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A Walk in the Woods

By Lauren Glaze, Phase I Fellow

In a conflict resolution workshop at AMI last week, the facilitator implored the Phase I Fellows to suspend disbelief for the duration of his talk so he could share his message freely- and for the duration of this blog post, I ask the same of you. I ask with the understanding that you may pick it right back up at the end, taking what resonates and leaving what does not.

When you take a solo walk in the forest, how alone are you really?

At risk of sounding “woo-woo,” throughout my time living among the lush forests here, I have been working on developing my relationship with various plants and fungi. This takes many forms, from learning their names, to observing their tendencies, to asking for permission when picking them for my own use, to walking with the consciousness of gratitude for the interdependence we share. Coming from a background rooted in scientific, linear modes of thinking, the integration of this new way of thinking - working with the invisibles - has helped me deepen my connection to life itself.

Rosemary Gladstar, a leader in the modern herbal medicine renaissance, put it best by saying, “The plants are calling you. They have a rich and diverse vocabulary and speak in many tongues. For the scientist the plant may speak in the minute language of chemicals and isolates; to the medicine person they speak in the multi-versed language of healing; to the poet, they speak in beauty. No matter what language you speak or comprehend the plants will converse in a manner in which you can understand, though it may take a listening ear and an open heart to hear them.”

Part of what drew me to AMI was the opportunity to approach the climate crisis from a more regenerative, holistic point of view. The process of sitting in a lab for hours, trying to deduce facts about nature without understanding more about the complex web of interactions from which a component of the system originated never made much sense to me. Stephen Buhner, a renowned herbalist and speaker warns against the dangers of reductionist thinking, saying “It was only when science convinced us that the world was dead that they could begin their autopsy in earnest.” The clinical nature of the scientific process, though beneficial in many ways, never taught me as much as a mindful walk in the woods did – especially one that serves as a reminder of the spirit inherent in all living things.

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