THE HEALING POWER OF PLANTS OUTSIDE YOUR DOOR
We think we know them. We’ve seen them in the woods, in gardens and along city streets and country roads our entire lives. We assume that they’re just plants, passive objects, with no intelligence or sentience. But scientists are finding just the opposite. Studies show that plants have the ability to communicate with each other through light, sound and vibration. And maybe even with us.
Three years ago, I began capturing images of flowers and trees with my iPhone as I walked down Shotwell Street in San Francisco to my dance class. I had been walking the same route for five years, but I’d paid little attention to the plants. With fresh eyes, I was amazed to see golden poppies nodding in the breeze, jasmine spilling over fences, freesias, tulips and irises crowding front gardens, magnolia trees covered with blossoms, and exotic succulents in planter boxes. How could I have missed these marvels of nature?
Today we’re becoming more disconnected from the natural world than ever before in the course of human history. Immersed in technology, our brains are changing, and our addiction to our devices is crowding out our interaction with nature and other people, even our own children.
Recent studies reveal that the energetic, vibrational properties of plants can improve health issues such as ADHD, depression and other mental illnesses. Research conducted at the HeartMath Institute in California shows that the electromagnetic field emitted by our bodies, which can be measured up to several feet away, connects us with all life on the planet. Considering that every plant has its own electromagnetic signature that describes every chemical it makes, it’s understandable that plants affect us physiologically with their subtle vibrations.
As I spent more time with my subjects, I began to tune into their energy. I developed a special relationship with a rosebush on Shotwell that was buried in a tangle of weeds and vines in a tree basin. She was horribly misshapen and appeared to be struggling to survive, but her flowers were beautiful and I often stopped to admire them and even picked one occasionally. One morning as I approached her, I asked if she had a lesson for me. I heard clearly, “Beauty is inherent in every living thing.” Startled, I wondered if I had answered my own question, but I knew that I had never used the word ‘inherent’.
All around us trees and flowers are beckoning us to see them and to accept their help. Connecting with a plant and honoring its beauty with our attention, lights up pleasure pathways in our brains and helps us regain our equilibrium. By opening our eyes and our hearts to the plants in our immediate surroundings, we open ourselves to receive their energy and their wisdom. If we are to survive our current ecological crises, it’s imperative that we shift our thinking and come to value the plant kingdom, for we only save what we love.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
Buhner, Stephen Harrod. The Secret Teachings of Plants: The Intelligence of the Heart in the Direct Perception of Nature (Rochester, Vermont: Bear & Company, 2004).
Chevallier, Andrew. Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine: 550 Herbs and Remedies for Common Ailments (DK – Penguin Random House, 2016).
Gerber, M. D., Richard. Vibrational Medicine: The #1 Handbook of Subtle-Energy Therapies (Rochester, Vermont: Bear & Company, 2001).
Louv, Richard. Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder (Algonquin Books, 2008).
Mancuso, Stefano and Viola, Allessandra. Brilliant Green: The Surprising History and Science of Plant Intelligence (Island Press, 2015).
Montgomery, Pam. Plant Spirit Healing: A Guide to Working with Plant Consciousness (Rochester, Vermont: Bear & Company, 2008).
Turner, R. G. Jr. and Wasson, Ernie. Botanica: The Illustrated A-Z of Over 10,000 Garden Plants and How to Cultivate Them (Mynah, Random House Austalia, 1999).
Wood, Matthew. The Book of Herbal Wisdom: Using Plants as Medicine (Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 1997).
Descended from a long line of farmers in Norway and Minnesota, Charlene Nevill nurtured vegetables and herbs in Nova Scotia and Maine before moving to New York where she attempted growing vegetables on her tar paper rooftop while working as a publicist for Tiffany & Co. and as a contributing editor for a national trade magazine. After moving to San Francisco, she represented commercial photographers for 15 years before she began capturing images of her own. She’s currently studying herbal medicine. Author photo by Dawn Rivers.