Wednesday, October 1, 2014

if you could plant anything . . .

IF YOU COULD PLANT anything, what would you plant? The hypnotist had guided our small group through an enticing gateway, into a sun-lighted corner of an imaginary garden, and was conjuring a fertile patch of freshly tilled earth.
     I began planting imaginary seeds with my eyes closed, unsure exactly what kind of seeds I was planting. Who knows what the other members of the group, a mix of quadriplegics, stroke and brain injury survivors, were planting?
     I’d prepared tea during the first half of the group session, black raspberry green tea, and we’d talked about where tea came from as we drank it together, so it made sense that the hypnotist, a colleague of mine who I’d invited to lead the second half of my group, would suggest —hypnotists love to suggest — perhaps we might plant tea.
     I was like — that’s a great idea! I’d never thought about tending a tea garden before. There was something exciting and magical about growing my own tea, living on nothing but oolong. The dreamy half of me, at least, thought it was a great idea. The earthy half of me felt it might not be so practical. Could I really survive on tea alone? Were we restricted to one crop? She didn’t say.
     At the same time I was telling myself that it was just a guided visualization and not a business plan I was also thinking, wouldn’t a coconut palm be more sustaining? Of course I’d have to have a big coconut cracker handy. Where was this garden anyway? She didnt say it was on a desert isle. Could I crack coconuts with other coconuts? She didnt say we couldnt have hammers. Bananas would be easier to peel, but I’d get really sick of bananas. I mean, after one big banana even, I’m so sick of bananas. Could I imagine eating only bananas forever? No. Coconuts, I think I could. I never tire of coconuts. Plus, they come with milk. Or hemp, I hear, is versatile, and I think you can make hemp milk.
     In another section of her garden she conjured a variety of sweet-smelling flowers, gardenia, magnolia and honeysuckle. Over here, majestic redwoods. Over there, wild prairie. And a section with only weeds she suggested we try pulling up. She was really getting into it, tugging on those weeds, pinching weeds from the earth.
     Eighteen minutes into the garden, the room grew palpably restless. I cracked open an eye to take a temperature of the group. Half had opened their eyes. One man had stood and was stretching. The hypnotist, feeling the same energy, backed us out of the garden slowly.
     As you say goodbye to your garden, she said, perhaps you’re more alert. (Hypnotists love to use words like perhaps and maybe and if and drifting.) Crossing through the gate, she said, perhaps you’re more awake. As you begin to notice the room around you, maybe you notice that the feeling of the garden is still with you, here in this room as you open your eyes.