Grow a Plant

Written by Karen Verna Carlson, N.D., Ph.D.. Posted in Holistic Living.

“We urgently need to find practical ways of reestablishing our conscious sense of connection with living nature.”  RUPERT SHELDRAKE, one of the world’s foremost biologists

Tending a simple little plant can be a doorway to enchantment in your everyday life.  Nature’s rhythmical entrance into the season of rebirth is a perfect time to align with the physical and mystical energies of rejuvenation.  Whatever state you may perceive your life to be in right now, you can experience the thrill of a new beginning just by tending a new, simple little plant.  Synchronize with natural forces and proceed without doing any research.  Just follow your intuition.

If you already have plants, you might choose to use them to root one just for this purpose of creating a special rapport with your earthly source.  However, I recommend adopting a brand new plant to emphasize this theme of a new beginning.  Ask a friend or relative for some seeds or a sprout from one of their plants that appeals to you.  We’re not talking horticulture, here.  Keep it simple.  Indoor plants that are really easy are spider plants, jades, aloe vera, ferns.  Nothing fussy.
                                          ~ Life Begets Life ~
Here’s a story of one really delightful plant experience.  That last potato from the ten pounds I bought on sale looked pretty sad.  Its gnarly partially rotting body gave off that distinctive smell reminiscent of the dirtiest damp socks.  It was dotted by clumpy eyes and covered with skin that could have been grafted from an elephant centenarian.  I began dissecting what I could salvage for my neighbor’s chickens.  The rot would be well received by the compost pile.  
As I wielded my paring knife, I recognized that this dying potato was a source of nourishment for its next budding generation.  I’ve seen that before in my groceries.  Grapefruits secretly sprouting inches-long seeds in their womb.   Carrots sending forth green shoots from their shaved heads, or threadlike roots from their skin.  The idea dawned to dig a little space in the earth that grounds my potted five-foot rubber plant, and nestle those potato chunks bearing eye-roots into the soil.  No extra work for me, they shared water meant for “Centurion” (such a stately, proud rubber plant deserves a strong, noble name).
                                         ~ Insightful Potato Eyes ~
One day, I saw sprouts had emerged aboveground.  My potato plants!  The sprouts became tendrils, and the tendrils unfurled with leaves.  After a couple months I saw a shiny little marble-sized orb swelling from the dirt.  Wow!  With a little more time, I sensed these spuds ready for harvest.  Ten, maybe a dozen perfect potato miniatures.  Rinsing off soil, I just

had to bite into one.  Wowie, zowie!  Flavor that blended the best of nature’s spring freshness exploded in my mouth.  My taste buds danced with delight.  I halved the rest and sprinkled them to crown a simple salad.  Those morsels were the highlight of my meal.  Ambrosia.  Heavenly.  Such inadequate vocabulary for this experience of the most tender, succulent baby potatoes imaginable.  Can’t say as I’d ever tasted a raw potato before.  
I hadn’t grown them; they grew themselves.  Hmmmmm.  No gardener grows anything!  Nature grows everything.  The gardener places a plant in enough dirt to anchor it, in a spot that gets pretty good sun, provides a little water, grooms it by removing dead leaves or an encroaching weed, beetle or caterpillar, and from time to time, just visits it.  
So, maybe, in my life, tending businesses of teaching students and facilitating healing with clients, tending relationships, domicile, Bronco and Harley represents a gardener’s stewardship, with the results ~ the achievements ~ coming from a larger force field (a.k.a. Nature) engaged by intention and attention.
                                              ~ Release Expectations ~
Long before this potato miracle, I tried growing an avocado plant from the seed, and lost interest in the spindly stalk that only produced a few lame leaves at its top.  You see, I thought “I” was doing the actual growing of it.  I had expectations of a verdant bush.  “I” was a failure.  Wrong, wrong, wrong line of thinking.  My present assessment of that debacle is that we were not friends, that plant and I.  It was my trophy plant.  A testimonial of my skills effectively applied.  And I felt embarrassed that anyone should see it.  So, I let it languish, “forgot” to water it and stealthily relegated it to the compost pile.
Now, planting pieces of a knobbled old rotting potato was just experimental whimsy.  A curiosity indulged.  I didn’t have any expectations.  I didn’t worry over it or feed it special nutrients.  I just welcomed it, and regarded it as one of the motley gang of greenery that hangs out in my sunroom.  So, I encourage you to cultivate a playful attitude.  Just see what happens with it and with you.  It’s the second part ~ what happens with you ~ that is most interesting.
                                     ~ Some Needs Are Universal ~  
Watch your simple little plant communicate its needs to you.  When a spider plant needs water, it begins to turn a shade of green that carries a slight grayish hue.    Within hours after watering, its leaves brighten to their characteristic healthy emerald tones.  They spring from limp to crisp.  It’s saying, “Thank you!”  Timely watering, reminds us about our own hydration.  What do you look like or feel like when you are dehydrated?  Most people are suffering from marginal dehydration without feeling thirsty.  Drink a quart of pure water daily, and your natural thirst mechanisms are reinstated to remind you when you need to drink water.
Watching your simple little plant lean towards sunlight, reminds us that we are all solar dependent.  Sunshine influences plant production of nutrients, and has widely ranging effects on your body besides assimilating vitamin D, and upon your psyche (as everyone knows).  Do you give yourself enough time outdoors?  And what about exercise?  Turn that plant and it will

stretch sunward ~ yoga.  Open the window and let it get stronger dancing with breezes ~ aerobics!
You will see the amount of soil in the pot diminish over months and years as it is transfigured with carbon dioxide, water and sun into plant cells.  Dirt becomes roots, stems, leaves, blossoms.  Parts fall off, then decompose back to dirt.  Nature cycles through death, decay, nutrients, new life ~ alchemy.  Reminded of this reality, I am able to appreciate my life on wondrous levels other than the typical success/failure continuum.
                                        ~ Foster Communication ~  
Given the ways your simple little plant communicates its needs to you, why not let it become your confidante?  Inventor of the polygraph, Clive Baxter, scientifically proved that plants have the ability to respond to emotional situations.  You’ve heard of his experiments connecting his invention to plants that reacted measurable alarm to shrimp torture (dropping shrimp one at a time into a boiling cauldron in a different room).  Also, alarm notations on the polygraph printout identified convicted felons from regular folks during another experiment.   Baxter also documented the pleasing effects of classical music.
Talking to a plant is one thing, but talking with a plant may just be a little too far out for you to consider.  “Imagination is more important than knowledge,” declared Albert Einstein.   Treat this as an exercise to develop your imagination “muscles.”  Like any skill, the more you practice the better you get.  Have a tête à tête with the plant, sharing your most intimate thoughts ~ those fearful projections, fanciful aspirations, deep disappointments, vengeful plots you privately harbor, unaware of their universality among humankind because so few folks mention them.
                                                 ~ Nature Spirits ~
Still can’t get into the game?  Okay, maybe you can imagine that you’re confiding with the nature spirit that dwells with that plant.  “…you might hear the voices of those spirits, nymphs, little people, and ghosts that were heard generations ago, that fed the quotidian imagination and excited a spirituality not yet divorced from good creation,” writes Thomas Moore in The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life following his first two bestsellers, Care of the Soul and Soul Mates.  This guy has heavy-duty degrees in theology, musicology and philosophy.
Dan Millman, former world champion athlete, coach, and college professor whose journeys around the world ~ and into the depths of his mind and heart ~ have generated an approach to life he calls the way of the peaceful warrior, writes, “Getting in touch with the earth and growing things can help you reconnect with your own nature…. Reconnecting with the body of the earth and with the natural world around us provides a good way to tune into our body.” (No Ordinary Moments)
The opening Sheldrake quote comes from The Rebirth of Nature, praised by Deepak Chopra for “showing our intimate relationship with the universe ~ that we are a part of a breathing, living, thinking cosmos and that intelligence is a pervasive reality inseparably one with nature.”  I wonder what might grow from your relationship tending a simple little plant?      

Writer's Bio: Karen is a naturopathic physician who has taken holistic healing and education into the realm of quantum physics. She is credited with “the first major breakthrough in Swedish Massage ~ research demonstrating energetic interconnections ~ since Peter Ling systemized it in the early 19th century.” International recognition for her healing and educational work includes an honorary degree, a silver medal, listing in Who’s Who of Professional and Business Women, appearances on TV and radio, lecturing in Europe and in the U.S. for professional symposia, colleges, corporations, community groups, and being featured in professional journals, magazines and newspapers. She has published more than 200 articles on holistic health and education. She has facilitated joyful well-being and health for hundreds of students she has personally certified in holistic healing and holistic massage and for hundreds more clients she has personally touched including luminaries in science, medicine and religion.
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