How to Bring Back the Joy of Life: An Interview with Alison Gayek

February 14, 2016

A Plant Spirit Medicine Healer Training begins in April at the Blue Deer Center. I spent a moment with Alison Gayek, one of the course teachers, to ask her about why healing, why now, why this course? And the answer was Joy.

Alison Gayek started her Plant Spirit Medicine healing practice in 1999 and began teaching Plant Spirit Medicine with Eliot Cowan in 2002. She currently teaches the Healer Training Course as well as introductory courses in Plant Spirit Medicine and continuing education courses for PSM Healers. She also works as clinical consultant for PSM graduates and continues to bring the medicine to many through her clinical practice.

Blue Deer Center: What is Plant Spirit Medicine?

Alison: Plant Spirit Medicine is a healing modality that uses plants for healing. It’s been around for thousands of years. Every indigenous culture has a way of healing with plants and plant spirits. Because of that, it’s one of the most basic healing modalities there is. Plant Spirit Medicine creates deep healing and helps bring people back into balance with themselves. And what’s important about that is when we work from a place of balance we’re able to realize our strengths — the things in life we were brought here to do. Plants are really good at bringing us back to that internal balance and helping people be more at home with themselves. Plant Spirit Medicine can help people recover from all sorts of things, whether it’s physical, mental, emotional, or what we’d call spiritual concerns. That’s because when that balance is restored, it creates the conditions for healing.

Why is this kind of healing important for today?

In the modern world, we lead lives that push us beyond our limits. We constantly have to do things that create a lot of stress, whether it’s working long hours, or not having the support we need, not having the communities we need. And that can lead us to reduce ourselves to an existence of just getting things done. Plants can bring back the vibrancy, the quality of life, the remembrance of why we’re here. They can help us deal with our stresses. Plant Spirit Medicine has the ability to heal us on many levels. Part of that is when the plants bring deep healing to what we would call our “imbalances,” we have a greater capacity to handle what comes our way. I think that’s really important in this day and age.

Why plants for this kind of balancing, and not rocks and animals and other natural beings?

Rocks and animals for sure have some healing abilities. As for the plants, they have always been around in the world and have always offered themselves as helpers and healers to us. They’re incredibly generous. They’re wise. If you go and sit down with a plant or a tree, often you can feel better just from being with them. So they’re constantly offering their gifts—they’re great healers. And the wonderful thing about it is that plants are available to everybody. It’s a birth right for all of us to be in relationship with the plants and to receive healing from them.

The Plant Spirit Medicine Healer Training beginning in April at the Blue Deer Center is about teaching people to work with plants to bring healing. That’s a big title to take on. So what do you think it means to be a "healer"?

From our point of view, a healer is someone who facilitates healing for another person. It’s a desire to help a person come back into the best form of self they can be. Many of the students who come through our course don’t have any experience in a healing modality. But there’s something in them that calls them to do this work. We’ve found it’s a dream that a lot of people on this earth have had and they don’t even realize they’ve had it. Then something gets awakened in them to want to help others in a way that really restores people. So, a healer in our sense is a facilitator. It’s somebody who’s willing to take the time to learn the modality so they can determine what a person needs on a deep soul level. And then offer that to the person. It is someone who wants to spend their lives helping people in that way.

Who would you recommend this training to?

The training is available to anyone who’s willing to do the work. Learning to help people heal at a core level requires work and dedication. There is homework during the class, so that when a person graduates they’re ready to help people. I would say that people actually know inside themselves in some way that this work is for them, so it’s waking that up. Plant Spirit Medicine is a very learnable modality, as long as a person is willing to do the work that’s required.

Do some people finish the course and decide not to become healers?

Sure. Some people who take the course view it as a stepping stone to something else in their lives. Perhaps they’ve decided they don’t want to be a "healer," or not a healer in this way, yet they’ve felt that the course has led them to find what they are truly here to do in this life. Many people will use what they get in the course and carry it with them into their next chapter. In that sense, the Plant Spirit Medicine Training Course opens many doors for people, whether they practice the medicine in this way or not.

If they do decide to become healers with a practice, there’s an organization called the Plant Spirit Medicine Association. What do they offer graduates of this program?

The Association is a young organization having been created in 2007. Their mission is to offer support for healers after they’ve graduated. They offer a yearly conference for both educational and supportive purposes. The Conference is a wonderful way for the healers to get together and share with each other. In addition there’s continuing education offered by the Plant Spirit Medicine Seminary. This is also really great for graduates because once you start working with people you come up with questions you didn’t even know that you had when you were taking the course. So, there’s ongoing education and support both from the PSM Association and the PSM Seminary.

For people who take this training, what changes might they expect to see in their life?

That’s an interesting question. Whenever anyone takes the class, they go through a healing process themselves. The plants have this ability to push out what’s not needed and heal some of those things that get stuck in us. And for each individual this is different. We don’t all need the same things. But I think everybody who takes the course would say they have more of a sense of rootedness and a visceral knowing of how the divine natural world is part of our lives. They have more of a sense of support from and relationship with the divine natural world. We see people having more aliveness, and a greater sense of how the seasons and the elements and the plants and the trees are such a big part of our everyday life. That can sound really mundane because a lot of people already have a good relationship with nature. But each person who completes the course speaks of experiencing a healing just from taking the course itself.

Anything else you’d like to add as inspiration?

Let’s see. I’ve practiced Plant Spirit Medicine for at least seventeen years now. Maybe a little longer. And it never ceases to amaze me—the type of help the plants give to people. And the joy that can be brought back to people’s lives. I’ve worked with people with all manner of ailments, whether they be physical, emotional or spiritual in nature, and the plants are wonderful with helping their concerns. I’ve seen a lot of healing come to people. It’s really joyful. It’s really exciting to work with each new person who comes through the door. And it’s never the same. So, I would say that this is a medicine that has the capacity to offer help to a lot of people. And I think that the type of help offered by the plants is something that’s really needed in the world today.

Thank you, Alison…

Thank you.