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Archive for the ‘healing herbs’ Category

Seeds of Change

Not too long ago, I wrote about how happy I was that my holy basil plant was thriving. I’d grown it from seed and it was now over a year old. photo 3 (2)

About 2 weeks ago, I spotted a little critter on the plant. photo 1 (3)

It was stark still, holding its body perpendicular to the plant. “It’s getting ready to form a chrysalis,” I thought to myself. Leaving it there to do its thing, I envisioned the “holy butterfly” that was going to emerge.

Little did I know, its “thing” was to eat every single leaf off my basil plant! When I went out the next day, I was horrified! The leaves were gone and so was the caterpillar, off to find more of my plants to munch. Now I know this is nature’s way, but did it have to eat every single leaf?!

I thought my plant would come back, but after a week of looking at the withering stem turning brown and not one new leaf sprouting, I resigned to the fact that it was gone. I pulled the stem out, feeling the roots break… with a heavy heart. I couldn’t toss it aside, so I hopefully set it in another pot of soil, just in case…

In the meantime, I planted more seeds in its place. It got me thinking about the fleeting nature of life, and pretty much all things. We never know how long they’ll be around, and we can count on the fact that everything changes… as I wrote on a friend’s nostalgic post today about his old house being bulldozed to make room for a new home, “Change is the only constant.”

Change is part of the life cycle. Resist it as we may, we can’t stop it. We can only accept what is and appreciate what we have, in the moment.

Change often brings sorrow, bittersweet melancholy feelings about what we can’t “change.”

Such was the case with the big waves about a month ago (in September) that washed away the Cove House at Sycamore Beach in Malibu. Many of us watched, in horror, as the waves crashed up against the Cove House, destroying its foundation and eventually pulling it out to sea… leaving us only with the memories of what used to be, a house where so much fun was had… Now, the beach remains, with only splintered pieces of wood as proof that the house was ever there at all…photo 4

The Grateful Dead captured the feeling so well (as they so often did) in “The Music Never Stopped”:

“No one’s noticed, but the band’s all packed and gone
Was it ever there at all?

But they keep on dancin’
C’mon children, c’mon children, come on, clap your hands…
And the fields are full of dancin’
Full of singin’ and romancin’
The music never stopped…”

And there is the key… to hear the music, if only in your memory, and keep on dancing… through the changes of our times, because, in the words of another musical sage, “the times they are a changing…”

Planting new seeds, we continue to grow.

When Seeds Sprout

Today I was delighted by the appearance of tiny sprouts! I planted three types of Tulsi basil seeds on the New Moon, June 11. I read the seeds can take 3 weeks to sprout, but mine peeked out of the soil today, June 18… exactly a week after I planted them, and, on my sister’s birthday!

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These sprouted seeds are especially exciting to me because I planted them with intention. I’ve long been fascinated by medicinal herbs and nature’s medicines, and when I read in Horizon Herbs’ seed catalog about Tulsi, I knew I had to grow them.

Tulsi, or Tulasi means “The Incomparable One” and represents the Divine Mother on Earth. It’s revered for its healing abilities, known to cure “countless diseases of the body, mind and spirit, bringing harmony and healing on all levels,” Sarvaga and Gunavati tell us in their book Tulasi Devi The Goddess of Devotion.

Even its Latin name, Ocimum sanctum, reveals this plant’s sacredness. Called the “Elixir of Life,” Tulasi is an important Ayurvedic herb. Ayurveda is a holistic system of medicine that has been practiced for thousands of years in India. It is basically living in harmony with the universe, to heal and maintain health. “Ayu” means “life” and “veda” means “knowledge” or “science.”

Herbal medicine is a huge part of Ayurveda, and Tulasi is “one of the most admired and respected Ayurvedic herbs and is renowned for its powerful healing abilities.” The list of conditions treated by Tulsi is astounding: “coughs, colds, flu, fever, congestion, bronchitis, asthma, sinusitis, earaches, headaches, diabetes, indigestion, gastric disorders, ulcers, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sore throat, kidney stones, join pain, rheumatoid arthritis, nausea, vomiting, cramping, mouth diseases, allergies, skin diseases, internal parasites, insect bites, numerous skin and eye disorders, malaria and cancer.” The book says there’s probably no other plant on Earth known to have such a “vast range of medicinally and spiritually uplifting properties.”

I love that Tulsi is a sattvic, or pure, herb. Ayurvedic herbs are classified by their natures, either sattvic, active (rajasic) or dull (tamasic). These can also be thought of as states of consciousness. Sattvic properties “include pure light, righteous action, creativity and the power of observation. Sattva gives the power of discrimination, knowledge and the ability to know truth. The highest state of sattva manifests as peace, harmony, contentment, compassion, unconditional love, selflessness, devotion and faith. Sattva is the state of equilibrium. When sattva prevails, there is peace and tranquility. Tulasi has the quality of pure sattva.”

Being this is an Ayurvedic herb, I decided to plant some Tulsi seeds for me and my classmates in my Yoga & Ayurveda teacher training program. I found a Tulsi Seed Set, Tulsi Kapoor, Tulsi Rama and Tulsi Krishna, along with the wonderful little Tulasi Devi book at Horizon Herbs, an awesome seed company in Williams, Oregon.

The book talked about how to plant Tulsi seeds and their favored conditions and also the medicinal and spiritual role of the herb.

I’m fascinated to learn that there are 108 names for this plant, so revered as it is in the Indian culture. I’ve been reading that scriptures and legends tell of Tulsi’s virtues. Apparently, traditionally every house in India had a Tulsi plant in the front yard that they cared for and worshipped as a symbol of divine nature. Tulasi comes from the word thula, which means “to lift up.” Tulasi is believed to “lift us all up to the Lord’s side.”

The Tulasi seed is said to symbolize the spiritual awakening within us. I can understand that by the wonder and joy I felt looking at the little sprouts that surprised me this morning!

Of the countless stories about Tulsi, one I especially love comes from a scripture recalled by Swami Premananda told in the book. “If one lovingly gazes at Tulasi with devotion in the early morning hours, one will enjoy perfect eyesight for the rest of his life. Knowing that the modern mind needs scientific facts in order to prove these types of scriptural statements, he resolved to look into this further.

“After a long search, he discovered research confirming that Tulasi releases a special vapor, along with ozone, during the early morning stages of photosynthesis. He felt that when one gazes with devotion the eyes may become moist or filled with tears. What else but this moisture of devotion could make the eyes best able to absorb the benefit of the vapors?” So as often goes, science confirms spirit.

I am so excited to watch these sprouts grow into this glorious herb and experience its magical, natural healing.

I also love being a part of “the preservation of healing plants worldwide,” as Horizon Herbs says we are doing by sowing these medicinal seeds. GMO-free, naturally…