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Practice learning.
posted on Thursday, January 6th 2011 12:38 pm
(this is part 10 of a 10-part series, a life’s journey to become an herbalist observing gail faith edward’s article on the subject. you can find part 1part 2part 3part 4.1part 4.2part 5part 6part 7part 8 and part 9 here.)

gail’s tenth step in her ten-fold path is to practice learning. she says:

Practice learning. Talk to others about your interests. Keep company with others who share your passion. Exchange ideas freely, share your knowledge. Ask others what their experience/observation is. Listen and learn.

As an elder and a teacher I can tell you that some of the people I learn the most from are my young students. They continually keep me fresh and on my toes with their new ideas and information. They inspire me. Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know something. We are all learners here. Practice learning every day.”

who here is on facebook, raise your hand!

how about herbmentor?

herbwifery forum?

yeah, i belong to them all! and my partner used to make fun of me for being on facebook (i have since converted him and he’s on there just as much as me, if not more!). what he didn’t understand at the time was the wealth of networking, friendship and knowledge of obtained from being on there. even though i don’t know half my list ‘in real life’, i love being part of the herbal facebook community. being able to read, comment and discuss my herbal interests has been a godsend. there isn’t much of an herbalist community in real life so i had to go online to seek it. i am honored to call the people i’m connected to on facebook friends and happy that i’ve been able to meet a bunch of them thanks to kiva and wolf’s hard work of creating the traditions in western herbalism conference!

most of my friends are herb nerds just like me so whenever we get together, talk usually turns to herbs at some point during the visit. there’s not a day that goes by i don’t think of herbs in some form. heck, there’s not an hour that goes by at that! 

my monthly study group is a great way to get together with people who love to talk herbs. sometimes people who study as much as i do come sharing their knowledge too and we all get to learn even more! 

i read articles, blog entries, monographs, plant healer magazine and anything else i can get my hands on. i seek out conferences where i can learn and study and teach. the more i learn, the less i feel i know! this is a lifetime pursuit of knowledge and when i die, i still won’t be satisfied that i’ve learned all i want or can. 

every day, i make a point to read something about herbs, herbalism, medicine, the human body, a disease or anything that has to do with learning in general. it may only be a 3 minute article or an hour absorbed in a great book such as ‘invasive plant medicine’ but every day, i’m here, learning.

practice learning. practice herbalism. practice life. 

every day. 

without fail.

Be your own refuge
posted on Wednesday, January 5th 2011 12:36 pm
(this is part 9 of a 10-part series, a life’s journey to become an herbalist observing gail faith edward’s article on the subject. you can find part 1part 2part 3part 4.1part 4.2part 5, part 6, part 7 and part 8 here.)

gail’s ninth step in her ten-fold path is to be your own refuge. she says:

Be your own refuge. OK, the Buddha said this, but it’s worth repeating! It helps to live away from the crowd. Learn to do your own thing. Dance around the rim, live on the edge. Be the center of your own universe. Attract supportive, loving people to surround you. Love them back, but keep your space. You’ll need it. You need to become who you truly are, express what is within you to be expressed. You may want to mirror the plants, but not other herbalists. Learn from others, but develop your own ways, your own formulas, your own path. Practice being yourself.

Get to know yourself. Really well. You cannot know plants or people well until you know yourself. Admit your foibles, acknowledge your strengths, and build upon your knowledge of self to extend help, love, compassion and healing to others.

i’ve been having a lot of fun with this one this past year! for most of my life, i have stopped short of expressing myself, allowing myself to be who i really felt i was because of disapproval from my family and some friends. over the years i misplaced those friends, most on purpose, if they didn’t support me for who i was or accept me for who i was. my family wasn’t so easy though. 

i put up with comments that were painful, being told i looked like a circus side show or that my style was ‘out’ and numerous other snide comments. i started suppressing my desires and choices based on how my family would react. 

and then, last year, i said, no, i screamed: ENOUGH! i wrote down my feelings in a long letter and sent it off which started a long series of replies back and forth in which nothing but silence was accomplished. but in that year, i started coming back out of my shell. 

so now, i embrace myself. i no longer fight with my hair, i let it tangle, dread and love it! i dress in gypsy shabby clothing, go barefoot as long as i can stand it, i wear lots of bones, feathers and other natural objects. my house is decorated with anything we can drag in from outside…limbs, eggs, snake skins, animal skulls, dried flowers, on and on. 

even my zine i write is a reflection of me. it’s my interpretation of each herb, i express each herb through stories, songs, poems, crafts, recipes and more. i sketch them, draw them, paint them and add my drawings to the mix. 

i am becoming my own true wild self, the self i know and love. i share this self with only my closest friends, only those who will love me and appreciate me for who. i. am. 

i reject the society around me but not the community. to the community i offer my heart, my time, my knowledge and my experience through the local markets, my monthly study group and soon monthly presentations at the library. the library who asked ME to present, who accepts me, dreads and all for who i am, freely and happily. 

i tell my friends and children and partner that i love them all the time. i hug, embrace, rejoice with them. i am still working on keeping that space. i have none in my house, my kids are with me all the time. even when i leave, they are usually with me. showering, using the toilet…never alone. but that will come in time i know. and in the meantime, i am learning about my weaknesses and strengths and working on changing what i want or need to change about myself to become a better person.

Listen to your clients
posted on Tuesday, January 4th 2011 12:35 pm

(this is part 8 of a 10-part series, a life’s journey to become an herbalist observing gail faith edward’s article on the subject. you can find part 1part 2part 3part 4.1part 4.2part 5, part 6 and part 7 here.)

gail’s eighth step in her ten-fold path is to listen to your clients. she says:

“Listen to your clients. Practice deep listening. Breathe deeply from your heart when you are with a client. Look into their eyes. Listen to the words they use as well as to their tone of voice, where they pause, swallow, take a breath. Learn to listen deeply. Allow your client to tell you what is wrong, what they need. Then commit to helping them. Practice noticing everything you can about your client. Look for the health, look for the radiance, look for the bright light in your clients. Nourish this.”

listening can be such a hard thing to do. and not just listening to the words, but listening to the tones, the vibrations, the emotions, the body language. i have a short attention span so this is one step i struggle with. luckily, i don’t see clients often and usually, they are friends of mine and i am more willing to listen to what they have to say. 

so, i’m looking for guidance on how to listen deeply. how do you listen to someone (not just a client) who is talking about a subject that doesn’t interest you? how do you stay tuned in even though you’ve heard it a million times before? how do you stay focused on their words, thoughts, emotions, body language? how have you learned to listen deeply?

Cultivate your spirituality.
posted on Friday, December 31st 2010 12:35 pm

(this is part 7 of a 10-part series, a life’s journey to become an herbalist observing gail faith edward’s article on the subject. you can find part 1part 2part 3part 4.1, part 4.2part 5  and part 6 here.)

gail’s seventh step in her ten-fold path is to cultivate your spirituality. she says:

Cultivate your spirituality. Learn to pray. Pray often. Smudge by burning herbs. Give thanks often, many times a day. Fall in love not only with plants, but with all of life. Fall in love with your clients. Commit to them. Pray for them. It is on this level of prayer, the spiritual level that you will connect most deeply with both plants and your clients.

Develop a spiritual discipline if you do not already have one. Cultivate your innate spirituality. Whatever that means to you. Be upright, honest, fair, clear and impeccable in all your dealings. People and plants have to trust you. You must be worthy of that trust. You have to keep your word. You have to be true. Be ethical in the way you interface with life and especially with the earth, with plants, people and all living things. Your way of life, attitudes and sense of ethics, as well as your approach to herbs and herbal medicine, is in large part what will attract others to you.

Cultivate hope. Hope is a critically important part of the healing equation. Your positive attitude is critical to your clients ongoing healing. I tell my community herbalist students that if your client does not turn around to you at the end of a consultation session and say words to the effect of “Thanks, I feel so much better already.” Then you have not done your job.

this is something i need a lot of work on. there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done and so spirituality has taken a back burner. i do want to change this though. i have a book on simplicity and quakerism that i keep tucked into my ballet bag for reading before and after class. that’s just once a week but it’s a few moments i can steal towards more moments…

gail’s words are right on with quaker teachings…”be upright, honest, fair, clear and impeccable in all your dealings. People and plants have to trust you. You must be worthy of that trust. You have to keep your word. You have to be true. Be ethical in the way you interface with life and especially with the earth, with plants, people and all living things.” this is one of the quaker testimonies, to be honest and fair in all of one’s dealings. i do hope people see in  this manner as i do try to be honest and fair at all times. i find myself being dishonest when i don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings and i realize this is a major weakness of mine that i need to work on. more so, i need to learn tact so i can be honest tactfully. i tend to be blunt and not always sensitive. not on purpose though. 

i’ll be thinking about this step a lot over the next few weeks while i try to find the time to focus more on my spirituality and with living the quaker beliefs i’d like to be living…

how do you cultivate hope? how are you spiritual? how do you cultivate your innate spirituality? 

Simplify your life.
posted on Saturday, December 18th 2010 12:34 pm
(this is part 6 of a 10-part series, a life’s journey to become an herbalist observing gail faith edward’s article on the subject. you can find part 1part 2part 3part 4.1part 4.2 and part 5 here.)

gail’s sixth step in her ten-fold path is to simplify your life. she says:

“Simplify your life. Live as simply and as naturally as you can. Try to drink wild water, eat wild plants. Swim in natural lakes and ponds or the ocean. Get yourself back to nature, first in little steps, then run, as fast as you can. Look up at the sky at night, notice the phases of the moon, the situation of the stars. Welcome the sun rise in the morning, go to bed when it gets dark. Light candles instead of turning on electric lights. Sleep outside on the ground as much as possible. Walk barefoot on the earth. Do these things day after day, month after month, year after year.”

there is nothing i like better than to walk outside at night and stare up at the moon and stars. i love finding constellations and learning the story of each one. i tell these stories over and over to my kids and partner. when i had more energy, i used to bake full moon cookies and sometimes i’d make crescent cookies for the waxing and waning moon cycles to honor the moon’s cycles and make my kids aware of her monthly changes. 

i go barefoot probably 9 months out of the year until the ground becomes too cold and frozen for me to tolerate. i have poor circulation so my feet and hands are usually cold. exposing them to the cold ground makes them cramp so i have to don wool socks and lined earth boots otherwise, i’d be barefoot year round. 

i love the feel of the ground on my feet, the softness of the grass, the harshness of the gravel drive, the squishiness of mud between my toes, the warmth of the path stones that lead to the gardens. i feel so grounded when i can make that connection. 

we have an aladdin lamp and candles that i like to burn in the winter time when it is dark so early. candles adorn our dining table and the aladdin lamp sits by my side when i am reading or writing at the kitchen table. this year, i invested in the full spectrum bulbs to put in the lights as well for when we need brighter light. so far, i’ve had no serious sadness as i’ve experienced in the past. even though the lights aren’t natural, they are closer to natural light than the cfl that we’ve used in the past. 

i miss camping. we used to travel to colorado once a year to camp out in the mountains. waking up a dawn with the crispness of the morning air was wonderful. the smell of pine needles, the rushing of the river, the calls of the birds was a refreshing change. since our situation won’t allow us to do that right now, i need to make a plan to get out more locally for camping, even if it means staying in my own back yard! we will work on this next spring and summer. i’d love to create an outdoor bedroom for summertime sleeping. that would be magical! 

wild foods is something i’ve always had a love affair with. i have fond memories as a child of going down to the woods behind our house, harvesting wild onions and other edibles and cooking meals on a small fire that i ate, all in secret as i knew my parents would have forbid me to do it on the grounds that 1. i would burn down the woods and 2. i would poison myself. smile. on the flip side, i encourage my children to do this…last summer all 6 got into a ‘survival day’ of sorts and went out to do just that. one of my kids even fried up worms and ate them…not something i would have done, but hey, that was his choice. their meals included nettles, mulberries, wild onions and cattails. 

last year, our dog brought home a rabbit and i jumped on the chance to have it for dinner! poor dog, she had no idea what happened to her meal. i did give her part of it for her trouble. 

Study, Study, Study.
posted on Friday, December 17th 2010 12:32 pm

(this is part 5 of a 10-part series, a life’s journey to become an herbalist observing gail faith edward’s article on the subject. you can find part 1part 2, part 3, part 4.1 and part 4.2 here.)

gail’s fifth step in her ten-fold path is to study, study, study. she says:

“When my children where young I would wake up at 4:30 in the morning, light some candles quietly in the kitchen so as not to wake anyone, and read and study for a few hours until the kids woke up. Then I would spend all day during the growing season working in the garden or wildgathering. At the end of the day, after the kids fell asleep, I again lit some candles and read by firelight before going to sleep myself. I was completely consumed by my studies. I was obsessed. You will need to be serious about attending to your studies. You will have to make time for them. This requires commitment. You may have to make some sacrifices.

Read, read, read. Read plant books and herbals from all traditions,study botany, read medical journals and herbal monographs, books about all kinds of healing, delve into psychology, sexuality, addiction, depression, skin diseases, nervous afflictions…cover it all, leave no stone unturned. But do take your time. Absorb, don’t just skim. Be diligent in your reading, your studying, your research. Read everything you can get your hands on, and keep reading and studying your subject and related subjects for the rest of your life. It helps to keep notes on personal reading as well as observation…keep copious notes. Collect whole volumes. Underline your own notes…

If you want a teacher, go out and find one you are attracted to. Find one whose approach to working with plants and people lines up with your own. Someone who shares your values. A teacher can be someone just passing through your life, or someone you will consider to be your teacher and mentor for many years. Choose carefully. Then apply yourself to learning all you can from your teacher. Soak it all up from A to Z. Offer thanks. And be sure to include a grain of salt.”

this really hits home for me. one of my biggest complaints is the kids take all my time and give me none in return to study or focus. i end up staying up very late at night to work after everyone is asleep but the downside is my time with my partner is taken from too. finding balance between kids, home, partner, writing and study is hard.

i do tend to read everything i can though. my collection of books grows continuously and i have lots of herbal magazines sitting about too. videos such as numen and julie of the herbs adorn my dvd shelves and i glean the blog of kiva, writings and herb walks of jim, and everything i can from herbmentor.com. i’m currently signed up with kiva for a mentorship that will probably be ongoing for the next 2 years and i am halfway through herbenergetics.com as well. i live in the midwest and herbal schools are lacking in this area. as a way of giving back, i offer a herbal study group once a month and teach others about herbs. doing this not only helps others learn but it also helps to refresh my memory and keep the herbs alive in my mind. 

i have toyed with the idea of going back to school and getting a nursing degree for the medical side of things. i’m just not sure i could stomach the strong conventional medical ‘wisdom’, especially when it comes to routine c-sections and medicating of patients for things such as high blood pressure, diabetes and the like without first trying to change the situation through diet. 

i have found going to herbal conferences such as the traditions in western herbalism and the southeast women’s herbal conference to be a great way to getting in some great herbal knowledge, connect with likeminded folks and deepen my understanding of herbs and herbal traditions. i plan to bring a tape recorder next year so i can record my classes as my notes just aren’t thorough enough. 

part of my downside to not being able to study enough are the distractions of the internet. i tend to hover near my computer all day because of my business and wanting to respond to people as soon as possible when they sign up for a subscription or have a problem or question. one of my goals for the next year is to be less tethered to the computer by allotting myself a time frame to get my work done on a scheduled basis and also creating time for daily study as well.

being patient! with my kids, my ability to only do and retain so much at a time and everything else that i must attend to in my life are big factors in this. 

another part of not studying enough is discipline. when gail says “You will need to be serious about attending to your studies. You will have to make time for them. This requires commitment. You may have to make some sacrifices.” she is right on the money. if i want to further my knowledge, i must make time. i must commit and be serious about studying on a daily basis. since i do not have a formal school i can attend, my willpower to focus on my self guided study, even through my coursework with kiva, must be self willed and committed. i am committing to 10 hours of study a week towards my herbal studies. ideally, i’d love to do 20 but i know with all my other commitments, 10 is all i can offer myself. however, this does not include all the study and research i do for writing herbal roots so i’m betting at a minimum i do 20 a week. 

Herbal Ally
posted on Tuesday, December 7th 2010 12:32 pm

(this is part 4.2 of a 10-part series, a life’s journey to become an herbalist observing gail faith edward’s article on the subject. you can find part 1part 2part 3 and part 4.1 here.)

gail’s second part of her fourth step in her ten-fold path is to find a herbal ally. she says:

“Pick a new plant each year to focus on. Be sure to grow the plant, or meet it in the wild, observe it, make different medicines and foods with it, use it in many ways, consume it regularly, or use as applicable as often as possible, and constantly observe. Noting all you observe. Keeping your own notes is critically important. Learn to meditate with plants. Learn to take care of them, learn to process and use them, one by one. Fall in love with each and every plant you work with, one by one. Recognize the living being there, the spirit of the plant. Respect its power. Open your wild heart to it.”

i have toyed with having herbal allies in the past but have never made it a year with one plant. at most, i’ve studied on intensively for 2-3 months. 

even though i haven’t had a year long dance with an herb, each month i have a month long dance with learning/relearning and immersing myself in one herb through my writings for herbal roots zine. i have learned that no matter how much i think i know about a plant before i start writing about it, as i refresh my memory with my favorite herbals and new herbals that cross my path, i discover something new that makes me run and grab a tincture or infusion or even a fresh cutting of the herb to study it some more. 

i hope to start a journey with a plant ally in january and go through the year with the selected herb. how does one select a plant as an ally? susun weed says this in her article you can have a green ally

Choose a plant that grows very near to you … no more than a one-minute walk from your door. You don’t need to know the name of the plant, or anything about it. You will be sitting with your plant every day, so, if possible, choose one that grows in a quiet and lovely place … in a pot on your balcony is just fine … in a park is great … so is an alley … or a backyard.

over the next few weeks, i plan to make a list of all the herbs i have growing around me, both cultivated in my herb gardens and growing wild in the wooded and open areas behind the pastures. from this list i’ll narrow it down to one herb even if i have to draw the name from a hat! the challenge for this is going to be that most everything around me is in the dormant stage due to winter so i’ll have to figure out alternatives to learning about it until it re-emerges in the spring. after reading an article by barbara hall, i discovered which herbal ally i should be studying this upcoming year. you can read all about my choice and get more ideas on how to choose your own herbal ally in my next article, finding a herbal ally

susun offers 6 different green ally exercises to get to know the ally more intimately so i will try to do as many of them as possible. here is a short summary of those exercises:

1. meditate/sit and breathe with my green ally for 3-10 minutes a day
2. make a detailed drawing of the ally as accurate as possible. next make a soft, impressionistic drawing
3. find out what parts of the ally are typically used. find out if other parts are useful. make oils, tinctures and vinegars of all the useful plant parts (separately)
4. observe the conditions the plant chooses to grow in. 
5. write a story from the point of view of my green ally. if i’m having trouble getting started, i’ll write a warm up page praising my green ally and telling him how much i like him and why
6. introduce a friend to my green ally. tell them all about my ally.

other exercises i plan to add to this list are:
*write a song about my green ally
*write poems about my green ally
*if edible, eat my green ally as often as possible
*try my ally in tea form

*start some seeds of my green ally so i can watch him grow from a seedling into full life

*fharvest my ally at all stages of growth
*sketch, draw, paint my ally at all stages of growth

all of this information will be kept in a blank journal that is dedicated to my green ally of the year. i’ll paste all my sketches, drawings, paintings in there along with my poems, stories, songs and discoveries of this plant. at the end of the year, i’ll have a complete book just about the one plant. 

once a month, i’ll post a update here to tell of my journey with the herb i’ve chosen.

i’m thinking this is a great exercise for anyone who wants to know herbs more intimately. my monthly zine is a great starter for getting kids thinking this way about an herb (and adults too). for those of us wanting to delve more deeply, a year’s journey is a great way to do it. if anyone is interested in joining in with me, let me know in the comments. if there’s enough interest, i’ll do another post about preparing for this journey, what you’ll need to get started and some guidelines to follow. then we can report back say once a month to update each other on how this journey is going. 

anyone want to come along for the journey?

Learn to open your wild heart, connect with your inner wild nature
posted on Sunday, December 5th 2010 12:30 pm

(this is part 4.1 of a 10-part series, a life’s journey to become an herbalist observing gail faith edward’s article on the subject. you can find part 1part 2 and part 3 here.)

gail’s first part of the fourth step in her ten-fold path is to open your wild heart and connect with your inner wild nature. she says:

It is this open, wild and compassionate heart that resonates with the wild heart of the earth, the wild heart of the plants. In order to work with plants, and people, intuitively you must be able to connect with them. Opening one’s wild heart clears communication pathways…words are unnecessary, communication is instantaneous. There becomes a knowing. This is different from what you read in books. This is the true body of knowledge, this is wisdom. It is accrued over many years of observation, study, practice and commitment. This knowing comes in moments of intuition, when many diverse facts converge into one coherent understanding. You enter this path to the degree that you are able to open your wild heart. Practice doing so every day.

part of connecting with my inner wild nature has been to let it become part of my outer nature. with so many feelings of depression, frustration and being deeply overwhelmed with everything in my life (there is such a thing as TOO much of a good thing…), i have lost part of who i am. the past 6 years have been an intense mix of emotions through becoming a mother again twice, leaving an outside job to pursue my dreams of being an herbalist and homesteader, homeschooling and starting a new business that i stumbled into by accident (but am oh so grateful of).  through all of it, i lost all sense of self. i was so busy doing all these things that i forgot about myself, my true self, my powerful self. the past few months i have allowed myself to be me and rediscover who this person is. i feel like i’ve been in a chrysalis and now i’m slowly emerging, keeping the best parts of my old self while adding on with new parts. 

for me, connecting to my inner wild nature has led me to become more primal. in my diet, i’m eating more primally: adding wild foods to my meals such as nettles, chickweed, dandelions and whatever else i can find in addition to eating more meat, especially wild meat when i can get it. i eat more meat at breakfast and as i’ve known this about myself for years, eating more meat protein makes me feel better physically. i’ve not made or eaten bread on a daily basis and the lack of bread in my diet has helped with how i feel as well. i’ve also taken a break from drinking alcohol and am grateful for doing so. it’s been over 10 weeks now and not feeling crappy when i wake in the morning or cloudy all evening long is wonderful. 

i’ve been drinking more infusions too. comfrey and nettles are my two favorites. i’m wishing i’d harvested more as i don’t think i have enough to see me through winter. these mineral rich infusions have nourished my wild heart and strengthened it over the past few months. 

in my physical appearance, i’ve become more wild too. my decision to dread my hair has been liberating. i love decorating my dreads with bling i’ve made from natural objects…bone, copper wire, shells and wood. i feel more like ayla with bits here and there. an occasional leaf, twig or blade of grass from outside adds to the wild nature.

i’m attracted to earrings made from natural elements…bone, stone and wood are my current favorites and i’m collecting animals bones to make more jewelry from (living on a farmette has definite advantages to being able to accumulate animal bones…). mice, voles, fox, raccoon, skunk and possum bones are all commonly found around here. chicken feathers are beautiful and vibrant and abundant as well. adding these elements to adorne me makes me feel more wild and alive.

i love tattered looking clothing and scour etsy for ideas to make clothing, using pieces i have that i’m tired of combined with a few new finds at thrift shops. 

but learning to open your wild heart and connect with your inner wild nature is more than just this. kiva rose’s herb energetics course is a great way for me to connect with the plants on this deeper level. i’m only about halfway through the course but everything i’ve learned so far has been a blessing in this aspect. 

being able to communicate with the plants, being able to understand them on a higher level is paramount to being an herbalist. plants speak to us but as jim mcdonald said at the traditions in western herbalism conference, for them to speak to us on a level we can understand, in a personified manner, while being highly spiritual for us, is a step down for them. we need to learn to speak with them on their level and understand their messages as they can best communicate with us, through our senses of taste, touch and smell. if we can learn to do that by opening our wild hearts, we have the key to understanding what any plant has to say to us, for better or worse. 

this step is something i have toyed with over the years but i am now only beginning to fully understand the necessity of it and learning to apply it to my daily life as an herbalist. connecting to the herbs through daily use, observation and intuition is the only way to fully connect with them. trusting my instincts, listening for them, paying attention to them is vital to a full understanding of the herbs and the medicine they have to offer. doing something i have been told to shut off for all these years is hard to do and probably one of the hardest steps in this journey. by starting with my physical self, i am slowly bringing my wild inner nature back alive and learning to open my wild heart and connect with the herbs on that higher level. 

become humus. humble yourself.
posted on Tuesday, November 30th 2010 12:30 pm

(this is part 3 of a 10-part series, a life’s journey to become an herbalist observing gail faith edward’s article on the subject. you can find part 1 and part 2 here.)

gail’s third step in her ten-fold path is to become humus and humble yourself. she says:

…Kneel on the earth, place yourself at the foot of the herbs, ask them for help. Tell them what you need. Do this day after day, month after month, year after year. Leave all your problems in the soil, they will be transformed, like everything else, by unseen soil microorganisms…

i can’t tell you how many times i have gone and just sat on the ground in my garden to think and be. or taken a walk back into the sassafras patch where the roses grow to just be. around here, it is extremely hard to get away from everyone and alone time is prime. sneaking off to the garden or woods is the easiest way to get this freedom. and while my main intent is for a bit of quietness in my head, the plants and earth always give me something more than i originally went searching for. hugging a tree or feeling my weight sink into the strength of the ground as the long blades of grass tickle my nose and scratch my back gives me such a feeling of peacefulness.

a slow walk through the herb garden is a respite as well. stopping to rub the leaves and breathe in the heady scent of sage or thyme or the valerian when she is in bloom. touching the herbs, tasting the herbs, smelling the herbs and seeing the herbs brings my senses alive and resets my mind when it desperately needs to chill out. through my senses they speak to me and tell me to leave my troubles with them. as i connect with them, i feel their energy come into my body through my hands, mouth and eyes. i feel lighter with each breath and more at peace with every taste. even the sting of a nettle is a welcome relief and as i go throughout my day, the gentle tingle that remains reminds me to leave my troubles in the garden.
being down at ground level is such an amazing perspective as well. while my troubles are dissolving, i discover beautiful mosses that are blooming, droplets of water on leaves and the infinite world of insects, animals and plants. beauty surrounds us but we’re too busy walking around up there to notice what’s going on down here.
for awhile this summer i was doing an experiment with laying down naked in our weed patch (we didn’t grow a garden and instead had a field of weeds that were waist high) as therapy for depression. a combination of the sun on my skin combined with the coolness from the earth was more therapeutic than any prescribed medication could ever be for me. feelings my worries and sorrows and frustrations leave me, if even just for the moment, was such a relief.
as the weather got colder, and i got busier, i neglected to do these daily time outs from my life and my frustrations and worries returned. now it’s cold and barren here and i’m not much for outdoors when temps drop below 50 but i plan to incorporate a daily walk into my routine to spend some time outside, even if it’s for 5 or 10 minutes. the earth is still there and the herbs are still there, waiting for me to bring my troubles to them, even in the stillness of the winter season.