I have had an image of a way to work with plant medicine floating around my brain for the past few months. The image is of a plant and human side-by-side. The plant (say a flower) has roots, stems and leaves, and a flowering top. The human looks just like you would imagine. What if we worked with plant medicines in a way that reflected this image? Plant roots to nourish our arms and legs, our root chakra, to ground our energy. Plant leaves to support the internal organs, the fluids like blood and lymph, the bones. Flowers and tops of plants serve to balance the head, the mind, the emotions, the energetic system.
Perhaps. It is just one way of seeing the relationship between humans and plants and is a suggestion of how to work with plants as medicine. I love this about working with plants. Humans have evolved with the natural world ever since the beginning of time and there is a certain kind-of intelligence in the relationship that we have with plants. This is not necessarily an intelligence of the head (although we are beginning to study various aspects of plants medicine) but a way of relating with the heart. The brain and nervous system are not the only ways that we receive information. The heart acts like a two-way radio, sending and receiving information all the time. This information may be processed through the nervous system and into the brain, but it doesn't always go that far immediately. Sometimes, there is a just a sense of knowing or perhaps intuition that comes from the heart messages.
Anyway, learning to listen to the natural world around us is a step toward living in harmony with the earth and all the inhabitants on it (plants, animals, humans, etc). Nature has many secrets to tell and stories about rhythms, healing, seasons of growth and death. Nature teaches us about power and stillness. For example, I was talking with a friend yesterday about opposites and how they often are interwoven. The opposites we were observing in our lives were stillness and movement. She mentioned that both tornadoes and hurricanes have tremendous destructive power, but right in the center, there is stillness.
With the movement of the tornado, there is tremendous power to create change, while being centered around complete stillness.
One of the most common complaints that I hear on a regular basis in my work is that of anxiety. We live in a world that takes us entire outside of our natural rhythms. Our body has many internal rhythms that are intended to flow with those of nature. For example, the pituitary gland (the master gland for the body) is designed to shift the hormones it makes depending on the light. When a person is always in un-naturally lit spaces or perhaps sleeps with a night-light on, this hormonal shift can become imbalanced.
I have been playing with trying to align with the rhythms of nature for the past few years. Here are a few of my favorite ways to flow with the seasons:
- Learn about each season from the trees (i.e. Leaves falling in fall, releasing old habits/beliefs/work/things no longer serving us)
- Eat seasonally appropriate foods when possible (soups and stews in winter, fresh, raw foods in summer)
- Learn about and nourish with herbs the organs associated with each season as taught in Traditional Chinese Medicine (kidneys and bladder in the winter, liver and gallbladder in the spring)
- Adjust my sleep patterns according to the season (sleep more in the winter, possibly even 12 hours/ nights, summer is for less that 6 hours of sleep and more activity)
- Take seasonally appropriate herbs and flower essences (usually based on the TCM organs for the season or what is growing and available at that time)
A few questions to ponder or perhaps to write about... Do you see nature, whether plants, animals, or seasons as your teacher? In what ways has it informed your life?