During these uncertain and difficult times with video calls replacing actual human contact, many people have turned to meditation to cope with loneliness, anxiety, and depression. Meditation and spirituality give us a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves, typically involving a search for the meaning of life. But what if it could help create a communication pathway with something else living and more tangible like your little green friend?
Lockdown and quarantine that was set in place in a lot of countries around the globe has caused emotional distress on various levels: Grief and sorrow for those who have lost a loved one, either to the novel coronavirus or to any other illness and could not say goodbye to them in person; anxiety and stress for those in quarantine with people they do not have a healthy or balanced relationship with; loneliness and depression from months in isolation with video calls or instant messaging replacing much of human contact. As a human race, we thrive in social environments and when starved from it it can cause major distress. During this period, even those who are not alone nor suffering from any major emotional disturbances have tried to learn a new skill. One of these skills has been meditation.
Spirituality can be found both within and outside of religion. You do not have to belong to any group nor subscribe to any dogma to engage with a sense of spirituality. Sometimes, those who feel disconnected to everything around them turn inwards to within themselves to at least feel aligned internally. Once aligned internally, many have found to be spiritually connected to their inner child. Once connected to that inner child with the view of anything being possible, a spiritual conversation may be made with someone other than yourself--someone or something we may consider as impossible to connect to. An interconnectedness with oneself and another energy that may have always been in your life but has been disregarded or taken for granted (Service n.d.). Spirituality is based on the belief that there is more to life than what meets the senses, more to the universe than just purposeless mechanics, more to consciousness than electrical impulses in the brain, and more to our existence than the body and its needs. Own your spiritual journey, explore it and experiment in it because it’s yours for the taking! Meditation is a very old and well renowned way to allow oneself to become interconnected with oneself and those around you. Spiritual meditation makes a point to never limit a communication to a being but beyond something which may not be tangible. But sometimes it can be hard to reach this level with an intangible (Giovanni 2015).
What if I told you that you can feel a connection with something in your very room while you are in isolation? Something that you may already have in your room all along. It is common to acknowledge humans and animals as spiritual beings, but so are plants. Plants are living, breathing creatures. Plants are not solely for your aesthetic pleasure (GurujiMa 2020). There is a reason why many offices have them in their office areas. Have you ever noticed the elevated calmness that resonates from these beautiful creatures? Plants are healers in their own right. Plants have a rich history in their healing powers. Many traditional healers believe that the beginnings of disease originate from an imbalance or disharmony in our emotional and spiritual bodies and that plants are effective in healing these bodies (Daley 2017).
When many people, including myself, hear of healing plants, there is a misguided tendency to think that spiritual plants must be the most exotic plants of the Far East, South America, Africa, or the Middle East. All plants have their own healing properties and characteristics. You can even find them at your local supermarket here in the Netherlands. The Netherlands, and particularly Amsterdam, has dabbled in the area of the medicinal value of plants in their botanical garden named Hortus Botanicus since 1638. This botanical garden focuses on medical plants for Amsterdam’s doctors and pharmacists. The reason this occurred during this specific period was due to exposure to the plague epidemic in both Leiden and Utrecht that occurred from 1634 till 1637. By 1682 the Amsterdam Hortus Botanicus established a rich collection of plants that used to be unknown in Europe while today the garden holds over six thousand different plant species that were brought by traders like the Dutch East India Company with some already existing in most of Europe including the following; (info 2003).
Rosemary uplifts the energy and keeps one ‘light and happy’, lavender is known for its calming properties, and sage has the characteristics of a protector. It represents immortality and wisdom (Soul 2018). Some people bundle sage plants together and burn it as a smudging stick (Petersen 2017). Basil is said to bring fortune and beauty to one's home. It smells good and almost serves as an antidepressant. If the basil plant doesn’t flourish in your house after repeated efforts and care, it is an indication of lots of negative energies present there from a very long time due to some misfortune or a curse (Fengshuied 2019). Knowing that a plant can actually communicate something like this to you without you needing to even meditate may allow for the boundary between you and the plant to ease.
Thyme fights with the negative energy around you. It helps with nightmares and to grow your money. Most importantly, it is a good plant for bees as it gives them nourishing pollen. Burning thyme cleanses the room, brings health and vigor to the house. It repels insects too. You can keep it inside the pillow for countering nightmares (Singh 2016). Dandelions exhibit the characteristics of self protection after being attacked which you can see through it’s released liquid that contains a metabolic-rich latex to protect itself from further damage. Finally, mint, which is believed to resist bad vibes from other people and helps if you are suffering with insomnia. Simply smelling the fresh aroma of mint calms your nerves, rubbing the leaves on the forehead can relieve headaches, drinking mint tea can aid for digestion, cold ailments and spiritual benefit too. It is said to revive our hopes. It is very beneficial if you are going through a grieving process of loss of a loved one (Singh 2016).
This condensed list of plants that show physical evidence of their spirituality may help you to dissolve the barrier between human and non-human species and allow a flow of communication to emerge. All plants are spiritual, however these might just assist you along the process of spirituality thanks to their physical and sensual presence (GurujiMa 2020). Basically visualising their spirituality to the human eye through smell and physical alterations like the basil plant. Meditating with plants might just help you understand that you are never alone even when there are not any humans around. When you start feeling alone, your plant friend might be able to help you out with that one. That is not to say that being alone is something bad. It is a great achievement to feel comfortable alone with oneself and one’s thoughts. Nevertheless, it might have been extremely overwhelming to be faced with your own thoughts over an extended period of time, and amidst a collective mourning of the loss of lives and a sense of normalcy.
This process may also allow us to understand that plants are not solely there for our own leisure but for themselves as living creatures. We can learn to understand plants as more than just passive creatures that satisfy our hunger and aesthetic thirst-- subverting the idea that plants are here to serve us to the idea of mutually serving and supporting each other. We may also learn the roots from where they come from and their historical richness as to why they are here in the first place, as can be seen from the history of Hortus Botanicus here in Amsterdam. To feel a level of interconnectedness with your living energy when feeling most isolated may be able to help you guide you through your difficult period.