I have been doing and facilitating plant attunements for many years now, on my own, and with students from Clearpath School of Herbal Medicine and UMass-Five Colleges. Plant Attunement is a term used to describe sitting with a plant, and settling the chatting and skeptical mind in order to allow for direct communication/connection with the plant. I’m not trying to convince anyone of the validity of this process. The percentage of times that it has worked — 100% — has put to rest any doubts I may have had that this works. It has worked with 60 unprepared students in the winter in a classroom on the second floor of a school building, with fluorescent lights on vinyl floors while sitting around plants in pots that hardly anyone but me and my assistants had any clue about. The responses and information that come from people’s experiences over a 20-minute period while being led by someone on frame drum or gong is draw dropping … every time.
Here I want to speculate briefly on what I believe is going on when plant attunement is happening. Indigenous wisdom and many spirit traditions tells us that the Earth and indeed the entire Universe is conscious. Physics and spirit-based science tells us that all of creation is based and built on vibration. Every molecule of our bodies are simultaneously transmitters and receivers/antennae, especially so our six sense organs (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body/skin and discriminating mind) and chakras. This human technology is intrinsically part of us, and everyone uses it every moment we are aware, though rarely in our culture is it taught as a skill to be developed and honed. Plant attunement is a sublime way in which to practice it.
Practicing is mostly quieting down and diminishing the doubt voice; basically, getting our chatty, buzzy minds and confused egos out of the way so that we are open to perceive the vibrational information that is continuously coming in from the world around us. We can do this with plants. We can also do this with people, animals, environments, and crystals too. In fact, we are doing it all the time — the antennae are always on. What we are experiencing with our senses and awareness is direct perception of wordless vibrations. From that meaning comes. Just because people put the majority of their money on meaning that comes from words doesn’t mean that it is the only way, or the most reliable way. Plant Attunement is a profound way to develop these more direct communication and sensory skills.
How then and why do we often accompany plant attunements with sound — sometimes drums, sometimes gongs, sometimes didgeridoos, sometimes all three? Chinese Medicine tells us that qi/prana follows intentional awareness, blood follows qi, and physiology follows blood. The other day Chris Sturk said something profound that makes absolute sense. I never bothered to see what awareness follows. When awareness is at rest, it is still and ‘waiting.’ When something happens in this stillness, awareness shines on it. What stirs the stillness is vibration. And whereas I can close my eyes to the vibration of light, I cannot shut my ears to the vibration of sound. The sound that comes from the drum or gong is a vehicle for our awareness to ride on, and it is one of the best ways to free our awareness from the monopolizing nature of our talking self.
Furthermore, all things, being made of vibration, respond to vibration. We are tuning forks influencing and being influenced by all other vibrating bodies around us. We know from scientific studies that plants absolutely and instantly respond to sound. I believe that the sound of drum or gong helps to collectively gather and attune bodies of all kinds within its sphere of radiating influence. In doing so it helps us come into easier and quicker alignment with these other bodies around us, be they people or, in this case, plants. The plants do not need the help. We do.
I am not saying that plant attunement cannot happen without musical accompaniment. In fact, it would be difficult for someone on their own to simultaneously drum and calm their minds and open their awareness to making a connection with a plant. And it is good to practice things with no accoutrements. All we really need is our awareness. The presence of meditative sound, however, is truly a boon and bonus, making plant attunement sessions that much more enjoyable and inspiring.