Happy Valentine's Day! Today I offer you a special gift...an excerpt from one of my research papers about Stress Management. Since today is the day we acknowledge our hearts, I wanted to share this section that is dedicated not only to human hearts, but the the heart of nature that comes through in the plant kingdom.
Please feel free to share this blog with others if it speaks to you, but all content on my website, including this original work, are subject to copyright laws. I love sharing, but please credit me as the original author - this was months worth of work. Thanks for honoring me by stopping by, and honoring the work with proper credit. Enjoy!
Opening the Heart
“Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.”
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), there are three treasures. Jing is the source of all life; Qi is energy flow -the sources and movement of Jing; and Shen is the “spirit”, the vitality behind the activation of the source: how we move Qi, use Jing, and how it comes together for who we are.1 When we are under stress, our Shen becomes disturbed, affecting our perception, sleep, and our ability to be present. We can become irritable, restless, frightened, and experience poor memory, loss of appetite, and night sweats. Shen is housed in the heart.
I’ve noticed a correlation between the concept of Shen and what Americans casually refer to as our “heart”. Colloquially speaking, the “heart of the matter” is the center… the truth…the essence of an issue. When we talk about things coming from our heart, we’re speaking truthfully and openly. Our heart is our center - who we really are, our essence and our connection to everything else as we understand it. I believe that that use of the word “heart” could also be referred to as our spirit, whether or not we have religious beliefs associated with our place and purpose in life. Spirit/heart is really our center and our place of connection from which our lives flow.
When things are out of balance in the center/heart/spirit, our life does not flow well. Things get clogged and stagnate, just like they can in our physical hearts and vessels. The spiritual equivalent to physical plaque is emotional baggage. The conflicts we have forged between our thoughts, feelings, and expectations versus what is actually occurring in our lives will collectively pool until we feel pain in our center and deal with it. We will be unhappy, and no material goods will compensate or move us to a place of peace and joy. We can’t run from our center/ heart /spirit. It’s a part of us and moves with us, even if we’re going in the wrong direction.
We have to open our hearts. And nature steps in to help us, if we'll allow the experience. Nature has always been here for us, since human time began. It’s still here and willing to serve so that all may be in balance, waiting for us to remember her gifts. When humans are stressed and out of balance, so is nature and the planet as a whole. Nature offers these gifts to help us become whole as humans, and as a part of this world. As we heal ourselves, we heal the world. And we need only simply step outside to start the process of opening our heart. Nature has a way of helping us clear out all that is not us, helping us to connect to our center/heart/spirit.
As a result of being outside frequently, I’ve steadily become aware of the persona of the flora and fauna around me. Every part of nature has a song to sing and share, and is most willing to do it. We’ll hear it if we pause, take a breath, and listen. Particularly, our green allies in the plant kingdom joyfully offer their wisdom. Nature offers us a return to the heart, back to our center, by opening hers through the plant world. If we can pause for just a moment, we can plug back into that song. It may just be at the edge of our hearing, or be a quiet beat off in the distance, but we can sense it. The longer we listen, the better we’ll hear. Then we can start moving in rhythm with it, in the place of our Heart.
And so, here is a gift from a few special plants that offer their medicine to soothe and nourish the nervous system, as well as help heal the heart on many levels. The following poems came to me as I researched each of these plants. I've named them Heartsongs, as they are a gift from the heart of the plants themselves - the songs of their medicine for a return to the heart. What follows is simply my understanding of how they "spoke" to me. I hope you'll find your own experience with them.
~Linden~The flowers of this beautiful tree make a pleasant-tasting tea that lifts the spirits, gently lowers blood pressure, and can assist with mild depression, irritability, and anxiety. Linden helps us pause, and lifts us back up into ourselves when we've become lost in the daily grind...
sweet is the medicine I have to offer
slow and delicate, light and fragrant
to bring pause to your day
all is not lost -
my branches are furrowed and full of living medicine
the sweetness of the earth,
of life itself,
drink upon this nectar
let it quench your thirst
and revive you
all is not lost -
Behold the forgotten joys within you,
around you, beside you
I tickle your memory...
Yours is the light to render this day anew!
look beyond the now to see the beauty of what is yet to be,
the possibility, the lightness of being
all is not lost -
golden are my gifts.
Like a mother who has earned her knowledge through great experience, Motherwort offers an elegant reminder to take things one at a time and enjoy the journey. I feel like I am in a supportive embrace in this plant's presence. She can help ease anxiety, heart palpitations from stress, PMS, and hyperthyroidism, and is a mild cardiac tonic.
One step at a time,
there are always challenges along the way,
but there is beauty in the journey.
What cannot be seen is sometimes the most valuable of all.
A loving presence is a priceless gift,
and what I offer if you'll partake.
A bright and countering spirit am I.
Sip of my nectar,
let the juices flow through you
and feel my solid strength supporting you.
Sit and rest awhile on my leaves
before you continue your journey.
I am here as you need,
reminding you to be present,
take one step at a time.
There are priceless treasures along the way -
one step at a time.
The berry of this tree is known as "food for the heart" and is anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, calming to the nervous system, and a mild vasodilator. This tree has an ancient and universal energy...
I bear no ill will toward any-
though my inner fruit is precious,
I am willing to share.
there is balance in my boughs
and that which is ultimately self
is ultimately worth seeking.
I am the dream of dreamers,
precious cargo contained within the cells of life
I possess the stuff of stars -
connection, the whole
where sky, spirit, and earth are joined
I am there
in the midst
holding space for you within my protected boughs
so that you no longer feel alone.
I span sky and soil,
straddling the parts of the whole
flow returning to flow...
The leaves and vine can help calm an irritable and spasmodic mind, alleviating stress-induced conditions like tension headaches and insomnia. This mild anti-spasmodic is also useful for restless leg syndrome and back spasms. Passion flower helps us release the thoughts and worries we can't shake, allowing us to come back to our center.
I open my heart to you
so that you may know
there is more than what you can see right now
I've unfurled my leaves
my petals spiral gently down
to free you
loosening all that befalls you
release your worries unto me
let me drop them to the earth below
so they may be cleansed
and you are bothered no more -
there is more than you can see right now.
In the morning's light
when the day is fresh
you'll start anew
with whole-er thoughts
freed from the weight of all you did not see.
I open my heart to you
so that you may know
you are light.
And Light we are indeed! May your hearts be open to all the brilliant joys in life, and may you discover any healing you need. If any of the above plants touched your heart, I encourage you to do more research about them, and honor your body by consulting a health practitioner before their use for your own safety and well-being.
Love & Light,
The statements on this website and/or through any consultation have not been approved by the FDA. Any information given on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease. You are responsible for your own health. Please consult a physician or an appropriate healthcare provider if you have any serious health condition.
1 DiPasquale, R., Calming the Spirit, 2001 American Herbalists Guild Symposium, http://americanherbalistsguild.com/files/mp3/2001%20Symposium%20Talks/Calming%20The%20Spirit.mp3. Accessed 5/19/11.