Meditative Foraging Offers So Much More Than a Basket of Food

When we take a wander through the wild world, few of us seem to realize the treasure trove we are stumbling through. 

Almost as if in a sleepwalk, our conditioning has blinded us so thoroughly that we can barely make out the gleaming jewels of the plant world that lie before us.

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Even the trained botanist who knows too much about the plants they behold may completely fail to know them directly, because of the highly developed filter that they look through when making that encounter.

Meditative Foraging – Open Your Senses to Nature

meditative-foraging-Bilberry-gathering
Mindful foraging can be fun to do with friends – and it comes very naturally to infants too!

Meditative foraging is all about reversing that conditioning, and opening not only our eyes but all of our senses back up to the paradise of nature that we had thought we had lost.

Some imagine paradise being a place we might go to when we die, or a transcendent space occasionally met through “spiritual practices.” 

But for one who knows nature, paradise is a place we can step out into every time we leave our busy minds behind and simply behold the world as it really is.

So don’t think – but sense, feel…

The secret of meditative foraging is all to do with getting out of your mind and back to your senses.

wood-sage-tasting-meditative-foraging
Tasting a plant can be much more than merely tickling the taste buds, but a unique encounter with its essence.

Though the core of our intellectual understanding is paramount – knowing which plants are safe to touch, smell, and taste, and what we might be able to use them for – yet we shed the rest of our cerebral activity to make way for direct connection.

Laying aside our mind, we encounter each plant as if it were the first time. Only then, in the freshness of the present moment can we fully appreciate the gifts that it would love to bestow.

Become Mindful of What You Are About to Engage In

cuckoo-flower-beacon-meditative-foraging
Some wild plants will jump out in your sensory field like beacons, begging for your attention. Here, the nourishing flowers of the Cuckoo Flower stand out starkly against dark foliage.

So, before you walk out into the wild, stop for a moment and become mindful of what you are about to engage in.

Bring your focus to your intention – why are you doing this, and which of your needs you’d like to see fulfilled in this encounter.

Don’t be afraid to dream! 

You might be amazed by the power of this connection and the impact it could have on your life… the more you dare to put into this, the greater the response will be returned by nature.

Open.

Open yourself up to receive everything that you’ve asked for. 

Using Your Six Senses in Meditative Foraging

stitchwort-verge-meditative-foraging
Sometimes the sheer abundance of nature can be almost overwhelming. Here, stitchwort flowers offer more than a light snack but a feast for the senses too.

Receive nature’s gifts through the portals of your six senses:

  1. Sound
  2. Sight
  3. Touch
  4. Taste
  5. Smell
  6. Inner Feeling (or In-Tuition)

1. Listen

Step out into nature, 

Quieten your mind and…

Listen

Listen to your footsteps on nature’s floor. 

Listen to the birds in the trees, the grasses in the breeze.

Listen to the cheerful sound of a bumblebee, doing his own bit of foraging.

Listen to how all of these myriad sounds make you feel. 

What comes alive in you, when you truly listen to the intricate tapestry of sounds already present in nature?

2. See

See 

Don’t just look but truly see.

See the wondrous diversity of colors, shapes, shades, and sizes that make up your visual surroundings.

See the radiance of a yellow flower reflecting the sunlight, almost luminous themselves.

See the dark, wizened flesh of an old tree, and the rich story of patterns contained there.

See which plants jump out in your field of vision, and let yourself be drawn to one of them.

Allow your sight to deepen into the visual layers of your plant and see what comes alive in you.

Stop for a moment… 

Before you move onto the next steps it’s important to know which plant you are about to get in touch with. Is it safe to touch, smell, and taste this plant?

If you are in doubt, take a photo or make a drawing of the plant and find out more about your chosen plant before you continue.

3. Touch

Touch.

Make contact. 

Let your physical body connect directly with that of your chosen plant.

Allow your hands to run along its skin, reading the Braille of its outer form. 

Let it communicate things to you – things that would be left unsaid through your other senses.

Allow the quality of your touch to transmit back your deep curiosity, reverence, and willingness to learn from this plant. 

Enjoy this feeling of connection, a mutual enjoyment of one another.

4. Smell

Smell.

If you feel invited to, use the deeply intimate portal of smell to further the exploration of your plant.

If your plant has flowers, breathe them in – are they fragrant? How about its fruits?

Crush a sample of the plant’s leaves, stem, or bark between your fingers and inhale its essence.

Let these smells permeate through any prior knowledge you had about this plant, and open up into powerful present moment communion.

5. Taste

Taste.

Does this plant’s appearance, texture, and smell invite you to meet it with your mouth? 

If so, take a small portion and crush it between your teeth. 

Allow its juices to flow through your mouth, penetrating taste receptors in all parts of your tongue.

How does this oral reading register in your body? 

If your body responds with gladness, a feeling of nourishment, or further curiosity to explore – give your plant a second bite. 

6. Feel

Feel.

Don’t think,  but feel what is going on around you and inside you.

What does this unique combination of senses leave you feeling about this plant, and how to use it?

What kind of resonance do you feel in your heart space, and what is your “gut feeling”?

Perhaps you feel called to gather some for a light snack, a herbal tea to brew at home, or if there’s enough, then maybe even a substantial meal. 

Gather Your Plant

raspberry-basket-meditative-foraging

Before, during, and after gathering a portion of leaves, fruits, flowers, or roots from your plant, offer back an attitude of sincere gratitude as you mindfully place it into your vessel. 

Never take more than you need, but at the same time don’t be shy to enjoy the full riches that the plant is offering you. 

Cultivating Gratitude

wood-sorrel-nymph-flower
Mysterious beings. When we forget our preconceived notions of what plants are, we might be amazed by what our direct perception reveals. Wood sorrel is an unassuming plant – its delicate beauty requires an appreciative eye.

Let the recognition of natural generosity flood through your system as you understand that in nature, things really are given for free.

The very life you are was given as a gift, and nature continues to support that life, through gifts such as the one you are gathering now. 

Recognize that your entire body, and most of the living world, is made up of plants. See how much you have to be thankful for…

Declare yourself as part of nature, by giving back in a way that honors that seed of goodness in you. 

Your well-spring of gratitude is a gracious gift to the world, and its waters nurture you and all of those around you in ways that you couldn’t imagine. 

The more you can allow this pool of gratitude to flow out of you, the greater the gifts of abundance will arrive in your life to match it.

Sensing the world as it really is and cultivating gratitude is a simple recipe for a happy and prosperous life. –Charlie Morton

Give Meditative Foraging a Try

meditative-foraging-basket-flowers-leaves

Give the methods I have suggested a try, and watch carefully for the mysterious gifts that may start trickling into your life…

You might end up coming home with a lot more than a basket brimming with dandelion leaves, crab apples, or bilberries, but a happy heart, resounding with the timeless chorus of natural goodness. 

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