Healing is Hard.
Today I want to offer hope to those who are in the trenches of deep work. Now may be the time for fighting, but you are not alone in the war. Who’s with you? Make a list.
Part of our jobs as healers is to recognize our client’s ability to heal themselves. This is often, the hardest part for a person to see. Herbalists have to believe it for them. I like to break it down, organize it, wrap a nice a bow around it, and then hand it to my client like a present. Like an illustrated book on their vital selves. I do all that before I even think about herbs. Because first, we find the vital (chi/qi) seed and water it. Then we find the hope seed and plant it. Then we find the mirror seed and point it towards the sun. And lastly, we find the plants that have also been through the water, planting and sunlight, to match-make the work to be done. Herbalists are not only healers, but we are dreamers, believers, and organizers.
This month my body has remembered that it is fighting a war. It had forgotten for a while, having not seen the enemy or it’s repercussions in a while. Those of us that are survivors don’t need an explanation. It’s just life. And honestly, i wasn’t taught how to see beauty. And yet, I see it now. That we have more tools then we are taught. Unearth the trowels and dig deep. Break a sweat. Smell yourself standing in your visceral truth. Mine, is that I am not only fighting for life, I am fighting for so much more.
So, this month, I am offering you the tools that have helped me, my clients, my friends, and comrades. What I am going to focus on today is the concept of safety.
Identify your resources and use them:
1. Make as long a list as you can of every resource you can think of. Start with the simple stuff. And then go deeper. Don’t stop until you have a clear understanding that you have more then you realized.
For example, instead of writing “friends”, name that friend, and write down why they feel safe or helpful to you. Make it nice. Add some glitter. HANG IT UP.
2. Take 5 minutes and go for a walk or sit outside. Contemplate what makes you feel Safe. If you hit road blocks and start thinking about how not safe you feel. That’s ok. Let it out of your mind…and then keep going until you find at least 1 way and/or in 1 time in your life you have felt safe. Focus on how your body and mind felt in that moment. Try and hold on to that feeling for as long as you can. Remember that we are not made up of only our worst moments.
3. Flower Essences. Being able to feel our boundaries as we walk through the world as permeable people is essential. Maybe today your boundaries feel like iron. Maybe tomorrow you allow a window inside that iron wall to let some light in. You decide the materials, the structure, the look. Here are some flowers that help us feel safe in quiet strength.
A. Yarrow: Used for thousands of years for protection. You can also take the tincture in drop doses or dry the flowers and hang around your house.
B. Solomon’s Plume (aka False Solomon’s Seal): To clearly see one’s boundaries so they can exert themselves with confidence. To trust that you will not cross those boundaries and that no one else will without your permission.
C. Vervain and/or Rose can be used for those that feel inflexible when it is necessary to be slightly more open.
D. Centaury: For those with a recurrent theme of personal boundaries being overstepped, because the will to create and enforce those boundaries is wavering. Encourages one to find it’s own power by respecting and supporting oneself.
E. Gentian: For those discouraged by setbacks.
4. Herbs: Plants know the hard work of growth.
*Note: All the flower essences can be taken as tinctures as well.
A. Wild Lettuce Tincture: For those that feel disorganized, scattered and easily agitated during times of feeling unsafe, triggered, or vividly remembering unsafe times. For those that are walking through the world assuming this will be each experience.
B. Motherwort: Protects while nurtures. Relaxes the nervous system. Can give a message of “Things are going to be alright.” and “You are not alone”.
5. Small daily/weekly/monthly practices. Reinforcing and reminding myself of my strength and ability to do hard work has been one of my biggest allies. It can be as easy as writing one sentence down before going to bed at night. It can be as elaborate as taking yourself out on a date to the coffee house to journal. A dear friend and amazing herbalist once suggested that I take new moon and full moon baths. On the new moon, I release everything I want to get rid of. On the full moon, I take in the abundance as I submerse in water. It has helped me feel grounded, centered and focused on my wants and needs so they don’t take over my thoughts or interactions.
A note on “Self Care”: I’m not talking about creating a “self care” routine. I am talking about taking care of yourself as a way of life. The distinction makes all the difference.
A note on Organizer Burn out: It’s real. It happens to every social worker, every healer, every person who has stepped foot in a grassroots field. It makes sense. The world is not set up to support the supporters. While I am in full support of changing these models, we need help presently. Here is my general activist burn-out formula. It resets and recharges the nervous system. For those who have bottomed out energy levels due to pushing too hard. For those who need an herbal hand holding in their work. I would add some sort of intention statement on the bottle that you can say as you take it. It may seem cheesy to some. In that case, glue stick on an image that reminds you of hope. My last one said: “You are doing the best you can. You are enough.”
Activist Burn-out Formula: Milky Oats, Ashwaganda, Eleuthero, Motherwort, Rose. (Go ahead, add some of those boundary flower essence suggestions in there!)
When the work gets too hard. Stop. I give you permission. Every small drop you take to becoming who you want, is a drop worth taking. The rests are just as important. You will get there. As herbalists we can believe it for you. We’ve seen whole nervous systems change and passionflowers bloom from seed.
What I wish for you, is for the work to not feel like work. What I hope is that you see the change as it’s happening before you move onto the next thing. What I believe in, is a community that supports you during your worst moments. What I strive for is an easier world. Like a Smilax tendril reaching for the sun, only to find another plant to embrace, and build a new world with.
In solidarity. Take care. Stay Strong.
*If you would like to have any of these herbs, flower essences, or formulas. Please feel free to contact me. I have them for sliding scale donation. I am also available if you would like a consultation or brainstorming session.