Plant and Fungus Totem Guided Meditation - Appendix

Plant and Fungus Totems: Connect with Spirits of Field, Forest, and Garden - Lupa 2014

Plant and Fungus Totem Guided Meditation

The following meditation is a little different than the usual. You may be familiar with the common totem animal guided meditation, which takes you into a tunnel and then out into a natural setting where you’re supposed to meet your totem—or a totem, at any rate. This follows the same basic principle, but instead of going through a tunnel, you’re going to use the network of roots and mycelia beneath the earth, starting with where you are.

You can have someone read this meditation for you, record yourself reading it and then play it back, or even memorize it. This meditation is not timed, so you’re welcome to take as long as you like in each part of it. And there’s no single correct outcome, either. After the meditation I will include some troubleshooting tips, but those are just to help your next attempt to go more smoothly.

I do recommend giving yourself as much time coming out of the meditation as going into it. People often spend a lot of time shifting their consciousness into a meditative state and then going to their destination, but then pop right back out once the “business” part of the meditation is done. But the return home is just as important; it can allow you to process some of what you experience while your mind is still partly in the meditative state, and it allows you a gentler transition back to your waking consciousness.

If you need to come out of the meditation quickly for any reason, all you have to do is look up if you’re still following the underground network, and you’ll see a short tunnel back to your starting point on the surface, no matter where it was. Or if you need to go back to the underground network, just look at the ground beneath your feet, and there’ll be a short tunnel headed down where you can follow the network back to the starting place.

First, get into a comfortable place where you won’t be disturbed for the time you need. Make sure the temperature is right, and wear clothing that is loose and comfortable.

Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Let the thoughts in your mind drift away like smoke, and feel the tension drain out of your body and into the ground below you. Slow your breathing down, and feel the air go in and out of your lungs and respiratory passages.

When you are ready, visualize yourself sinking into the earth, shrinking as you do. A bubble of air forms around you, allow you to breathe easily. Even underground, you find that you can see quite clearly, and the soil is full of roots and mycelia everywhere. Because you are so small, they look like roads and pathways to you, and you wonder where they may go.

Look around until you see a root or mycelium that seems to glow a bit. Move toward it, and then begin to follow it. It will connect to another mycelium or root, then another, then another, each one lit by a small beacon of light. You move at your own pace, only as fast as you want to go.

As you move, you see a greater glow up ahead. The network takes you to this glow, and you find that it is the entire root system of a plant or mycelial network of a fungus. You follow this up, up, up, until you pop out of the earth and find yourself in a natural place. Take a little time to explore this place, to see what fungi and flora grow here. What sort of habitat is it? What’s the weather like? Do you see any animals here as well?

Now see if any plants or fungi particularly stand out to you, including the one you climbed to get here. If one in particular catches your attention, go up to it and greet it, then ask it why, out of all the others growing here, it stood out. Take some time to talk with each other, as much time as you need.

When you are ready to head back, thank the plant or fungus you spoke with for its time, and let it know that this is always a place you both can be in to meet again.

Go back to where you first emerged from the ground, and sink back into the earth. Follow the underground network of roots and mycelia back to your starting point, taking as much time as you like. Then rise back up through the earth to where you began and release the bubble of air you took with you. Wake up when you’re ready.

You may wish to record your experiences, whether through writing or speaking or whatever works best for you. This way you have a record of what happened while it’s fresh in your mind.

The way this meditation is written may make it seem like you can only use it the first time you meet a fungus or plant totem. However, you can always use it to go back and visit again. Just enter into the underground network with the intent of going to visit a particular totem and you should be led to where it is.

Troubleshooting and Tips

· If you find yourself being unable to stay in the meditation or your consciousness sort of fades in and out, chances are you just need to practice basic meditation more. Start with something simpler, like focusing only on your breathing, or on a single image or object. Once you feel you have more of a handle on that, try this meditation again.

· You might not find a particular fungus or plant totem that catches your attention, or the results may be ambiguous, like a feeling as though you need to talk to a particular totem but once you do, it doesn’t give much of a response. This may just mean that none of them felt ready to work with you yet, or that you aren’t quite ready. Or it may be that you didn’t explore far enough. Try again in a few days and see what happens. Sometimes it happens that a totem we meet early on but don’t interact with much at first is one we end up finding again later when we’re both more ready.

· If you aren’t sure what species the totem is, just make as many notes about its appearance as possible. Note the color, size, shape, and any other distinguishing characteristics. Then go back and do some research to see if you can at least narrow down what sort of fungus or plant it is. Also, keep in mind that totems don’t always show up “true to life.” They might look like their physical counterparts—except a different color. This can make identification a bit more frustrating, but take your time.

· Sometimes we end up with totems that we don’t feel comfortable with getting our attention. See it through, anyway. Sometimes the totems that have the most to teach us are the ones that are the hardest to work with. I’m not the biggest fan of poison oak because I’m quite allergic to it, but the totem Poison Oak has taught me quite a bit about setting and maintaining boundaries in a defensive rather than offensive manner.