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Plant Attunements

An Introduction to the healing wisdom of plant medicine.

What is it about traditional healing practices that are becoming more alluring today? People are suffering from a vast array of physical, emotional and mental illnesses and many seem to be running up against dead ends when it comes to conventional medical treatment. Exhausting their options, people are turning to alternative healing practices and traditions to restore their health and harmony of being and these methods are gaining popularity.

Traditional indigenous cultures from around the globe recognize that the body, mind and spirit are deeply interwoven; an imbalance in one aspect of self ultimately leads to an imbalance in another. Therefore, effective treatment of any illness, whether it be depression and anxiety or angina and atherosclerosis, cannot simply be healed by the superficial means of isolating the problem out of the whole. Traditional medical practices view the person as a whole being, whereas western medical frameworks separate body systems into respective categories.

Yet, western medicine does possess strengths of its own and certainly has its place. Lab analysis and tests are becoming more and more refined and allow practitioners to access specific reference points of data to assess a person’s current health status according to clinical standards. Like a road map, western medical diagnostics offer a snap shot of one’s internal landscape. This approach of using sophisticated technology to peer into the cellular and molecular level of the body can be very effective at identifying physical malfunctions of organ systems. What is fascinating, however, is when these points of reference are viewed through a holistic lens and within a range that is considered optimal, rather than normal, including an assessment of the emotional, mental and spiritual bodies, patterns begin to emerge.

An integrative approach to diagnosis and assessment is the viewing of an individual as far more than a body made up of parts. Rather, it is a way of holding true that each person is a unique expression of subtle energies, experiences and memories, ancestry and genetics, and this complex interplay of patterns makes up who they are at any given moment. If there are disharmonies manifesting as disease or illness, then one can assume that the imbalance itself can be traced back to a much subtler level.

True healing is an ever-changing process of learning and growth and is possible beyond the superficial layers of symptom-and-medication-management only when the root cause of illness can be identified. It is then through the ancient and intelligent lifeforce that plants embody, can we address the multifaceted manifestations of illness and disease through the plant’s ability to restore harmony on all levels. Why is this? Ancient healing traditions have known that plants possess an intelligent consciousness that when invoked during the process of harvesting, preparation and administration, invite the spirit-being of the plant along and this is woven into the medicine itself, as well as the treatment, which allows the medicine to bring healing to the physical body via numerous mechanisms of action while also supporting the healing of trauma and restoring mental and emotional health.

Recently, I began working with a client who had been dealing with anxiety, ADHD, irregular sleep, and strong mental-emotional patterning around low self-confidence and self-worth. I created a botanical protocol for her that addressed her concerns clinically. On an energetic level, I attuned her to the spirit of two plants; one of them was Hawthorn. Crataegus monogyna, also known as Hawthorn, supports the functioning of the heart and the cardiovascular system. Hawthorn has also been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), for disturbed shen. Shen is translated to spirit and when shen is disturbed, some of the clinical phenomena include insomnia, nightmares, emotional imbalances such as anxiety, irritability and emotional lability. The Plant Attunement is an invocation and energetic attuning of a plant spirit to support the spiritual healing of an individual. This is possible through the spiritual relationship that I have cultivated with the plant healer. The invitation is for the person to cultivate their own relationship with the plant, thereby deepening in connection to the healing plant and with themselves. It is this spiritual connection that orchestrates emotional and spiritual healing. Over the course of a couple months, I watched as my client transformed out of rhetorically negative self-talk into a self-knowingness that is rooted in her heart’s wisdom.

The core of my practice as a Clinical Herbalist is the intersection of where traditional and conventional medical practices meet. It is at this juncture that a third framework of healing emerges. I have found through my practice, that as individuals are empowered to explore themselves and become aware of how the energetic disharmonies weave within the physical illness, then one can authentically begin to heal. Otherwise, the process of restoring health is an ever-recurring cycle of chasing symptoms.

This blog is the first of several explorations into the nature of healing with plant medicine in combination with western diagnostics.

You can find out more about plant attunements and my work as a clinical herbalist here.

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