Orchids

Last year my son bought me an orchid for Christmas. It was a fairly tall orchid, with a long slender stem and 5 magnificent flowers. When he gave it to me the flowers were in full bloom and they lasted for absolutely ages before gradually fading one by one and eventually dropping gracefully off. Having never owned an orchid before, I dutifully looked up what to do with my orchid and followed the instructions that I found, which said to cut the stem half way down after the last flower has fallen.

It was around this time, that whilst out watching my son play football, I spotted another orchid that someone had left next to a rubbish bin. There were no flowers on this abandoned orchid and although it was simply a small stick, stuck in a disposable plastic cup of dried dirt, I had a sense of rescuing something that was very much alive. I carefully picked it up and put it in my car. When I got home I put my newly acquired orchid next to my other orchid on the kitchen table. My partner said, “It’s a shame that orchids are so ugly when they don’t have flowers” and he was right. When there are no flowers on an orchid they are pretty much just a plain old stick: sure, the leaves can be seen as beautiful, but nothing stands out at all about an orchid that is not in bloom, and what’s more, there is no indication whatsoever of the beauty that lies within.

The kitchen table is where I have most of my meals and for as long as I can remember, when I ate by myself, I would eat in front of the computer. To be honest I never really gave it a second thought, I simply saw it as an opportunity to get stuff done. Recently however, I had been noticing more and more the mild palpitations that I felt in connection with getting what I perceived to be ‘my work’ done. There is not one single moment that our bodies are not reflecting how we are feeling back to us – even in sleep the narrative continues. There have been times, for example, that I have peered at my computer screen through smeary glasses or perched uncomfortably on the edge of a cushion, the anxiety that pricked away at my chest combined with an insistent drive to keep ‘moving forward’ seemed to prevent me from pausing for a moment to either clean my glasses or adjust my cushion, however the fact of the matter is, I could have chosen to care for myself at any moment, it’s just that I didn’t.

As a result of my increased awareness around my anxiousness, I made what for me was a radical decision: I chose to stop having my meals in front of the computer and chose instead to start having them with my orchids. Now initially it was me and a couple of twigs, one whose splendour was known and the other that was, at this stage, still somewhat of a mystery. With each meal that I had, I would sit and observe the development of my orchids. It was my rescued orchid that showed the first embryonic signs of life and I was fascinated to see that my original orchid responded within days with its own tiny stirrings.

With the first glimpses of the flowers came another realisation about the level of anxiety that I felt on a daily basis. I noticed that although I was now choosing to sit and eat without distraction, I barely managed to swallow my last mouthful of food before I was scraping my chair back and launching myself into whatever I perceived needed to be done next. On realising this, I chose to shut my eyes soon after swallowing my last piece of food and to then physically surrender my whole body as deeply as I could. I did not sit for long, but it was long enough for me to feel the skin on my head sinking back towards my muscles and my muscles sinking back towards my bones, as opposed to the usual panicky petrification that I felt as my muscles sprang away from my bones and my skin leapt away from my muscles.

Over the next few weeks my orchids and I continued our slow unfoldment. Each bloom seemed to have its own independent sense of timing and yet the synchronicity between the blooms was evident. I could sense that each flower was involved in its own development and that although it had its own unique relationship with itself, it still remained very much part of the whole plant; this included the other flowers, the stem, the leaves, the roots and the soil, as well as the water that it received from me. I also got to feel how I was part of the process too, whether I chose to use filtered water or water from the tap, how often I watered my orchids and the energetic quality with which I actually poured the water.

Each bloom was radiantly beautiful in its own right and once opened seemed to stand in almost regal stillness. Eventually, over many weeks, all of the blooms on both orchids were fully open and the effect was nothing short of spectacular. My rescued orchid turned out to be a glorious purple and it had a holding quality that reached deep within my body.

The glorious detail with which orchids reflect the most intimate parts of a woman’s body is for me symbolic of the fact that orchids serve as a gentle reminder to both men and women of the femaleness that lies equally within us all. Every orchid silently conveys the vast stillness that makes up the very fabric of our being, yet despite the great beauty that each and every orchid reflects, it is but a mere fraction of the unfathomable and unwavering beauty that is inherent in us all.

By Alexis Stewart, Care worker with the Intellectually Disabled, Yoga Teacher, Mother of a Stunning Boy, Partner to a very Tender Man, A Woman who is finally remembering who she is, Sydney, Australia

Related Reading:
Nature: The Ultimate Reflection
Nature – Life – Responsibility
All of nature is here to support us to return to who we truly are

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664 thoughts on “Orchids

  1. I’ve recently been given a baby snake plant. I love watching how it grows and checking with it each day. Now I am curious about my relationship with my own growth. Do I enjoy it as it is or place expectations, deadlines and milestones to it?

  2. As humans as we explore our essences we open up to the deeper realm that lies within and like a lotus we open to the world and can then leave the murky-ness of the watery grave we were in and live from our Soul-full-essences and remain radiant in all we do as you have so Lovingly shared Alexis.

  3. Alexis after reading your wonderful blog I will look very differently at orchids and at nature around me. It seems that everything in nature is “telling” us something important – something to understand ourselves a bit deeper – what a wonderful gift our nature is.

  4. Over the years my husband has had many orchids but they wouldn’t bloom for long and die, or so I thought so I would throw them out. After reading this some time ago, I keep the one from last year and have been talking to it and low and behold it has started to make a lot of new fonds. So we wait in anticipation for it to flower again, but in the meantime, we have given it a friend to stand next to another orchid.

  5. I love the symbolism of the orchid – when in its ‘stick’ form not to judge life by the surface appearance and hence not to judge at all and when it is in flower not to hold back expressing all of one’s beauty.

  6. I recall when I was a child and we had the opportunity to see a special flower bloom in Africa. It was a bloom that only bloomed at night and only for that one night. As a family we set the timer on and woke up at night to see how the bud had opened and released the most magnificent white flower accompanied by an incredible scent that perfumed the whole surrounds. There was something very special and magical about this.

  7. Alexis I love this blog because I love my Orchids and they love growing in my house. There is always something new to see, a new shoot or a new Arial root appearing, when they shoot out a flower stalk I check them every day and watch as the buds grow into fat green pods that turn white then they pop open and reveal their delicate flower and within there is a variety of the most exquisite colours. My sister has just given me another Orchid to add to my collection some are sitting in my front window and they are my companions as I work at my desk. To me they optimize the saying never judge a book by its cover.

  8. Alexis, I love this; ‘I chose to shut my eyes soon after swallowing my last piece of food and to then physically surrender my whole body as deeply as I could. I did not sit for long,’ It is very gorgeous to sit and be still and allow the body to surrender. In the mornings after getting ready in the bathroom I love to stand for a minute and settle into my body – feeling my legs and feet, I notice that if I do this then I leave the bathroom more steady and connected and less in a rush to get on with the next thing. it feels great to do this in the day to take these moments to stop and surrender rather than getting caught up in busyness and momentum.

    1. Beautiful Rebecca. It is what we convey with our bodies that gets registered and so I feel that in these moments we are making a clear statement with our bodies that we are not getting caught up in the illusion of time but that we are choosing to be with our bodies and therefore in the truth of space.

  9. Love the simplicity of the orchid when is not in full bloom as well. This time of repose reflects me that it doesn’t matter the shapes and colours you wear, we all are innately beautiful from inside. What we do or say on the outside doesn’t change this fact.

  10. Recently I received a bouquet of flowers. Observing them, I realized how different they were, each one had a unique colour and scent, there was a different expression, but I could not choose what was better than others… and it came a revelation for me…I couldn’t choose one upon another because in essence there is no better or worse, just an emanation, an expression of the natural beauty that is in each one. I find very inspiring the simplicity in how they were sharing its gorgeousness, no time for competitions and jealousy, but a togetherness that inspired me so much.

  11. Thank you Alexis, your sharing makes me realize how much beauty I can take for granted and almost forget along my day. This beauty from the orchids you talk about is there, and also inside us but how much do we stop to appreciate it? It seems like there is no time to do such things…but seeing how revealing was for you opens up my curiosity and inspires me to embrace the inherent Beauty inside all of us and around. Actually it’s everywhere as it is where we come from.

  12. I love that how each flower was involved in its own unfoldment, but still remaining part of the whole plant. We cannot be without each other, and the whole.

  13. Alexis this is a good reminder to me to sit, and take stock before going launching into dinner. I have been super busy at work lately and I have let my standards slip sometimes eating lunch standing up half on the go.

    I love that it is just a choice and I am offered the opportunity everyday to choose more lovingly.

  14. For me there are so many lessons within your very powerful blog Alexis, but today’s one is ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, and in this case don’t judge an orchid by its outer appearance, when its not in bloom. So often in life I feel that we walk by people who we judge before we even know them and maybe in the process we miss out on getting to see and to know the beautiful ‘blooms’ that they actually are.

  15. I love how orchids do synchronise to each other, we have two orchids too and they just started to make new flower stems a couple of weeks ago both in the same week. You could say it is luck or the time of the year but it feels like they are aligned to each other and show how we all are aligned to bigger cycles that govern us more than we are currently aware of.

  16. The beauty of femaleness is out of this world. It is a type of beauty that blossoms within and that then reveals its timeless beauty to everyone and which silently, but also loudly, invites others to open up to their own femaleness.

  17. I love the unfoldment you describe here Alexis, how you allowed yourself (and your orchids) the needed time to unfold, to take space and how in that you all blossomed. How you describe muscles away from bone, away from skin was very telling as I could feel how when I’m anxious that’s exactly how it feels and to allow oneself to nestle back into our bones, when I remember to do it, it’s amazing and you remind me that this is how I can be.

  18. Orchids seem to love my house and they are a constant source of delight to me, I love to watch for the possibility if a bud that at first looks like another aerial root but then on closer inspection it is the start of the flower stem. As the flower stem grows watching how the flower buds form and the colour changes because everything is in slow motion as it where there is time to appreciate every stage of the development. All my orchids have white flowers which at first are green and then they turn white as they slowly unfurl and in the centre of the flower there are yellow and red tinges. The flowers are so graceful and full of beauty. When they are dormant this doesn’t matter to me because I know their potential and it is so worth waiting for. As a reflection we could say that Orchids can reflect back to us our own potential that lies dormant and the offering that if we were to wake from our deep apathy we too would be full of grace and beauty naturally so.

  19. I love how when you started to nurture yourself the orchids started to bloom. How beautiful is nature in its symbology showing us how we start to blossom when we start to take care of ourselves.

  20. I love how a flower just accepts itself as a flower and does not try and be anything other than a flower. Just like the flower we also need to accept ourselves in full.

  21. What a beautiful symbology for us and for the cycles of life. We all need space and have our time to blossom and to regenerate after that and sometimes cutting things out and taking super tender care of the body.

  22. I love orchids and recently I was gifted with two very beautiful ones, and whilst I place them in a position suitable for them to flourish and feed them as necessary, I have not given them the care and attention you share about in you blog…. so Alexis, thank you for sharing your orchid story…. I now feel inspired to deepen my level of connection with my two very beautiful orchids.

  23. Recently I have noticed the most exquisite silvery shimmer on the white petals of my tiny white orchid. It is an almost magical shimmer that I remember seeing on snow as a child. The depth of the beauty of nature really does defy words.

    1. Naturally so. I have a few orchids that flower, lose their petals and then return to life again with their blooms. As you say Sam, when we give anything love, care and attention it cant fail to develop – and grow. Do we give ourselves the same loving attention I wonder?!

      1. Sue this to me, feels absolutely key “Do we give ourselves the same loving attention I wonder?!” and I would say that the majority of us don’t, not only do we not give ourselves loving attention but we actively engage in self harming behaviours. Now those self harming behaviours are many and varied but include things like chastising ourselves, thinking negative thoughts about ourselves, holding ourselves back, moving in a way that is abrupt and rushed. We either have our foot on the brakes or on the accelerator of life and it feels to me that whether or not we are giving ourselves loving attention is the determining factor.

  24. As I am chewing my last mouthful of food I am already at the sink washing up. I have done this for a long time. Despite knowing that when we eat it is much healthier to rest and digest I still have not committed to changing this behaviour.

    1. This is one pattern I have been committed to dismantling for the last few months but I still find myself getting up from the table still chewing. Sometimes I turn around and sit back down again but even then I can feel the pull to get back up. But in spite of a few moments of slipping into this unloving momentum I can feel that meal by meal I am finally getting to a place where I finish chewing and take the time to appreciate the beautiful meal I have just eaten. and this feels so much more honouring of me and my body. A very worthwhile work in progress.

      1. Thank you for sharing Ingrid – as crazy as it sounds I hadn’t actually thought that when I catch myself heading to the sink still chewing to actually sit back down until I have completed my meal.

  25. Orchids are gorgeous, just as many things in nature are. But that beauty is magnified when we feel it as a confirmation of what is within us, as opposed to being the witness of and not the holder of equal and greater beauty.

  26. Watching a flower blossom is so gorgeous just as watching a person grow in awareness is super gorgeous.

  27. The care shown to the abandoned orchid was a great reflection of the care that was growing within the writer. The choices made were simple, stop being distracted on the computer while you eat or not rushing off as soon as you finish. Yet they are very honouring and say ‘no’ to the energy of rush, doing and drive that dominate most women.

    1. Whenever we say ‘no’ to something, we are also simultaneously saying ‘yes’ to something else. I said ‘no’ so consistently to rush and anxiety that by default stillness has now become part of my living way.

  28. That ‘panicky petrification’ is a feeling I know so well. What I’m finding though is that the more I just let go of whatever ‘I need to get done’ thoughts are floating past, and just allow them to float past without grabbing onto them, the less I feel that ‘never enough, must get on’ panic. Letting go of the mind’s dictations is a process that happens as we build and appreciate our connection to our bodies, and allow ourselves to be okay with whatever we’re feeling: not needing to feel or be a certain way.

  29. I have seen this as a lesson in/on life and how if we truly care for ourselves or something how the wonderment unfolds as I am so not good at looking after orchids! … Maybe this is a lesson I need to learn with orchids!

  30. ‘I chose to stop having my meals in front of the computer and chose instead to start having them with my orchids.’ I had to laugh Alexis, having lunch with an orchid but it’s true they offer a beautiful reflection, with or without flowers, there is always a growth and to observe this constant and consistent movement can be very inspiring for us as human beings, orchids don’t hold back their innate beauty coming out.

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