Insomnia taught me how to come fully alive in the night hours, how to sit in the dark.
Listen to the night-time traffic pattern, to the wind, to waves of feeling I sequestered during the day, to the ordinary.
Listen for a prompting, a question, a relaxation of muscle, intellect or heart.
Listen for Who might be listening for me.
Speak not with my tongue but some more subtle organ.
Here’s what I learned not to do: turn on a light, pick up a book, banish anxiety, get online, organize anything, expect answers. Distractions all.
Darkness is to sink into, like a seed held by soil without a tremor of urgency, the womb of time and space. Darkness, as Wendell Berry says, does its work.
These lessons of sitting in the dark strengthen me now, when so much of the shadow of the human psyche is abroad in me and in the world.
Darkness itself is sentient, full of knowing, and able to awaken, as we come into relationship with her.
As I wrestle with the sea changes in the US and around the world, I am more aware than ever of my own shadow being, and how vital it is for me to continue my “night-time” work, then bring it out as I engage with the daylight world.
While the days have begun to lengthen now,
may we be willing to continue laboring in the dark,
These are among the most common health challenges women voice when coming to me for herbal support.
If you’re dealing with some of these things right now, I want you to know- as crummy as you feel- your body holds the very healing power of nature itself. I also want you to know,
…there is no quick fix. Healing doesn’t work this way.
Your challenges, or symptoms, are showing you that your body is actually working to repair some state of imbalance, and it is asking for support to do what it knows how to do, what it is built to do: RESTORE health.
This was the view of Hippocrates, the 5th century Greek physician generally considered to be the father of medicine. He understood illness as a way that the body repairs disturbances of balance.
Naturopath James Sensenig views this innate force as “the tendency in nature towards organization, order and purpose,” which aligns well with contemporary studies of how complex systems such as the body self-organize.
My Approach to Herbal Support
I share the perspective of Hippocrates and Sensenig in my healing work. I look for plant friends and allies who can nudge your body back in the direction of health rather than suppress symptoms or substitute for the body’s own functions.
I work with Restorative herbs that nourish, calm, and tone your body’s stress response, nervous and hormonal systems, and cognitive function.
Early on in my three years of formal studies for a Masters of Science in Herbal Medicine, I was drawn especially to this approach, that now serves as the foundation for my clinical practice.
Over and over again, I have seen how providing this initial, nourishing systemic support can reset a client’s baseline health.
This is true even for clients living with challenging chronic issues such as fibromyalgia, lifelong asthma, and Parkinson’s.
Such conditions can be managed for greater comfort and quality of life (and alongside conventional medical treatment) as herbs calm stress and anxiety, lift a heavy heart and mood, sharpen attention, focus and recall.
A restorative approach is neither a quick nor a cookie-cutter approach, and it works.
A restorative approach takes time – weeks and months – first, to slow or reverse depletion, and then to nourish a vibrancy lost over months and years.
Many clients do begin to respond in a matter of days or weeks, and then continue to further benefit from a cumulative effect over time.
Each client brings a unique family and personal history, biochemistry, beliefs and knowledge – we unpack this fully in an initial 2-hour session, and the protocol goes like this:
1. You tell me the single change that would make the most difference on a daily basis.
2. You name your formula for the overall effect you want: Cool down, Kick-Ass, Sweet Dreams are a few that have come up.
3. We choose a form – tea, tincture, powder – that you can most easily incorporate into your daily life.
4. I draw on knowledge of scientific research and traditional use to select and combine herbs specifically for you, the ones that are the best match for you.
Practice = Optimum Results
When you adopt taking your herbs and observing their effects as a practice, you will see optimum results.
When you return for your follow-up with clear information about how you have responded to the herbs, this information is like gold, guiding the further refinement of selection, preparation or dosing of the herbs as we go forward.
We may work together to discover how you can become more attuned to your body’s responses. To notice and name with more detail and nuance the effects of the herbs, and of your emotional responses and behavioral choices on your body.
A restorative approach is a genuine three-way collaboration between the client, the herbalist, and the herbs themselves, a collaboration guided by the innate intelligence for health that runs through all.
The…life that runs through my veins…is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the Earth into the numberless blades of grass and breaks into tumultuous waves of flowers. ~Rabindranath Tagore