Background: Thinkers such as Ken Wilber have observed that it is somewhat arbitrary, the ways that we put importance on a single individual. We are made of millions of cells. The cells are arranged in tissues, the tissues are are arranged in organs. The organs are arranged in organ systems. The organ systems are arranged in organisms. The organisms are arranged in communities. The communities are arranged in ecosystems. All the ecosystems, when taken together, form the biosphere.
We have consciousness of ourselves as individuals, of course. But this seems like a small reason to put so much of our attention to one middle-level of this arrangement. There is something to be said for the idea that the consciousness we think is running the show is in fact just giving us a report of the things that are already happening.
If you can do the following practice in the presence of a a plant, or better yet a tree, that is a definite plus.
1. Find a comfortable position. Release your worries and expectations. Place your phone on silent mode.
2. Breathe in, through the nose if you can.
3. Breathe out, through the mouth.
4. Try to breathe in more deeply. Place your hand on your abdomen and feel it move.
5. Exhale again.
6. Take one last inhale, before we move in to the next step. Can you make it your deepest?
7. Fully exhale.
8. Spend a moment considering a plant or tree. Behold and love it. Consider the individuality of this one specific plant. See it’s leaves and branches. Imagine the roots of the thing. Allow your thoughts or eyes to really linger on this friend.
9. With your next inhale, breathe in. Recognize that some of the very air you breathed might have been made from that plant.
10. With your next exhale, breathe the air out knowing this is what the plant will need. It will inhale the carbon dioxide of your breath.
11. Take two more deep breaths, connecting with the plant in this relationship of oxygen and carbon dioxide.
12. When you are ready, try to erase the boundaries between yourself and the plant. Can you imagine a level upon which you and the plant are not two seperate individuals but one common entity? Experience a sense of oneness with the tree or plant. It is giving you what you need. You are giving it what it needs.
13. Linger on this experience for as long as you need or want to.
14. Widen this circle in your mind. See yourself and this tree as a part of all plant-animals and animals within your area. (perhaps this area is about the size of a city block.) First, sit with the idea that they are in a perfect, reciprocal cycle of oxygen and carbon dioxide.
15. The gasses, in a way, are just a metaphor for so much more. Sit in your place in this system. Make it larger, in your mind, if you wish. First, broaden the meaning of relationship, knowing (but don’t bother listing) that we get more than just oxygen. Then, broaden the size of the network.
16. When you have made this network as broad, and deep as your mind will allow, sit with it. In some important sense, all the living creatures in your mind, all the plants and the animals, they are one.
16. If you would like, consider whether God is present within the animals or plants in this relationship. Is God above them? Or the movement of the matter and energy between them? Both? Neither?
17. Hold this web of connection: you, other animals, plants, trees, God in your mind. Take as long as you would like to sit as one part of this network of relationships.
18. When you are ready, return in your mind to just you and the plant you begin with. Consider the differences between yourself and the plant. Try and hold to the idea that you are still one. But the plant has specialties. So do you. The organism that is formed between the two of you is greater than the sum of your parts. Think about the ways that you and the plant are such a good pair.
19. When you are ready to dismiss this practice, thank the plant and move into your day, knowing that you can bring your mind back to your place in this tremendous network of beings.