By Amy Terepka
Over many years practicing the healing arts and plant medicine, I’ve become very passionate about the importance and power of CONNECTION. I’ve found that the root of almost all of our stress, anxiety, fear, and pain can be traced back to lack of connection: to ourselves, our bodies,our feelings, purpose, sense of belonging, and to the Earth.
I believe a large reason for our collective fear around this current pandemic is because it’s highlighting how disconnected we’ve become from our true sense of safety and trust: our bodies and the Earth. We have been moving so quickly that we’ve forgotten how to be with ourselves and the living landscape that we’re woven into.
Life is much richer when we live in deep connection with ourselves, the earth, and the cycles around us. This is the primary umbilical cord for our sense of safety here. It provides a sense of belonging.
One of the most profound yet simple ways to begin a journey of connection is to grow a relationship with plants and stones. Connecting with plants and stones help us heal and reprogram our way of relating to the world. They are healing on all levels: physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
These ancient beings help us to see ourselves more clearly, and help us heal the root of imbalance and dis-ease in our holistic selves. They are blueprints of pure archetypal energy that can show our bodies, minds, and spirits how to reorganize themselves in an optimally healthy way.
Plants and stones are intimately connected with the landscape and the Earth. They ARE the landscape and the Earth. And they help us remember a way of being that we trust in our bones; a way of being interrelated and interconnected. A way of belonging.
CONNECTING WITH PLANTS & STONES
An easy way to enter into connection with a plant is by burning it, and creating a medicinal smoke. This is been done cross-culturally for thousands of years to purify spaces, cleanse our bodies, minds, and energies, to enter into ritual space, and to simply delight in the scents of the plants. Our sense of smell has a closer and more direct relationship to our memory and psycho-emotional circuitry than any other sense. In this way, burning plants can, over time, elicit other memories of connection, and help recall this connected state of being more profoundly.
Some some my favorite local plants to burn are Red Cedar, Juniper, Yerba Santa, and Mugwort. You can buy bundles already wrapped at a local store. Purchase from indigenous folks when available. You can also harvest respectfully and dry your own. When harvesting, honor the plants and the land by asking for permission from them before you harvest, and by giving an offering in return (a small stone, a song, a prayer, dried herbs, etc). You will hear or feel a “yes” or a “no.” Trust it. Only harvest from plants and places that are abundant, and gather only a small percentage of the total amount available. Avoid plants that are over-harvested and sacred to indigenous populations, like white sage or palo santo. There are plenty of abundant local plants that can be used in their place.
Once you have dried the plant, light the plant, blow out the flame, and let the smoke surround your body and your space. It is best to hold the plant over a small dish to catch any errant coals.
Drinking Daily Infusions
Steep the plant material in hot water anywhere from 20 minutes to overnight. Tea is a wonderful way to heal chronic imbalances in the body and encourage reconnection. Some of my favorite daily nourishing plants include milky oat tops, red clover, lemon balm, nettles, calendula, and red raspberry leaf.
For stone medicine, place (safe to ingest) crystals into your water jar overnight and drink the charged water the next day. Make sure to research the toxicity of the stone before you do this. As a starting point, any stone in the quartz family is considered safe (clear quartz, rose quartz, etc.)
Another way to connect with the medicine of plants and stones is to bathe with them. You can place herbs or gemstones directly into your bath, or make an infusion (see above), and then strain this water to add to your bath. You can also pour this infused water over you in the shower, or to put in a spray bottle to spritz yourself with throughout the day.
Meditating with plants and stones is by far my favorite way to work with them. This practice develops your own intuition and trust in yourself, while at the same time creating a direct relationship and connection with the plant or stone. This is my primary way of learning about a medicine. When you directly learn and receive wisdom from a plant or stone, the wisdom resides in your body. It is not knowledge from outside yourself. This imprints a lasting relationship and knowing into your being.
EARTH ALLY MEDITATION PRACTICE
1. Sit with a stone or a plant with the intention of opening to it and learning from it.
2. Center yourself in your body, and take note of how you feel, physically, mentally, emotionally, etc.
3. Sink your awareness down slowly, out of your head and into your heart. Imagine that your seat of consciousness is moving into your heart-space. Feel your heart open and expand.
4. If safe, ingest a small amount of the plant. Or, hold the plant or stone in your hands. Ask a specific question, or simply introduce yourself and be open to receiving the energetic imprints of the plant or stone.
5. Be open to whatever you receive. Pay attention to any sensations happening in your body. Pay attention to where your awareness is drawn. Pay attention to any words, phrases, or songs that come into your head. Pay attention to any visualizations you receive. This is all part of the medicine.
6. Sit for as long as feels right. When finished, offer heartfelt gratitude to the plant or stone for being with you.
7. Take notes in your journal.
The more we devote ourselves to connection, the more meaningful our connections become. Each day, make a point to connect in some way with the plants or stones around you, even a simple smile as you enter or exit your home. And watch as these relationships grow and begin to feed you on all levels.
Amy Terepka is passionate about helping people live a life that's meaningful and connected to their place on the Earth, and among the plants and Earth beings. She practices bodywork and energy work, plant spirit and herbal medicine, seasonal medicine, and Reconnection coaching sessions.
If you enjoyed this article, you might like her upcoming community class series, Gateways to Connection, offered by sliding scale donation. More info at: https://www.groundwaterhealing.com/gateways-to-connection-live
Find more of Amy's work at: www.groundwaterhealing.com