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You Breathe Out, She Breathes In: A Plant Meditation

Learning to communicate and make magic with plants doesn't have to be a difficult or complicated process. Many plants are eager to form relationships with us, and just being near them can profoundly affect our mood and mental state. This simple meditation will help you begin to make a connection with living plants, and if practiced regularly could help you understand their energy and personality.

To perform this meditation, you will need to work with a living plant. I feel it is most effective when done outdoors, but you could also do it indoors with a potted plant.

Find a place where you can sit quietly for some time, possibly with your eyes closed. It's up to you to decide if you feel safe and able to focus in a noisy or crowded environment, and to choose your location accordingly.

If you will be meditating outside, you might want to bring a blanket or tarp to sit on. While there's definitely an energetic benefit to sitting right on the earth, there's no sense making yourself sick sitting on cold, wet ground, or being so uncomfortable from the cold or damp you can't pay attention or have to cut your visit short.

Once seated near the plant you want to meditate with, check in with yourself. How are you feeling? Do you feel tight or sore anywhere? Is your mind calm and relaxed, or are your thoughts running wild? Is your breath coming easily? Are you warm, cold, or just right? Write it down now if you wish, or simply observe and remember it for later. Take three or four natural, comfortable breaths and focus on really feeling the air move in and out of your body. No judgment. Just observe. Then sit quietly for a few minutes, breathing normally, and see if this changes the way you feel. Either write it down, or remember it for later. This moment of breathing is like a control group in a scientific experiment: you will see what quietly breathing does for you by itself, and then you will compare the results to those of breathing with a plant.

Once you've observed the effects of focused breathing, begin to breathe with your plant friend. Sit as close to the plant as you can. If you're working with a tree, you might lean against its trunk. Close your eyes if you feel comfortable doing so, or if you don't, try softening your vision. Don't try to focus on anything in particular, just let the light and motion around you wash over you.

As you exhale, think of your breath as an offering to the plant: what you breathe out, the plant breathes in, soaking up the carbon dioxide you release. Then, as you inhale, take in the oxygen and the fragrance of the plant (if it has one) and think about how you are receiving a gift from your friend: what the plant breathes out, you breathe in. This is the simplest form of exchange between plants and humans, one we usually take for granted, but which feels sacred when we really pay attention. Continue breathing this way with the plant until you can really feel the connection between you, OR set a timer for five minutes, and keep focusing on this exercise until the timer goes off. As with any meditative exercise, if your mind wanders away, don't judge yourself or get frustrated. Simply return your attention to breathing with the plant, gently and easily.

After your timer goes off, check in with yourself again. How do you feel now? How does your body feel? Are your thoughts more or less focused than they were before? Do you feel more relaxed, or more energized, or perhaps you feel sleepy? Once again, there are no wrong answers here: instead, you are observing your response to the action of breathing with a plant.

Compare how you feel now with how you felt after doing the breathing exercise at the beginning. If you feel different now from how you felt before you began, you now have an idea of how the plant affects you. If you don't feel different, that's okay too. It can take time for our senses to awaken to the subtle energies of plants. Perhaps try repeating the exercise on a different day, always remembering to record how you feel before and after the exercise in your journal.

Remember not to judge yourself if it didn't go the way you hoped it would: it can take time for our awareness to expand and our subtle senses to awaken. Just allow the experience to be what it is, and write it down. Later you can return to the entry to see how you are progressing in your studies.

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Image by Annie Spratt

Michelle Simkins

polytheist . writer . maker . witch

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