Happy New Year everyone. The other day was misty, but it also looked so ‘mystical’, so included the photo. It doesn’t do the real thing justice though!
Following on from ‘Back to Basics’ – A Simple Way of Living, I thought I would share some highlights from last year.
Sometimes trying to live a simple life, seems so complicated these days!
On reading the Old Testament of the Bible, many years ago, just reading it to see what impression I received from it, I was struck by how many times it stated ‘If, only you would listen’ then you would reap blessing and not cursing. It was if God was saying, why are you doing this to yourself?
Developing the art of listening to the ‘inner voice’ takes a long time. I remember those early years as a child, and teenager, where you just had to have ‘those pair of shoes’ or ‘this’ and ‘that’. I just drowned out the inner voice. Ignored it. It did not lead to peace. It’s as if I lived for ‘the next thing to acquire’. It led to a drain of energy; it did not lead to peace. So, when reading the Old Testament, just to see what it was saying to me, ‘I got it’ eventually – the art of listening which leads to peace. A good job the cosmic is patient with us.
I mostly lead a hermit life, since my initiation. This was the way I was led. It is ‘right’ for me. It’s not ‘right’ for everyone. I wake at 5am, let the dogs out, then meditate until 7am. Then my day is busy. I again meditate at lunch time for 1 hour, and one or two hours in an evening. As Om Swami says, it’s not the length of time of meditation that matters, but the quality. It is better to be able to concentrate for minutes than waste hours.
In the past when I have visited monasteries and went to retreats, I saw they had ‘their’ routine, and I came away thinking what’s really the difference between them and me cutting my day into similar chunks? In the end I came to see ‘no difference’ at all. Monks and nuns argued between themselves just like any other ‘family.’ They could just become ‘attached’ to things like anyone else, their robes, position, etc. It was ‘detachment’ that was the ‘key.’ I realized we were ALL on a path, ALL seeking, ALL learning from life’s lessons.
So, the year began with gathering Hawthorn flowers, which I use to keep a healthy heart and blood pressure for myself. I was born with Spina Bifida, I also have a kidney problem which I have had since I was 2yrs old, and several years ago diagnosed with ME due to all the trauma and one thing happening after another. I learnt to take a 15mins rest with a 15 minutes activity, and this helped me cope with ME. Let me tell you ME is very debilitating, especially when you have been used to doing many things and having lots of energy. There was much I wanted to do, but if I walked the dogs, I would have to rest for a week. I couldn’t do anything else. So. it was a case of prioritizing. Sometimes the dogs had to just do with the garden, so that I could do other things. It took several years to get on top of the ME. For instance, writing was a definite no, no, my brain just would not work. I couldn’t read, I fell asleep each time. Meditating was a lifeline and I gradually got back to writing. A little at a time. Just doing a little each day adds up.
Gradually I have now got on top of it, and don’t overdo it. I can have relapses, but I recover much quicker and doing the 15mins of rest, 15 mins of activity, I manage to do a lot.
It helped me slow my pace of life and live a simple life.
My GP wanted to give me Furosemide, for water retention, however, I found Dandelion root and leaf just as effective, nettle seeds too. Dandelion has a high potassium level, so leaves enough potassium in the blood, whereas Furosemide depletes the body of potassium and can lead to other issues. Clever are herbs. One synthetic drug leads to another and another…that became impressed in my mind when I used to go straight from school to help my mum who was a nurse in a nursing home for the elderly, taking all their tea trays to their rooms, and chatting with them, becoming aware that most of them were taking handful of pills daily, and I did not want that for me.
Always seek the advice of a medical physician, and always check that herbs are not contraindicated with medications you may be taking, and always try a very tiny amount to see if you have an allergic reaction. Check to make sure the herb is suitable if pregnant, or nursing your baby.
So, for me, I use herbs, and the nephrologist seems quite happy with that, as it has kept me well for many years now, and it is the only ‘medication’ I use for my kidneys. For dandelion, (Taraxacum officinalis) the parts used are dried root and herb. It’s a powerful “diuretic, bitter tonic, pancreatic regulator, galactagogue, cholagogue, anti-rheumatic, pancreatic and bile duct stimulant, stimulant to the portal circulation, mild laxative, urinary, antiseptic, anti-eczema, detoxicant, choleretic.”  It is a good all-rounder, and a bonus is, it is full of vitamins A, B, C, and rich in nutrient minerals too. It’s also easily available, grows everywhere, and one doesn’t have to worry about shortage of supplies or wondering what you are going to do if the synthetic drugs are suddenly ‘not available.’ I use fresh roots and leaves too. Also you can put the young leaves in salads.
And here are some pictures from the herbs (two pillow cases full of Hawthorn flowers I picked), and some soap making. You can use leaves, flowers and berries.
Sorting out the Hawthorn (Crataegus oxyacanthoides) onto trays, which I dry in a low oven 20°C, away from sunlight!
Some other pictures of various herbs I grew and dried or made into a tincture.
Some cleavers, also known as, goosegrass (Galium aparine) is a great plant to help clean the lymphatic system after a long winter. You can juice it or make a tea, and even cook it like spinach. Some people can be allergic to it, if they touch it, or drink it as a juice. I see it is already starting to grow! So, you can harvest right until the time you see those tiny seed heads form. The best time is when it is in flower. It’s a diuretic, astringent(mild) and lymphatic alterative. It is used for all lymphadenopathies, including that associated with upper respiratory infections/inflammations. Urinary tract, cystitis, oedema and dysuria, and skin conditions psoriasis and eczema. Externally it can be used for burns and abrasions. It is a good spring tonic.
Food really does grow all around you. Sorrel will soon be growing, and you can make salads, with the sorrel, young hawthorn, strawberry, raspberry, and blackcurrant leaves, hairy cress, chickweed. I put them into sandwiches, or add them to salads. This is what our ancestors did, when all this was bountiful. A read of old English novels, shows we had abundant forests with lots of nut trees. Why on earth did we have a binge on just planting fir trees, instead of keeping a wonderful variety, the people that were poor could at least forage and enjoy. Now one can’t afford a packet of nuts. God created this world full of a variety of fruits, herbs, nuts etc. Humans are the one’s who set boundaries and claimed ownership and made food in short supply. Sustainability, also means this – short supply. Grow as much as you can, where you can, on verandas, flat roofs, you will be amazed just how much a small area can yield.
One of my favourite books is Grow Your Own Drugs, by James Wong, and you can pick up second hand copies very cheap off Amazon .
This is Marshmallow.(Althaea officinalis)
I am currently reading Om Swami’s The Wellness Sense, which shows me yet another dimension of healing.
Blessings to you all.
Sakthi Bartram T. 1995, Bartram’s Encyclopaedia of Herbal Medicines, The Definitive Guide to the Herbal Treatment of Diseases, Grace Publishers, Great Britain p140