5 Energizing ways to Revitalize your Health and Wellness practices with Rosemary Oil
Our ancestors knew the power of Rosemary to help with everything from Memory to to Massage to a little Mmmmm in the bedroom.
In a Nutshell:
A Little Rosemary Legend and Lore
Rosmarinus Officinalis has played a role in the human story since ancient times. Officinalis is a latin word that indicates that a plant is of medicinal use. Rosmarinus comes from the Latin for dew (ros) and of the sea (marinus), reflecting the origin story of Venus, the Goddess of Love. The myths tell that she was seeded from the stars when a phallic-looking object (apparently from Uranus) fell into her mothers womb, the Sea. Venus emerged fully formed from the waters, her neck draped with rosemary. It is a gorgeous image of feminine beauty, power and love, born of both the stars and the earth, beautifully captured by Sandro Botticelli in his painting, The Birth of Venus.
The common name rosemary comes from a legend that Mary, mother of Jesus, while fleeing from Egypt, sheltered one night next to a blossoming rosemary bush. When she threw her blue cape over the bush, its white flowers turned blue. Like the sacred woman she is associated with, Rosemary's energy is loving and soothing like that of a caring mother. It is subtle and fragrant, yet grounding and supportive.
But our love story with Rosemary does not end there. Its medicinal properties have benefited humans for centuries. In Ancient times, it was burned in spaces to clear the air of toxins, bacterial or spiritual. The Greeks hung rosemary bunches in study spaces to help scholars focus their minds for clear thought and inner vision. And legend has it that Rosemary oil was part of an immune system boosting blend that protected grave robbers from getting sick during the Plague.
Rosemary Essential Oil Health and Wellness Benefits
Back in the day, Rosemary was used to treat respiratory issues, melancholy, gout, epilepsy, arthritis, memory problems and nerves. It was also part of regular body maintenance, both inside and out. Thats a lot of awesome wellness in one plant!
Today, rosemary essential oil is used to boost the immune system and ease breathing; relax muscles and stimulate circulation; calm the mind and hone focus. It can help eliminate harmful bacteria and fungus, soothe an upset tummy, minimize a skin breakout, uplift mood and revitalize hair.
Now you have even more reasons to use Rosemary Essential Oil! But how will you put that precious elixir to use? Here are 5 suggestions for how you can put the benefits of your Rosemary essential oil into personal care rituals for yourself and your loved ones.
Diffuse Rosemary Essential Oil to Improve Memory and Focus
Rosemary is a strong cephalic essential oil, which means that it has properties that work on the head. Recent scientific studies show that Rosemary Oil can help improve memory, focus and concentration for students, as well as dementia patients. It can also reduce the level of harmful hormones released during stressful experiences.
Does your child have an exam to study for? Having trouble focusing on a project? Or a loved one experiencing short term memory loss? Try a few drops of your lovely rosemary oil in an aromatherapy diffuser. Place it in the room and let Rosemary work some of her magic.
Worried about stressing out in an exam or at work? You can also take Rosemary essential oil with you on the go in an aromatherapy inhaler or in aroma jewelry. No matter what stressful dragon you might be facing down, Rosemary has your back!
Make a Rosemary Massage Oil to Relieve Aches and Pains
Rosemary is fabulous for relaxing tight overworked muscles. Its anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain-relieving) properties work wonderfully on headaches, muscle soreness, rheumatism or arthritis. Its anti-bacterial, anti-fungal properties are knock out foot and armpit odour. And its stimulating properties put a little zing back into your blood flow. Get your Rosemary Essential oil to work by creating a multi-purpose massage oil that can be used to massage your aching head, sore body and tired feet.
To make the massage oil, choose an organic, skin-loving carrier oil - like almond, rice bran or sunflower. Next, dilute your Rosemary essential oil into your carrier oil. The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (USA) recommends using 2.5% to 10% essential oils in a massage oil formula. Your carrier oil will make up the rest. Combine both oils together in a bottle. Cap it, and gently shake it thoroughly to mix the ingredients.
Heat your Rosemary Massage oil just a little before using it by placing your bottle of oil into a mug of hot water. Thats an Ayurvedic massage trick, to improve oil absorbability and fluidity. Ayurvedic self-massage has been used for centuries to keep the lymphatic system flowing smoothly, while working on acupressure points and stimulating your nervous system. Your Rosemary Massage oil is perfect to use, as Rosemary will help stimulate muscles and nerves, provide pain relief as well as clear up that brain fog!
Use Rosemary as an Aphrodisiac
Rosemarys association with the Goddess of Love explains the traditions of employing Rosemary in matters of the heart. Back in the day, it was used to make love charms. Both bride and groom would wear it in ceremony as a symbol of their love and devotion to one another. It would be placed between the sheets on the wedding night as an aphrodisiac and to ensure fertility. And planted outside the house for protection. Thats a lot of Love blessings!
Today, Rosemary and Love still go together. Valued for its aphrodisiac properties, it has the ability to stimulate both mind and bodyâhelping you to be more present during love-making. Increased blood circulation heightens sensitivity to touch; a relaxed body can lean into an orgasm with some abandon; and a focused mind is more able to pay attention to physical and emotional needs in the bedroom,.
Arouse your partner with a sensual massage using your Rosemary Massage Oil. Diffuse some Rosemary essential oil in the bedroom. Let Rosemary carry you away to your bliss.
Use Rosemary to Zap Zits
Rosemary Essential Oil has astringent, anti-bacterial and anti-oxidant properties. That makes it particularly good at deflating the most angry of zits. You can make your own Zit Zapper Oil by pairing your Rosemary essential Oil with a lightweight, easily absorbed carrier oil that supports your skin sebum production while repairing ruptures. That gift from Nature is is Evening primrose Oil.
Put 30ml Evening Primrose oil in a dropper bottle. Add 10 drops of Rosemary Essential Oil. Cap the bottle and gently shake to thoroughly mix the ingredients together. At bedtime, complete your usual face care routine. Instead of using your regular moisturizer, apply your Zit Zapper oil blend. Place a drop or two of the oil on the affected skin area. Gently massage the oils into your skin. Leave the oils to work overnight while you sleep.
Condition and Strengthen your Hair with a Rosemary Essential Oil Treatment
I come from a long line of women with amazing hair. Truly! Even as I turn 60 this year, I have a full head of hair with some light silvering. The secret? Coconut oil and Castor Oil. Having an oil treatment was part of a weekly routine in my youth, one I still indulge in today.
Washing, brushing and styling your hair can cause damage, leaving it looking frizzy, broken, and dry. Coconut oil can help treat split ends; its anti-bacterial properties can fight dandruff causing fungals; and its cooling feel is calming to scalp itchiness. Castor oil strengthens the hair shaft, helps smooth the hair cuticle and adds shine. Add Rosemary Essential Oil to this magic mix and you get a scalp stimulant that studies show may help slow down hair loss and graying.
To make this lovely hair treatment, heat together 2 tsp Coconut Carrier Oil and 2 tsp Castor Oil in a small pan. When the oils are melted and blended, remove from heat and add 5 drops Rosemary Essential oil. Using your fingertips, massage the oil blend into your scalp. Leave it in for 30 minutes to an hour. Shampoo as usual.
I hope you feel inspired to include Rosemary Essential Oil in your daily self-care practices. How are you planning to use It? Please leave a comment and let us know!.
This Imbolc, take some time to connect with nature, let go of what no longer serves you, conserve your energy, and plant some seeds for the year to come.
The days are getting longer and on a sunny day, your heart swells inexplicably at the thought of the return of spring. That’s you tuning into the energies of Imbolc.
Imbolc kicks off the mid-season, halfway between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox here in the Northern Hemisphere. It does not quite feel like spring, yet we see the signs of Nature awakening—a bud, a sprout, a blossom at a time. In fact, the word Imbolc means in the belly of the Mother. There is a sense of anticipation in the air, as the days get longer and the temperature gets warmer. Nature’s Magic is literally in the air, full of potential for growth and transformation.
For millennia, ancestors all over the world celebrated this time of year with feast and ritual. They observed the sun and moon cycles, believing that this was a way to harmonize human activity with the cycles of Nature to ensure fertility, abundance and fruitful harvests. I think the these rituals and celebrations helped our ancestors align their lives and heart resonance with the cycles of Mother Earth and her heart beat.
The rituals of our ancestors differed in content and performance but there are similarities across cultures. Offerings were made to goddesses responsible for home and hearth, protection and fertility. Cleansing and purging rituals were done, setting the energetic tone for a fresh start in the Spring. Often these would involve fire, symbolic of the way fire purges the land to restore the soil. They opened the door to a clean slate, and new beginnings. Still more rituals celebrated the union of sacred masculine and feminine energies and the blessings of new life, while other rituals honoured the larger cycles of creation, preservation and destruction. The rituals helped focus intentions through this pregnant pause time, while embracing possibility, new hope and new life—Nature’s and their own.
There is a special kind of magic in this transitional period when you can sense the excitement of something coming into being. Maybe it is something you dreamed already; maybe it is something completely new. With the many demands of our daily schedules in the hustle and bustle of urban/sub-urban life, we can sometimes forget to notice the beauty of Nature’s quiet, slow, often subtle movements.
So what rituals and processes can we use now, in the 21st century to help us connect with the Earths current cycle? How can we focus our intentions to set into motion, ever so slowly, the dreams we dreamed for our year during the hibernation state of Winter?
1. Spend some Time Communing with Nature
Go for a wander in the woods or thorough the nearest park. While you’re walking, listen for the birds, watch them fly around with each other. Look for squirrels and watch them play. Look for evidence of new life coming in around you—a new shoot poking its head up from the soil, a bud forming on a tree. Take the time to allow wonder to bubble up inside you, as though you are discovering all this for the very first time. Allow yourself to experience this nature walk the way your inner child would have—with awe and wonder. Take a moment to express appreciation to the Earth for the beauty of this season. Take a beat to feel the connection of your heart to hers.
2. Let Go of What no Longer Serves You
Think of this as preparing your own soil for what you want to grow in yourself this year. It is a cleansing and purging of your mind, beliefs, programmed expectations, energetic field. If you find yourself in a rut or a comfort zone, this is your time to make a shift—not a whole sale overnight change, but a shift.
We are living through times of big changes in the world. There are going to be things within us—ways of thinking, behaving, reacting, organizing, caretaking, believing—that will not support these changes with ease and grace. The Imbolc season is a time for going within and finding what those obstacles are. They will most often look like fears of some sort—loss, security, the unknown. My favourite way to get through this part is through sitting with it, looking at it from every angle and journaling my observations and epiphanies. There is always something abstract brewing within you, a feeling or a sensation. It remains abstract until we sit with it, get to know it and name it.
Once you name the obstacle, think and feel about what you would like to replace it with, something that would support your process of change. The obstacle might be a belief or a story that you have invested in for many, many years that no longer serves you. Or it might be a habit that you go to in times of stress that is not actually supporting you.
Hold a compassionate space for yourself while letting go. It can be a difficult process sometimes. The key here is to take small steps, nothing too overwhelming. You are preparing your soil and putting in the mental, emotional, spiritual and physical nutrients you need to grow this year.
3. Build Your Inner Reserves and Resilience
Being able to conserve your energy and build resilience during times of transition is a super power. It is at the foundation of self care. It is also how we prevent burnout by refusing to take on more than we can handle and taking care of ourselves—physically, emotionally or spiritually.
Physically, this could look like getting enough sleep, supporting your wellbeing with nutritious foods, herbs and aromatherapy, and getting regular exercise. Emotional health care might look like not taking on too much drama, refusing to invest in limiting beliefs or stories fuelled by fear, quitting the judgement train, talking your feelings through with people you trust, laughing for no apparent reason and journaling. A practice of being in stillness, peace and gratitude definitely helps your spiritual health. It is how you can more consciously align your heartbeat to that of the Earth’s.
These are just some suggestions. You’ll know you’ve found the right thing when you feel expansive about it—literally the feeling of your heart opening in your chest. If you feel contractive, then this is not the right thing for you.
4. Plant Some Seeds
Studies show that planting more trees and plants will help slow the effects of climate change. Plants, like us, also resonate with the Earth’s heartbeat. In fact, when they are off beat, their ability to photosynthesize is affected. Planting plants is a way to solidify our connection to the Earth and our plant relations by participating with each other’s processes.
This is also time to plant seeds for what we want to create in our lives this year. Now is the time to start taking small steps towards actualizing the dreams we dreamed during the Winter Solstice season. The goals we set are not an end; they are the lighthouse or the guidepost for the journey we will take to get there. So the plans you make right now need not be huge or detailed. Just get the journey in motion, know that you are walking towards your dream, even though you don’t have all the information about it. Feel into the direction, as you go. Your True North will be your Why. If you find yourself at crossroads, choose your path, base it on a Why that is grounded in what is most loving and for your highest good.
So this Imbolc, take some time to connect with nature, let go of what no longer serves you and plant some seeds for the year to come. Enjoy your journey, your life safari!
The Power of Neem
The Neem Tree is a power plant with healing goodness for breakout-prone skin, dry, cracked heels, bug bites and stings!
From leaves to bark, Neem has been used for millenia for maintaining wellness, body healing, skin and hair care and for repelling insects. In the ancient Siddha system of medicine originating more than 10,000 years ago in the Tamil Nadu region of South India, Neem is among the core plants used. It met the Siddha medicinal goal of maintaining health for long life. All parts of neem tree were (and still are) used in traditional Indian medicine remedies for various human dis-eases.
The word NEEM comes from the Sanskrit, Nimba, meaning bestower of good health. As far back as 5000 BCE, Indian Ayurvedic texts have described the Neem tree and its remarkable healing properties. In fact healing compounds containing its leaves were found at the excavation of Mohanjo-Daro and Harappa, ancient city sites that date back to this time period and older.
Back in that day (to this day), a Neem tree was considered sacred, symbolizing good health and protection. One would be planted in public gathering spaces or in the front garden of the temple or the home where became part of daily life. Kind of like living among the Ent healers. The Neem tree provided shade from the sun while naturally repelling insects for those sitting under its protective canopy. When wind blew through the Neem tree and into the home, it was believed that the winds carried with them the anti-bacterial properties of the tree, keeping the homes free of bacteria while providing residents with a cool breeze in the summer months. Neem was also used to protect animals, food and grains. Livestock and cattle were fed Neem leaves for relief from ailments; soil was fertilized with seeds, leaves, and bark which all doubled as pesticides.
Used in medicinals, its properties strengthened health and boosted immunity. Infusions from leaf and bark would be drunk to help maintain blood sugar, clear lungs and keep the digestive tract running smoothly; neem twigs would be used oral care; young neem leaves were included in vegetarian curries; the gum from the tree was sucked on to ease a dry throat; and in the summer, the fruit of the tree would be eaten. All this Neem goodness worked together to strengthen the immune system.
Traditionally, Neem was used topically to address such ailments as fevers, respiratory issues, tetanus infections, rheumatism, arthritis, jaundice, malaria, ringworm, lice, fungal and bacterial infections of the skin, scabies, hives, eczema and psoriasis. And to help help hair grow and remain thick and lustrous. Historically, Neem Oil was even used as a topical contraceptive.
That is one versatile plant, right?
Why Neem is so Good for Your Skin
Neem oil is extracted from the seeds of neem tree fruit. Neem Plant Powders are basically dried and finely ground Neem Leaves. So, what is in Neem that makes it so amazing for skin? Both Oil and leaves have serious Anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, Anti-oxidant, Astringent, Oil Regulating and Moisturizing properties:
Free Lion Body Care Products That Feature Neem Oil
When I was formulating Face Chai for Oily and Breakout Prone Skin, I researched ingredients extensively, looking into their properties, lore and historical uses. With all its benefits to healing breakouts and acne scars and its ability to balance out sebum production, Neem just had to be a featured ingredient. It works beautifully with the other Oily Skin supporting ingredients in this formula. FYI, Neem Oil has a really strong smell. But worry not. I mixed in other skin supportive carrier oils and essential oils to compensate. Your nose will be happy! Your skin will be happier.
Facial Oils for Oily and Breakout Prone Skin
Our Facial Oils are a complex blend of lightweight oils specially chosen for their ability to soothe, protect, repair and regenerate healthy skin. I love Neem Oil for its anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, antioxidant properties. I am also excited by how these properties help kill the bacteria that gets into pores to cause the infections we know (and don't love) as "zits". Hello Neem, bye bye breakout.
Neem also does its part to stimulate skin cells to regenerate. it also helps heal acne scars and sooth acne irritation, while balancing out the sebum in your skin to reduce the chance of future break outs. Such a win win!
Neem has antioxidants that help protect your skin from environmental stressors. It moisturizes and helps keep skin soft and supple by boosting skin collagen and elastin production to increase thickness, elasticity and firmness. It also helps to reduce hyperpigmentation caused by UV radiation, hormones or acne.
The Facial Oils can be used daily as a moisturizer, for oil cleansing, for overnight moisturizing or The feedback from peeps in my test crew who used the Facial Oils for Oily Skin is that pimples and other skin eruptions disappear overnight. The oils are light and easily absorbed, leaving a lovely skin glow.
Mask Grains for Oily and Breakout Prone Skin
I have included Dried Neem leaf powder in this wonderful combination of plant powders and clays that blend up into a mask with a pump or two of Facial Oils plus some yogurt, honey or just plain old distilled water. It all depends on what your skin needs in the moment due to hormones, diet, stress. You know, LIFE.
Neem brings its anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties to work once more, to help kill the bacteria that could lead to zits, regulate your skin sebum production, and soften and protect it. The formula is quite robust with ingredients that are soothing, oil absorptive, cleansing, astringent and exfoliating.
Feedback from my testing crew included loving the way the Mask Grains soothed their skin, settled eruptions and gave a gentle exfoliation, leaving a lovely skin glow.
I included neem oil in this formulation for its moisturizing properties. I love its ability to deeply penetrate skin and repair heel cracks caused by dryness. It works with the other oils to soothe itchy, red, inflamed skin.
I also chose Neem Oil for its anti-bacterial properties. It teams up with Tea Tree Oil, which has some serious anti-bacterial properties of its own. By soothing skin irritation and eradicating the bacteria that causes them, Neem Oil and Tea Tree Oil can calm Athletes Foot and nail fungus. Then there is Neems ability to help ease joint inflammation, stiffness, and pain. Neem works with Rosemary Oil to help ease your feet into relaxation.
Shoo Fly! For a Little Help with Bug bites and Stings
Neem oil is one of many amazing ingredients in this formula that helps soothe bug bites and insect stings. Neem oil has an impressive, well-researched track record of not only being incredibly moisturizing for all skin types, but anti-inflammatory and soothing as well. Shoo Fly! Is full of ingredients like Neem oil that will take the itchy edge off a bug bite and help decrease swelling of even nasty ones, like wasp stings.
I had originally formulated Shoo Fly to help keep bugs away. The ingredients I chose do have properties that do that, naturally. But as a small biz maker, my products are classified as cosmetic by Health Canada. Bug repellent, however, is classified as a drug. So I am not able to make direct repellent claims about Shoo Fly! But I CAN tell you about Neem and itâs amazing properties. You can try it to soothe bug bites. And if it keeps bugs away, well BONUS!!
Nature is full of wise plants who work with us to support our health and wellness. Thanks for hanging out with Neem and me,
Lessons from the Trees
On Mindful Meditation, Journaling and letting go
Fall is the season for learning how to let go. And the trees are our teachers. As we come out of the summer and into the fall in the Northern Hemisphere, plant life gradually dies away and becomes dormant. The dead matter folds back into the soil and provides nutrition for seeds yet to be planted. It’s all preparation for coming back to life in the spring. We humans are also a part of this yearly cycle of life, death and rebirth. But what does it mean for us?
In the fall, the trees give us the most amazing colour show as they gracefully let go of the leaves they have outgrown. When it’s time to let go of a leaf, they simply LET GO. There’s no fight, no doubt, no struggle. It just simply IS, an inarguable truth. Leaf’s dead. Time to let it go so that it can be recycled into the soil to feed future growth.
Letting go is our work this season, too. In order to make space for rich new growth experiences in our own lives, we, like the trees, have to let go of what no longer serves us. This could be people, habits, limiting beliefs, a job that no longer fits, clothes that no longer fit. The list goes on and it is as individual as you are.
How do we know what our dead leaves are, what we need to let go?
Identifying your Dead Leaves with Mindful Meditation
Ever thought you might have to Mari Kondo your inner world? Yeah, me neither. But it’s actually a useful approach, believe it or not. It is about identifying that within your life that sparks little or no joy. And these feelings point to or actually ARE your dead leaves.
Your first step is to identify them. No need for any big moves. Remember that a leaf dies slowly, turning from green to gold or red. The tree has time to prepare to let go of the leaf. It stores its energy for the winter, hibernating and resting in readiness for spring’s growth.
Here’s where mindful meditation comes in. According to Mindful.org, “the goal of mindfulness is to wake up to the inner workings of our mental, emotional and physical processes.” Meditation is a way to explore, venturing into the inner workings of your being as expressed through physical sensations, emotional reactions and random thoughts. “…Your head doesn’t become vacuumed free of thought…it’s a special place where each and every moment becomes momentous” Mindful meditation, then is a practice of being present within yourself, and observing each of those moments, without judgment and with curiosity, warmth and kindness.
The steps are easy and gentle, as described on Mindful's website.
Mindful meditation allows you to become like the tree. A tree does not judge itself for letting go of its leaves. Nor does it beat itself to a pulp with guilt and shame for shedding. It just does what it must do to take care of itself so that it can continue to grow and do its part in its ecosystem.
Mindful meditation, when practiced with consistency, has the potential to rewire your thought, feeling, behavioural patterns--and your brain. It allows you to be present in any situation, observing your own inner reactions and discerning what is working for you and what is not. It gives you space to observe your belief systems so that you can review and revise as needed. And it helps you connect with the sacred in yourself, so that you can plant the seeds of your hopes and dreams, and then nourish them lovingly into being.
Journaling it Out, One Dead Leaf at a Time
Once you have come out of your mindful meditation, give yourself an extra 10 minutes. Set an intention to identify that which no longer serves in your life--the dying leaves. Pull out your journal and write the first things that come to your mind. Don’t judge them. Notice what emotions you are feeling about each list item. Write these emotions down. What sparks joy? What doesn't? Notice any body sensations that come up in response to your intention. Write these down. If anything more comes up—random thoughts, feelings, ideas, write them down. Don't judge them or analyze yet. Now get on with your day.
Keep adding to your list of observations. Over time, you'll begin to notice connections and patterns. You'll begin to understand what your being is saying to you through thought, emotion and body sensations. You'll be able to determine what relationships, beliefs, situations or stuff is sparking joy, working for you, supporting you to be the best you can be. And you'll be able to see which ones don't. That's your official Dead Leaf List.
Again, like the tree, don't rush into anything. give yourself time to determine the best course of action. Use your tools--mindful meditation and journaling--to break it down for yourself, in terms of thought, emotion and sensation. When you think about how to end a friendship, say, or draw boundaries around it, observe your thoughts, emotions and body sensations. Use the same techniques as you did to identify the Dead Leaves to find a way through for yourself that feels calm and even. Remember to be kind, loving and as non-judgemental with yourself as possible. Guilt and shame have no place in your healthy ecosystem.
These tools really helped me through some of my darkest times. Mindful Meditation allowed me to explore my inner world, one thought, feeling and body sensation at a time, without judging or drowning in shame and guilt. It allowed me to discern which thoughts were coming from the voices or experiences in my past and which ones were truly my own voice; which ones made me feel light and buoyant and which ones sunk me like a stone; and which ones led to feelings of joy and happiness.
Journaling allowed me to figure out the thought, emotion and action patterns I had developed as coping mechanisms in joyless situations. It also allowed me to discover and honour my inner treasures, parts of my being that I felt good and sparkly about. And it gave me, literally, a blank page on which to visualize the reality I wanted to experience. This is still a work in progress. Not because these tools don't work but because Life doesn't stop until you do. It is is simply an unfolding process that does not stop delivering learning moments and opportunities to refine your experience until you are driving mostly in the JOY lane.
So This fall, take some time out for yourself to go on a profound inner journey. Uncover what is ready to die away in your life, and let it go. Fully embrace your uniqueness and be the fullest, most authentic best you can be.
Lavender tea's delicate, aromatic flavour drifts you to a good night's sleep. Here's why + a sleepy time tea recipe
We love our lavender, don't we? It's one of the most loved fragrances in the world, known for its restful calming effects, making it an essential in a sleepy time tea. Move over chamomile, make room for lavender!
Lavender tea is made from the fresh or dried buds of the Lavender flower, Lavendula angustifolia. Originating in the Mediterranean, it is now cultivated all over the world, including in my garden! Lavender brings a distinctive flavour and aromatic fragrance to foods. My son, Javid, flavours the most delicious ice creams with it; his gal Bri likes to flavour cakes and icing with it; and we make a simple syrup to add to drinks. Gin and lavender tonics anyone? I also use Lavender in my body care products for its calming scent and capacity to maintain clear skin complexioned boost cellular health. And I use it in a tea blend I make for a relaxed night's sleep. Between care taking of Thom and the garden, running all things Free Lion and being there for my boyz-to-men as required, I find getting a solid sleep can make all the difference to my day ahead.
But let's get back to talking tea. Lavender is a herb and a member of the mint, oregano and rosemary family. So it comes by its health benefits honestly. But what can a lavender tea do for you?
1. Improve Sleep
Lavender induces calm. Its relaxing effects can help improve sleep and be used to help you get there. According to Health Canada, Canadians are not getting enough sleep. 1 in 2 adults have trouble going to sleep or staying asleep; 1 in 5 adults do not find their sleep refreshing; and 1 in 3 adults are having trouble staying awake during the day. Health Canada puts this trend down to sedentary lifestyles and chronic stress. Not a surprise, given everything we're having to deal with these days. Enter Lavender Tea!
Drinking Lavender tea before bed can help you achieve a more restful sleep. According to a sleep study in Taiwan conducted with women post partum, Lavender tea helped participants' sleep quality improve. They also reported decreased depression symptoms and were able to be more present with their infants for better bonding. In another study of lavender and the nervous system, lavender taken orally, inhaled or massaged into the skin was found to decrease anxiety and improve mood levels. Yet another study conducted by psychologists at Wesleyan University with 31 men and women found that lavender increased slow-wave sleep, instrumental for slowing heartbeat and relaxing muscles. Participants slept more soundly with lavender than without. They also reported feeling more energetic in the morning.
2. Preventative Holistic Health
Western medicine is an allopathic system. That means it treats symptoms and not the whole person. Its goal is to eradicate, mend and repair, which is brilliant when you have a condition that will benefit from such treatment. The holistic approach is more about prevention, a philosophy that underpins many "Alternative" medical approaches.
Lavender tea fits in here perfectly. It can be taken as a preventative measure, to maintain balance in your body, delivering many desired health effects. Lavender tea is full of antioxidants to help you eliminate those pesky toxins from your system, working to prevent them from wreaking havoc on human cells through mutation, degradation or oxidative stress.
Lavender tea contains high amounts of antioxidants and antibacterial compounds (like Vitamin C, calcium and magnesium) that can help boost your immune system against colds, bacterial, fungal and viral infections. It has properties that can reduce inflammation which, in turn can help prevent a host of eventually serious ailments like heart issues or arthritis. Its antispasmodic properties can also help with joint pain while helping to minimize muscle spasms. The same can be really helpful with menstrual cramps.
Lavender tea can also help soothe digestive issues like nausea or diarrhea or indigestion. More importantly, it can help stimulate production of bile while will help your body break down foods more effectively. It can also help open up chest airways, making it easier to breathe. That's the added bonus of smelling your lavender tea between sips.
Lavender Borage Sleepy Tea
This calming warm tea is just the thing to help you unwind. The best time to drink a sleep tea is 30 minutes before crash time.
You can infuse the flowers into water. Or for an extra pre-bedtime sleep kick, infuse the flowers into the milk of your choice. Dairy milk and almond milk both contain tryptophan which increases serotonin, the precursor to the sleep regulating hormone, melatonin. I've honey as a sweetener but also because it helps release melatonin in your brain. You can replace honey with another sweetener for a vegan option.
You can have your lavender tea straight up, no chaser. Or you can blend it with other plants that promote relaxation and calm. For this recipe, I have included Borage flowers, a calming, cleansing staple in the Persian diet, for its relaxation and stress relieving properties.
1 cup of water, milk or almond milk
1 tsp dried borage flowers
1 tsp dried lavender flowers
1 tsp honey or stevia
1. Place the water, milk or almond milk into a small saucepan on medium heat. Heat to very hot, not a roaring boil.
2. Add the dried lavender buds and dried borage flowers to the saucepan
3. Allow to steep for 5 or 6 minutes.
4. Pour into a mug through a strainer
5. Add honey or sweetener of your choice.
6. Drink. Rest. Reset. Relax. Nite Nite!
Disclaimer: I'm not a doctor. The information I have provided about herbs and sleep are from my own research experience. I encourage you to find your own answers for what works best for you and your body.
Imbolc: the pregnant Pause
Just like nature is beginning to awaken after its dormant period, we too are re-awakening with new dreams and plans for our lives. Here are 3 important tools to help you nourish your soul/soil
February 1st and 2nd mark Imbolc, the mid-point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. It is a celebration of the first first stirrings of new life, the earliest signs of Spring, in the northern hemisphere, even though there might still be snow on the ground or freezing cold outside. It’s significance to the human experience is the very earliest hints of spring rising in our spirits. After months of turning inward, of hibernation and rest, life is beginning to stir again.
From what I understand, Imbolc is a celebration not only of this moment in the earth’s annual cycle, it is a celebration of the same in ourselves. It is a moment when we honour and nurture our own capacity to bring something to life in ourselves and our own experience. Just like nature is beginning to awaken after its dormant period, we too are re-awakening with new dreams and plans for our lives.
Sounds fantastical? Perhaps. Or perhaps it is just the way things are supposed to be, a way of being that is in alignment with the Earth herself, a way made superfluous by a 9-5 way of thinking and being. But let's set aside that and go with the lessons of Mother Earth here for a minute. Let your spirit begin to stretch and shake off the restful sleep of winter. For with this awakening comes a much needed clearing.
When those lovely spring flowers start poking their heads up through the dirt, it’s time to clear the ground and cut back dead growth in the garden before new growth starts sprouting. The same kind of care is needed in our internal gardens, to clear out internal clutter and the things that died within us during the winter, in preparation for exciting new growth to come. Winter is a time of turning inward and descending into ourselves, identifying the things within that we were ready to let go of, be they thought patterns, behaviour habits or limiting beliefs. It is also the time of dreaming what we see for ourselves, what we would like to experience.
Imbolc marks the time to really let go of all those things, for once and for all, and embrace transition and change in real, lived ways. It’s a time to leave your comfort zone in order to grow more fully into yourself by creating the kind of experiences that will take you there. Sounds kind of exciting and pregnant with possibilities, right?
Yet it is also really, really hard. Because while we love the idea of change, humans are also creatures of habit who like the safe and comfortable. Real change, letting go of things that no longer serve us and stepping into new ways of being and doing can be a long and daunting process. And that can feel super uncomfortable.
Nature shows us that everything has a time and a reason. Think of Imbolc as a time of facing challenges, of taking your own measure. Do you have the strength required to make lasting changes? Can you leave what is safe to grow more fully into yourself? Can you breathe life into your winter dreaming? And how can you set yourself up for success?
This is where tools come in to help you clear out what no longer serves, nourish your soul and lay the initial seeds of what you want to bring into your life this year. I’m sharing with you the ones that I am using at this time. Hopefully, they will be of use to you in some way.
1. Ho'oponopono - Getting Things Back into Balance
I use this meditation frequently. Ho'oponopono has its roots in Hawaiian culture; it’s intention is to maintain and sustain equilibrium in chaotic circumstances. Roughly translated, the word ho’oponopono means, “cause things to move back in balance” or to “make things right.” It is an ancient spiritual practice that involves learning to heal all things by accepting that we are all connected and so hold responsibility for everything that surrounds us. Responsibility. Not fault. It's a subtle but important difference. While we may create or invoke a certain kind of experience, it is usually for the purposes of learning. We are not victims in some kind of cause and effect blame game.
Within this framework, none of us are powerless or helpless, something I really appreciate. It acknowledges that we are each a contributing part of a whole. When there is disturbance in the force of the Whole, the ho'oponopono meditation is a graceful, loving way of restoring the balance for everyone involved. In short, you are calling the spirit of universal love to heal in you that which is creating the discordant outer circumstance you may be experiencing.
The meditation itself is a repeated mantra or set of words potent with intention. These are: I am sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you. Spoken in succession, the meditation becomes is a way of declaring a willingness to take responsibility for our thoughts and actions and express regret for any harm caused; to forgive oneself and others, asking the same in return; to live and walk in gratitude and appreciation; and to acknowledge the juice that makes the universe run–LOVE-- flows through each of us, holding us in Oneness.
I do the meditation whenever I feel out of balance, when I'm feeling fear or anxiety or anger. It helps level out those feelings of fear, doubt, anxiety. It brings me back to what really matters to me–personal responsibility, heart-mind coherence and choosing from Love. I also do it when I'm feeling relaxed and calm, like when I am falling asleep. There's never a bad time for some balance healing.
2. The Gratitude List - What nourishes your Soul/soil
If the Ho'oponopono meditation sets the overall energy framework for sustaining and maintaining equilibrium, the gratitude list lets you know what awesome foundational things are in your life inventory that are currently nourishing your soul. The very fact that you are grateful for these things tells you are being nourished by them. And your soul nourished is the soil in which you plant the seeds for what you’d like to create in your life this year.
Your gratitude list doesn’t have to be stellar or metaphysical. It just has to simply be populated by things that make you feel good, happy, joyful, peaceful, loved; that give a sense of meaning and belonging, that make your heart glow or skip a beat or two in sheer excitement. In reflecting back on my own list, I see that I have in my life an abundance of love, meaningful relationships and work, and a sense of purpose. This is my soul nourished and feeling truly blessed.
3. The Experiences List - Sowing the Seeds
This is a list of what you want to call in for the year to grow and evolve. It's not really a list of stuff (not just yet anyway--that will come later in the year) Rather, it is a list of the experiences you want to have that will support, encourage and facilitate that growth. For this list, give yourself some time to feel into a number of things in your life. Feel it from a place of love, not fear. You might, say, be really grateful for the family and friends in your life. And you would like to grow your relationship with them. So on this list, you might add, "Fun" as an experience you want more of with them. List item complete. It's an experience that is heart-centred rather than fear-centred.
But what do you do for things that bring up a lot of fear? Even though it can scare the crap out of us, Fear is not an enemy, really. It's a natural part of us that raises a red flag around an experience we no longer wish to have. So, for example, you might be feeling a little financially pinched right now, an experience that commonly holds fear and worry. It might be tempting to just add, "money" to the list, as the overall solution. "I want to experience having money or not worrying about money," takes the issue of finances into the experience realm. It's almost ready for your list. You know what do you don't want to experience, but what DO you want to experience? How can you shift perspective on that you can transform " worry" into a more love-centred experience?
Before you write anything down, feel into your financial fears. Notice any body sensations that come up. Is your heart clenching? Your stomach churning? These sensations are your body letting you know it is NOT enjoying this experience. It's in survival mode, as we all are in the face of a fear. We've been trained to swallow it down and white knuckle it through these fear experiences. Or to avoid them altogether. What if there was a kinder, gentler way? There is, and we all knew how to do it when we were children, before the world broke our spirits so that we'd fit, belong and obey.
So let's go back to finances. We know what it feels like when we are scared about money, worried about lack. Now, let's try to feel finances from a more abundant, loving place. What would it feel like to have no worries about money, that you had everything you needed (need, not want)? Imagine what that would experience be like? Bring your mind (thoughts) and heart (feelings) into coherence, working together to create that experience in this moment now. Think about all the aspects of the experience that would feel so wonderful, all the things you might do, the relief you might feel, the joy you might feel. Feel the experience as though you’re having it right now, in this moment. Notice any sensations your body might be having in response. Don't judge what you're imagining or yourself for imagining it. It's your dream. Enjoy it.
And that experience you just generated? That's the intention seed you just planted. In it was not "money". It was the experience of relief, joy, fun, pleasure and anything else that came up for you while you were dreaming. Add these experiences to the list.
While it may not solve immediate financial problems, it is a way to shift your perspective on finances from fear to love. You can use the same process for anything else you would like to experience in your life this year. The fears will come up, they never really go away. But they can become more diminished in your personal operating system. And anytime you feel out of balance, go back to the Ho'oponopono meditation.
I hope we are all able to embrace this time of new beginnings and change, as this is how our spirits grow and evolve, especially when we push out from our comfort zones. Here’s wishing you the brightest of Imbolc blessings. I hope all our winter dreams come to life this year, taking us to the most exciting, empowered and balanced places.
Body Butters Deliver deeply nourishing, natural, protective care to your skin. It's a must-have in your skin care routine.
We love Body Butters with an almost embarrassing passion! Why? For their amazing ability to keep your skin and skin biome nourished and protected, especially during the coldest months of the year.
Our Body butters are an oil-based, cream-like product designed to moisturize and hydrate skin, while giving it a protection barrier from the elements. Not to mention they smell wonderful! Fear not, those of you who are scent sensitive. We also make an Unscented version. And you don’t need much to enjoy their benefits--a little goes a long way.
The Benefits of Body Butter
1. Natural ingredients
This one is a huge benefit because natural ingredients deliver everything your skin everything it needs to stay healthy and safe without killing your skin biome. The skin biome, like the gut biome, is an ecosystem composed of diverse, helpful microorganisms that live symbiotically with us. While our skin provides them with a buffet to feed on, they protect us from harmful organisms. Research shows that the organisms in our skin biome might also have a role in educating T cells found in the skin, priming them to respond to similarly marked pathogenic organisms. Think of them as an early warning and training system. Basically, we need our skin biome to be happy and healthy for the overall wellness of both of us. Natural ingredients do just that.
2. Deep Nourishment
Made primarily with plant butters and oils, Body Butters are packed with essential fats, minerals and vitamins, providing rich, deep skin conditioning. They provide more intense nourishment than Body Lotions. We make ours with Shea Butter, Sunflower Oil, Rice Bran Oil and Avocado Oil. This skin love comes from the essential fatty acids, minerals and vitamins naturally found in its plant ingredient list. You can use Body Butters all over your body or focus their use on usually drier parts of the body--elbows, knees, feet.
3. Barrier Protection
The plant butters and oils, in combination with Bees wax, help form a protective layer over your skin. They lock in moisture, and protect your skin from dirt, debris and other compounds in the environment that can stress your skin out. If you are a swimmer, for example, Body butter provides a thin, waterproof barrier that can help protect your skin from the ravages of chlorine in the pool; or salt in the sea.
4. Keeping it youthful
Vitamins E and A are plentiful in our Body Butters, as well as essential fatty acids, minerals and antioxidants. These help keep your skin soft and supple. Shea butter also contains oliec and stearic acid that work to help boost collagen production, keeping skin elasticity, texture and composition alive and well.
5. Soothes Irritation
Body Butter has a unique ability to restore pH balance to your skin. It’s ability to melt and absorb quickly into skin helps soothe skin irritations. We’ve gone one further step and added Aloe Vera extract to boost skin soothing power.
6. Seasonal Protection
You know how winter can be on the skin. The cold, dryness can suck the moisture right out of it. Here’s where Body Butters SHINE in skin care benefit land. It’s triple properties of deep moisturizing, skin soothing and barrier protection replenish, revitalize and protect skin from the elements.
7. Things to Watch Out For
All of that lovely benefit said, there are some things to watch out for, Body butter is anhydrous--that means it moisturizes but doesn’t hydrate. You need water based ingredients for that. So, if you are experiencing dry skin due to lack of hydration, then our Body Lotion might work better for you.
If you have oily body skin or conditions like body acne, Body Butters may be overkill. That amazing protective barrier means that oils can get locked in and cause breakouts.
My Favourite Body Butter Ways
Body Butters are actually quite multipurpose, You can use them for a few different moisturizing needs. Here are some suggestions, based on how I use them in my own skin care routine:
One of my favourite times to use body butter is after a shower. After a shower, your skin is warm, which helps in the application and absorption of the butters and oils in Body Butter. Also, your pores are also open to receive its moisturizing and barrier seal.
To use our Body butter, put a dime’s worth in the palm of your hand. Rub both hands together until the butter melts. This should be enough to do both arms or both legs. Remember, you’re going for a thin layer of butter that your skin can absorb quickly.
Gently massage the Body Butter into your skin. Take some time to enjoy that self-massage. In fact, treat it like a ritual to show your body the love it deserves, something you really look forward to doing.
For dry skin on your hands and feet, you can use Body Butter as a deep moisturizing treatment. I’ve found this helps when I’m having eczema flare ups, which occur primarily on my hands. Try this 2-3 times a week for softer, soothed skin.
Take a pea sized amount of Body Butter into the palm of your hand. Rub your hands together until the butter is melted. Massage into your hands. Put on some cotton gloves and go to sleep. This gives the butter and oils time to work their magic. Start with the same amount for your feet. Use more as needed. Massage the butter into your feet, especially the dry, hard bits. Put on some cotton socks and hop under the covers.
If you Hair mask
Back in the day, my mum would apply coconut oil to our hair once a week to condition and nourish our hair ad scalp. I really looked forward to this weekend ritual because i really enjoyed the feeling of my mum's hands massaging my head. I would close my eyes and drift away.
These days I do the same ritual for myself using Body Butter. I've found it is actually brilliant for my hair, especially the fly-aways and dry ends. It helps smooth them out and replenish moisture. I like using it in my hair once a week as a mask treatment, just like mum did.
To apply a Body Butter Mask to your hair, take a small amount of body butter into your palm. Rub your palms together to melt the butter. Then apply it to the ends of your hair, not the roots--that will make your hair greasy. Let it sit for 10 minutes or more. Wash the butter out with warm water and/or a VERY light shampoo. Style as usual.
Why do you like using body butters? What are your favourite ways to use it?
The Benefits of Plant powders
Nature's way to gently remove dirt and toxins for a glowing, clear complexion. Learn how to add them into your Skin care routine
I love a good facial exfoliation! I really enjoy this part of my skin care rituals for its massaging moves, and the almost instant payoff of skin that feels soft and smooth, refreshed and reset.
Plant powders are my go-to for facial exfoliation. They are straight out of my grandmothers’ beauty playbook and I have been using them since childhood. I love them for their ability to gently remove dirt and toxins for a glowing, clear complexion. Using natural ingredients, like plant powders, gives you all that without destroying your skin biome. Win-win, right?
Your skin is in a constant state of cell turnover: As new skin cells are made, the older skin cells rise to the surface, dying in the process. Over time, the surface of your skin becomes host to a buildup of dead cells on the skin’s surface. Add pollution and other forms of environmental stressors to the mix, and-- hello, dull, rough and itchy skin.
That’s where plant powders augmented with plant oils can really bring some beneficial goodness to your skin and its biome. Here’s why plant powders are a brilliant ingredient to add to your skin care routine.
1. Plant Powders are Gentle on the Skin
When mixed with water (ideally distilled) and a few drops of plant oils, plant powders transform into a luxurious paste that draws out toxins and smooths the skin. They are incredibly gentle on the skin, exfoliating without scratching. No extra pressure is needed -- the granules will do the work. The massaging action you bring helps promote circulation and skin cell turnover.
2. PLANT POWDERS CONTAIN MUCH NEEDED SKIN NUTRITION
Plant powders are high in minerals and naturally derived proteins, vitamins and acids, all of which help draw out toxins, enhance skin cell health and provide additional exfoliation by dissolving dead skin cells.
3. YOU CAN CUSTOMIZE PLANT POWDERS TO WHAT YOUR SKIN NEEDS AT THIS MOMENT
Depending on the day, season or your skin type, you can customize your plant powder paste to suit your skin’s needs. If you want more of a mask feel, use less water. If you want more of a general soft cleanser, use more water. If you need more moisturizing, add a few drops of oil to your blend. If you are having breakouts or skin irritation, add yogurt. If you need more antioxidants, add lemon juice. If you need to even out your skin tone and bring down inflammation, add turmeric. The possibilities are endless.
4. PLANT POWDERS HAVE A LONG SHELF LIFE, NO UNNEEDED PRESERVATIVES AND ARE TRAVEL FRIENDLY
Plant powders have a long shelf life. They don’t need preservatives, as they are not pre-mixed with liquids. You mix them up fresh, every time you use them. And because they are liquid-free, they can be carried while traveling with no fuss. Your face care will be there with you, where ever your destination.
HOW TO USE PLANT POWDERS IN YOUR SKIN CARE ROUTINE
Now that you know the overall benefits of using a plant powder to your skin, here is how to use them as a gentle cleanser:
Flower Power, part one
The psychology of flowers and why they make us so happy
These days, as our lives go through ups and downs due to the changes we are living through, more self care is called for. We may need more exercise, a healthier diet or more sleep. We might find peace in moments wandering through nature or in meditative quiet time. And we might receive a much needed emotional lift from Flower Power.
In 2005, the Department of Psychology at Rutgers University conducted a 10 month behavioural study, looking for links between flowers and life-satisfaction. They found that “Flowers have immediate and long-term effects on emotional reactions, mood, social behaviors and even memory for both males and females.”
“What’s most exciting about this study is that it challenges established scientific beliefs about how people can manage their day-to-day moods in a healthy and natural way,” said Jeannette Haviland-Jones, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology and lead researcher on the study.
In the study, subjects received deliveries of flowers and other gifts such as fruit, candles and pens. While most deliveries of gifts received a positive response, the highest response rates came from receiving flowers. The studies showed that these positive responses lasted two to three days.
But honestly, we didn’t need a scientific study to tell us what our bodies intuitively know (though confirmation is sometimes nice). According to the Rutger’s study, the presence of flowers:
Why do Flowers Make Us Happy?
Flowers are connected to the release of some seriously happy-forming hormones in our systems.
Dopamine, the feel-good neurochemical, helps regulate movement, learning, motivation, attention and emotional responses. It is released by the expectation of a reward. Flowers, back in the day, were a huge reward signal in our brains because they promised abundance after a hungry winter. While we may not link flowers so directly with food anymore, flowers can still trigger that sense of anticipated excitement.
Oxytocin is a neuro-chemical often called the “love hormone”. It creates feelings of social trust from mother-infant bonding, to romantic connection to group cohesion and belonging. These bonds are crucial not only to our survival as a species but also to our capacity to thrive and grow. When we give each other flowers, oxytocin is released. Flowers then serve as talismans, communicating the strength of our bonds, and our intention to invest in caring for the relationships that form them. Because of the evolutionary connection of flowers to physical survival, we are also underlining the importance of social connection to our well-being.
And then there’s serotonin, the neuro-chemical crucial to mood, well-being, happiness and our spiritual lives. Scientists have found that serotonin receptor activity in the brain correlates with a capacity for transcendence or bliss. From the lotus to the rose, lowers have long been associated with spiritual paths since ancient times. It is both the colour of the flowers AND their scent that trigger serotonin and lift the Spirit.
That brings us to the Chromotherapy and Aromatherapy. That’s part 2 of this blog post. Stay tuned. But in the meantime, here's a lovely bouquet to help your happy.
Happy Solar New year, Hello Spring!
Reflections on the past year; reality check from Krista Tippett in conversation with clinical psychologist Christine Runyard; and imagining a future based on cooperation and care
Happy Vernal Equinox, 2021 everyone. In my culture, this is actually New Years Day, called Navroz. Traditionally, it’s a time for communal feasting, dancing and letting go of all the unnecessary and dark while calling in light, peace and prosperity for the new year. And Dancing...did I mention dancing? This year’s Navroz has gone slightly differently than in the past. All the feasting, dancing, letting go and calling in has been more contained, more personal “bubble” sized. Such is our current reality.
The other day I was reflecting on the past year and the pandemic situation, with my friend and artist, Norma Jean McCallan. One of her observations was that this year has felt like tiptoeing around an abusive relationship. In such a situation, we are in fight or flight and survival mode, rolling from one crisis to another until such time as we have a moment of relief to process, and make choices as to how we want to proceed.
One of those moments came for me in January of this year. While my head recognized that “normal” is not something I can (or want to) return to, the rest of me needed some time to catch up. I disappeared into a bit of Cave Time to deal with the depression feelings that seemed to overtake me after the holiday season. My physical energy was low, I slept a lot and tried to focus on facing the fears with some heart tools - like appreciation, grounding breath work and visualization.
It was more challenging than I thought it would be. Then last week I came across an interview with clinical psychologist Christine Runyan on Krista Tippett’s On Being podcast. Here’s the blurb that introduces the interview.
“The light at the end of the COVID tunnel is tenuously appearing — yet many of us feel as exhausted as at any time in the past year. Memory problems; short fuses; fractured productivity; sudden drops into despair. We’re at once excited and unnerved by the prospect of life opening up again. Clinical psychologist Christine Runyan explains the physiological effects of a year of pandemic and social isolation — what’s happened at the level of stress response and nervous system, the literal mind-body connection. And she offers simple strategies to regain our fullest capacities for the world ahead.”
Christine Runyan put words to what many of us around the globe have been feeling this past year. Her coping strategies are simple yet effective. It was a valuable hour spent. I realized that I use many of these strategies already, but it was really necessary for me to have them confirmed and validated. Equally important was the confirmation that I’m not crazy or alone in this experience. Naming it, talking about it and doing the work to come back to a grounded, balanced center, are crucial to moving forward.
It all comes down to the story we tell (meaning believe) about ourselves, each other, our world and our place in it. When I was at school, Science taught us a story about the earth and the relationships between all living beings. It was essentially that the earth is based on competition, the survival of the fittest, a win-lose story. If you think about it, this is the story upon which our world, our economies and our lifestyles have been crafted in the past few millennia. But we are seeing that story crumble around us as our impact on the Earth has exacerbated the climate; as our economies are slowly failing, as the nation state system created by conflict slowly falls apart.
Science is revising its approach. It is now saying that the earth and the relationships between all living things is cooperative. In this model, one that aboriginal peoples all over the world have known for millennia, we all survive, thrive and evolve when we cooperate and work together. Its a part of Nature, right down to our very cells. According to evolutionary biologists, without cooperation we wouldn’t be here.
It's easy to see how we might flourish in such an environment. The stresses we experience of survival and isolation just wouldn't be a thing. Within a cooperation model of human organization, our individual talents and gifts would have more chances to be expressed and flourish. See it as a group of intersecting circles, as in the Flower of Life design, as opposed to a pyramid scheme model. In the pyramid model, there is only one peak, one “best” of anything. But in the intersecting circles model, there would be more opportunities for sharing and collaborating. Every circle, or community, would have a possible place for your specific talents and gifts and many places and opportunities to be your best self in what you do.
Imagine a human world in which cooperation and care of self and others was the governing principle. Oh but wait! We’ve had glimpses of what that world could be this past year. Health professionals pulling together in crisis situations to help others, often at personal cost; entire cities of people following masking, distancing and other protocols to help flatten the virus curve; many people sharing their skills online to help others in various areas of self-care and personal growth--from online courses to exercise programs to Arts experiences; the growth of online communities that transcend borders; governments releasing funds to its citizens and cooperating on vaccination acquisition; communities of people doing the very difficult work of naming points of trauma that need healing in our society so that we can do the repair work needed to come together; the continued commitment of so many of us to repair the damage we have done to the Earth; and the Earth herself showing us it wouldn't take much time for her to repair, if we would only stop our destructive behaviours. There will always be those who have difficulty cooperating. As oceanographer Danny Grunbaum says, “Cooperation never means the absence of conflict of interest. It means a set of rules for negotiating conflicts of interest in a way that resolves them.” I would add, “for the highest good of everyone involved.”
At the start of this Solar Year, we are on the cusp of huge changes, which can be both exciting and scary. How we meet them will depend greatly on how we change the story we believe about ourselves, our relationship with the planet and with all living things. I, for one, hope we continue to choose the win-win options.