Language of Plants". But the good news is that since the language of plants comes from plants (it is not a written or spoken language), it is not dead, and it is available to any who seek it. To learn to communicate with plants only requires that we broaden our beliefs about what language is. We accept our ability to communicate with animals in non-verbal ways, but plants are not seen as sentient beings, probably because they don't have an (easily recognized) immediate and animate response. And although it's still depicted in the movies as a sign of lunacy to communicate with plants, many in our culture accept the idea that if we talk to and love plants, they respond to our attention by flourishing. However, we are far from accepting the other side of this coin - what most indigenous cultures all over the world have always embraced: plants also talk to us, and if we learn how to listen to them, we will flourish. Until we open our belief systems up to this idea, we're not really living with plants, they are living among us and we are using them for whatever our needs are. There is nothing wrong with using plants for our needs (we'd be dead if we didn't!), but if we really want a deep spiritual closeness with our natural world we need to start with this idea: all living beings have something to tell us. If we can learn to listen to the language of plants again and accept their help, we can expand our ideas of what communication really is and begin to reclaim a culture of balance and harmony.
WHERE DO YOU START?
Like any foreign language, you can learn to become fluent in the language of plants by immersing yourself in the culture. Meditating with plants is the simplest way to learn the language. You don't have to be in the depths of the wilderness to do this, even a houseplant in a pot or a tree in a city park will do. When you find a plant that you are intuitively drawn to, let yourself go to it. This is the first step in listening to the plant, for it may be calling you. Approach the plant you would like to meet with consciousness. Introduce yourself and state your intention. You don't have to speak this out loud unless you want to. A simple desire to learn is a good starting intention.
Offer thanks in whatever way you can, just like you would with any teacher. Once you've made this commitment and given a plant your respect and attention, you will be able to have a very personal dialogue with the plant's spirit. Sit before it and admire its beauty until you feel ready to close your eyes. Once your eyes are closed sit quietly for a few moments and settle into your body. Notice the feel of the earth, get comfortable, watch your breath for a few more moments. Begin to notice everything that is happening and continue to consciously direct your mind to listen. Plants usually communicate telepathically and can speak to us through feelings, tastes, visual imagery, songs and even smells. They speak to us as individuals in ways we can readily understand. If we are visually oriented then we are more likely to receive visuals, if we learn more through sound or words then that is what will most likely come in. As we practice this kind of communication, we will have a greater understanding of the information that we are receiving from the plants and will be able to receive the information in more varied forms. It needs to be understood that what we are dealing with here is another realm of reality, so understanding the information is very much like dream interpretation.
We can continue sharpening our communication skills by spending more time in meditation with plants. This will aid us in staying open to instructions from the plant about what the next step might be in our lives or what assistance the plant has to offer us. In turn, the plant might need something from us. Maybe we can offer our services to the plant community, or the world at large, and our conversation with this particular plant could tell us what the earth might need from us at this time.