with Melinda Rodriguez

Archive for the ‘culture’ Category

Reawaking Herstory

Many Native American tribes were matrilineal before the Europeans came along.  Women held great power and respect in these communities cntv_110221_hc_joshua_hinson_09and when a child was born, she/he was a descendant of the mother’s clan, not the father’s as is typical today.  The sweat lodge was actually a counterpart to the women’s moon lodge, originating out of a desire for men to release and restore similarly to women. The ancient ones knew of women’s great power and revered it.  The newcomer’s feared it.  And sadly, what humans typically do when we fear something is demonize it.  And so the devolution of women’s power began.  And when truth re-surfaces, the evolution can start a healing spiral of veneration for all.

I recently heard a woman ask if it was ok to prepare herbal remedies if she was in her moon time (menstruation.)  Huh?!  She was of Native decent, and being that women are often forbidden from certain ceremonies during their moon time, she figured it might also apply to herbal preparations as well.  The common reason that gets reiterated as to why women are forced to refrain from ceremonies during menstruation is that they are too powerful and will somehow affect the ceremony negatively.  Really?!  Please excuse the expletive, but I call bullshit!

I believe the underlying truth is that historically men have feared women’s power, and once again, what one fears, one must make “bad.”  I’m not blaming or bashing, nor am I lumping all men into this belief.  In fact, I think evolved men would agree.  It’s much easier to say we are dirty when we menstruate, or give birth, or bitchy as we move through our natural hormonal dance.  And so, as the celebration of women’s power evolved into the demonization of it with the arrival of a new culture, we were banished from the ceremonies if we bled.  With the evolution of women’s rights of course, it became much safer and politically correct to say that we were too powerful to join in ceremony.  As if that would somehow sooth, keep us from resisting and just go with the flow (no pun intended).

Unfortunately, much of the pre-European history of Indigenous American people has been lost. They often followed an oral tradition, and soon enough the truth was educated right out.  However, thankfully, tidbits of wisdom are still in-tact, even if not well known. Here are a few videos that might surprise you and make you think twice about the “herstory” of women’s power.

http://www.powwows.com/2014/09/10/matrilineal-societies-women-with-power-and-respect/

And let me be clear, I am not referring to women’s power as something that is somehow greater than men.  Neither is greater than the other.  Both genders have an equally shared responsibility with their power.  Claiming it and owning it never equates to an abuse of power.  One of the important first steps we must take as humankind, as we continue our evolution on this planet, is to honor one another.  The only way we can truly create peace is for both genders to equally respect and revere one another.  To me, gender equality is not about any woman being able to do what any man does, or vice versa.  Gender equality is about an equal distribution of power and truly finding admiration with each other.  Sadly however, the pendulum still leans deeply in the patriarchal field and women’s power is still not honored or even acknowledged in some areas of the planet.

The Dali Lama is quoted as saying “The world will be saved by the Western Woman.”  How ironic that Western women were once the leaders of this country…before it was a country.  My hope is that we the Western women wake up.  I mean really wake up.  No groggy sleep-walking, claiming we are awake and then feeling shame about our female essence.  I’m including myself in this desire, for I can admit that at times I can sleep-walk as well as anyone.  We need men’s support as we do this.  As Western women, we can waive our feminist flag all we want, but what good is it if we just become so harsh that we disown our nature?  Aren’t we then trying to fight fire with fire?  From what I’ve seen, more fire might make a good band-aide, but water is really the best remedy.

I’m proposing that our feminine nature, our juicy power, our lusciousness – in whatever way we desire to express it – is how we can nudge that pendulum out of patriarchy and into a natural swing of harmony; back and forth, sharing power, reciprocally.  As we honor and reconnect with the ancient ones, we reawaken women’s natural power, which is harmonious with all of life.  This is how the world will be saved by the Western woman.

Aho!

Unveiling the light within

I heard a song recently titled “I Am light.”  Lovely title isn’t it?  The lyrics are just as charming, speaking about not being our pain, not being our past, not being the things people have done to us, but being light at the core of who we are.  I believe this to be true.  But how do we experience this truth?  After all, day in and day out we live in a physical body and in a physical world that projects suffering from so many angles.  With the complexity of our human mind, believing and actually experiencing the truth that we are light can be a challenging quest that often seems to lead only to fleeting moments of any real awareness of our light – our Spirit – our God-self.  Anyone on a spiritual path pursuing spiritual growth knows of the many practices and journeys involved in seeking such awareness.

There is one practice that I discovered 15 years ago that truly opened my awareness of my light.  Whenever I engage in this practice, I sink deep into my body, feeling every cell of my being while simultaneously feeling connected to my spirit and my oneness with the Great Spirit.  This sensation lasts for hours, sometimes days.  The more I do it, the happier I am.  The amazing aspect of this practice is that it engages body, mind and spirit.  It is not a passive practice like meditation or listening to music; it is an active practice that requires gentle physical involvement.  It is an activity that has been practiced since the first humans walked this planet, in every corner of the world.  Every culture has roots to this practice, and in many parts of the planet it is still utilized today.  It truly is etched deep in our DNA, for no matter our cultural background, this practice was present at one point or another.  It is also something that anyone can do, at any age.

020 (2)Drumming!  And to a similar extent, dancing and singing or chanting.  These are all activities that our ancestors engaged in.  These activities were a part of everyday life.  They were healthcare for the community.  No one needed training.  No one was told they had no rhythm or a voice not good enough to sing.  Where community is strong in cultures around the world today, you will still find people engaging in making music, dancing or singing.  No one is a spectator; everyone participates, young and old.  And although they may not articulate as much, when they drum or dance or sing – they experience their light.  They experience joy and happiness.  They feel connected to their community as a valued member with something precious to contribute.  These innate elements of creating rhythm with others is sweet medicine to the body, mind and soul; medicine so many are missing out on today.  This missing medicine I believe to be a big part of why so many people feel disconnected, disenfranchised, depressed, ill, and overall unhealthy in today’s world.

Because we have evolved so far away from such activities in western culture, drumming is often a safe beginning activity to get our feet wet and reconnect to our light as we drink in the delicious awareness of our spirit.  Anyone can pick up a drum like a djembe or frame drum and play it.  And when a group of people come together and play drums – magic happens; literally!  I’ve witnessed it hundreds of times with people from all walks of life, all ages, and all backgrounds.  I’ve seen reticence morph into ecstasy in less than 30 minutes.  It just never gets old.  I get a double whammy of light every time I lead a drumming event because not only am I experiencing my spirit, but I’m watching everyone around me experience theirs.

Honestly, you don’t need a drum though to unleash this divine connection to your light.  Something a simple as a tiny egg shaker can connect you to your rhythm, which is the real essence that exposes the light.  Even objects around your home can be used to make some sacred noise.  A basic rhythm such as a heartbeat rhythm played repeatedly for at last 10 minutes or longer will actually shift your energy.  This isn’t something I’ve hypothesized, this is scientific fact.  Dr. Barry Bittman has done extensive research into the effects of group drumming.  To summarize one of his most notable findings, cancer fighting antibodies were found in the blood of a group of people drumming together that were not there prior.  I would hypothesize however that it was not so much the drumming that manifested these antibodies, but the group of people connecting with their rhythm and making music together that made the magic.  It is rhythm that is the direct link to our light, regardless of the medium.

Our ancestors may not have had the knowledge we do today about rhythm, but they certainly had the wisdom.  They knew the power of rhythm and how it affects the community as a whole, which in a healthy society is the health of the people; body, mind and spirit.

So the next time you are feeling down, disconnected, unsure of your light – drum, dance or sing.  Better yet, find a group of people to do it with.  Let go of any inhibitions about rhythm; those would be just part of an untrue story.  No one is truly without rhythm; it is a biological impossibility.  We might find ourselves disconnected from our awareness of it, but just like our light, our inner spirit, it is there…always.  The more you explore rhythm, the more connected to it you will feel.

Be forewarned though – connecting with your rhythm has been proven to ignite states of joy, harmony, ecstasy, peace and a lasting awareness of the light within.  So don’t blame me if you find yourself in a space of exhilarated happiness from drumming or dancing or singing – thank me.

In Rhythm & Harmony

Melinda

 

 

 

 

Authentic Beauty – Letting You Shine Through

I have a client who recently had an incredible breakthrough experience that has had a huge impact on her life.  I would like to share her revelation with you as a succulent dose of joyful inspiration that you can apply in your own healing journey.  This incredible woman has graciously given me permission to retell her encounter, but I’m going to change her name in this story because integrity tells me too.

Katie is a successful entrepreneur who lives in the Midwest and works from home most days.  She loves her small town life-style. She is also very passionate about her career, which has her traveling several times a month for meetings with clients and potential clients.  A few months ago Katie had to fly to Los Angeles to meet with a new client.  What occurred in this two day journey was a transformational shift that has brought more peace into Katie’s world than she could have ever imagined.

f37e571783468237a9dc7ff4dcda4140You see, even though Katie is a very attractive woman who carries herself with impeccability, she sometimes struggles with a debilitating poor self image stemming from some wounding in her youth.  She has worked diligently in her adulthood at healing this issue and has made incredible strides which have greatly enhanced her ability to reach the level of success she has, as well as augment her relationship with her husband of 22 years.  However, as a woman in her late 40’s, Katie is beginning to struggle with the unavoidable changes in her appearance due to age, which is triggering that old wounding.  She is finding herself feeling increasingly less confidant than she used too and is concerned that if left unhealed, could sabotage all the progress she has made in her beloved career as well as her relationship.  So Katie contacted me for a series of sessions to help her retrieve lost power, rebuild her confidence to accommodate graceful aging and step more fully into who her Shaman self as she embraces her authentic nature.

Katie is a profoundly powerful business woman; she is also deeply spiritual and knows the value of the sacred ancient pathways of wisdom.  What we discovered through our work together is that the wounding from her youth embedded a mental program that it was not safe to be authentic.  This mental program had a huge impact on her self image as she always felt that to be pretty, she needed to look, dress, behave and speak in a way that didn’t always reflect her truest self.  So we went to work in sacredly calling in her authenticity and anchoring that true essence into her whole being.

Katie loves her day-to-day casual rural lifestyle.  She also enjoys getting spiffed up when she is working with clients.  She enjoys the beauty rituals and the contrast of hair, makeup and dressing up to her casual daily comfort.  Prior to our work together when Katie had to travel to chic, cosmopolitan cities, her triggers were amplified and she found herself compulsively obsessing about appearing as beautifully youthful as possible.  In fact, her mental chatter had overtaken her intellectual sense and she found herself more made up and dressed up than what was really comfortable, causing her to critically judge herself, spawning a downward spiral of poor self image and abusive self talk.  Although she carried out her client meetings successfully, inside, she was a hot mess.

Fast forward to Katie’s meeting in LA where her diligence in healing herself paid off.  As she prepared for her travel, she packed clothing that genuinely made her feel beautiful without concern for what might be fashionably trending in Southern California.  It wasn’t country bumpkin attire, but it wasn’t over the top sexy which in the past, was part of her MO trying to uplift the poor self image.  She applied her makeup in a way that really suited her instead of gooping on too much, which never looks good.  Most importantly, she packed her authenticity.  She vowed to be herself no matter what.  She focused on her inner beauty, her natural skills and talents and her newfound sense of safety in being honest and authentic…always, in all ways.

Throughout her expedition Katie felt uplifted, light and full of joy, gratitude and love.  These delightful sensations were like a boomerang that brought into her experience even more.  Challenges arose, but she was empowered to overcome peacefully, and she did.  Her business meeting went so well that her client introduced her to some friends and business colleagues and she soon found herself booking three more unanticipated meetings before she went back home that proved extremely lucrative.

But the real nugget of confirmation in Katie’s healing came from a chance encounter with a total stranger.  Katie and her business partner Brian were catching a cab together back to the airport to head home when the cabdriver began to apologize profusely.  At first she was puzzled, and both she and Brian looked at each other with confused expressions, telepathically saying to each other “what is going on?”  Then the cab driver went on to explain that he was apologizing for staring, but that he thought she was the most stunningly beautiful woman he had ever seen.  He went on to remark how in a town filled with fakeness, she stood out above everyone because her authenticity and inner beauty radiated outward in a way that surrounded her in an aura of exquisite gorgeousness.  She was a bit taken aback by his remarks, but she knew this was Spirit’s way of confirming that she had healed what she had struggled to believe for herself.  Her business partner smiled and jokingly said to the driver “how do you know I’m not her husband?”  The driver replied “I mean no disrespect; I simply had to tell this beautiful woman how amazing she is to be out here as a role model for other woman who are afraid to be who they truly are.”  WHOA!  Brian just chuckled, and of course he did not really understand the depth of that response, but Katie did.

In the days, weeks, and months following Katie’s excursion to Los Angeles, she could really feel authentic confidence sink deeply into her being.  Our work together had culminated in this profound, integrative experience that solidified the deep processing that Katie had the courage to work through.  True healing works within the earth realm, in the real world, in our every-day life.  It affects how we feel as a human and anchors our soul deep within our physical being so that we walk our journey synchronized, awake, and living life to our fullest human potential as a result of our deep spiritual connection.  Healing raises our vibration, but it does not lift us away from life’s experiences, for they are necessary in the evolution of our soul.  Enlightenment is not about becoming so spiritually “pure” that we live in joy and love 24/7, for that is not our design.  Enlightenment is about understanding that the polarity of life is a vitally important component in our relationship with the Divine.

I hope that you can take away some juicy tid bits from Katie’s story and apply it to your life and your spiritual journey.   And when you are in the LA area, be sure to ride in a cab.  You never know when you might get the driver who lets angels speak through him.

In Rhythm & Harmony,

Melinda

You Own It – The Power to transform the World

Are you a woman who wants to change the world?  If I may, allow me to share a powerful secret that will grace you with the very tools that would aid you in your mission.  What is this secret?  Give yourself the audacity and loving permission to see yourself as scrumptiously, succulently, beautiful and flaunt that gorgeousness as if you are the queen of an exotic empire.  And as you strut your stuff, the key to the real power contained in this prayer to the universe is to walk your path with the awareness that everyone you encounter is also queen and king of their own exotic empire, even if they appear not to know this yet.  Because you honoring your intrinsic beauty as you honor the same in others inspires this very awareness in everyone you come across creating a domino effect unveiling the deepest depth of potential in humanity.  In other words, as Mama Gena says…”a gratified woman benefits everyone.”

cab9412058ba03272fe50eb8bc94514aThose are essentially a lot of fluffy words trying to describe the universal law of “owning it.”  I’m sure you have come across a woman who “owns it” and have thought to yourself, WOW.  Maybe your small mind chimed in with a few insults to make itself feel better, but no doubt your higher mind had some input as well that observed the power of a woman owning herself as flawlessly, imperfectly perfect.  Maybe she wasn’t a size 2, but her aura of confidence in her beauty, as is, made her the most alluring creature on earth at any size.  Maybe she wasn’t what you normally think of as conventionally “pretty” but the way she carried herself with such warm and outreaching audacity created a beauty in her that far exceeded convention; and damned if she didn’t have the men folk buzzing around her like bees to honey.  This is what I call the universal law of owning it.  It takes fake-it-till-you-make-it to the next level.  Owning it asks you to reach deep within and bring forth the truth that YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL, even with your perceived flaws, which by the way, almost no one sees but you!

I have a dear friend that taught me this law through osmosis.  She is a hippie kinda gal and most comfortable in hippie kinda clothes.  In Orange County, CA where we stomp around, a hippie is a bit of a foreign concept.  It’s on an upswing now, maybe because of my friend, but we’ve been stomping around before boho was trendy.  Anyhow, she is the epitome of owning it.  She could have pie on her face, ripped clothes and shoes that don’t match and not only do all the men flock to her, but really everyone loves her.  She is not boastful as in I’m-better-than-you, but owns it in a way that completely repels judgment and actually invites others to own theirs.  She’s like the pied piper of owning it.

I on the other hand have dealt with a poor self image most of my life.  I’m sure many of you reading this can relate in some way or another.  However, over the years I have had the deeply juicy opportunity to fall madly in love with myself, not just on the inside, but on the outside too.  It is a work in progress and like everyone I have good days and bad days.  What is important to understand about owning it, is that it must be cultivated, nurtured and practiced.

I’m sure you can conjure up a memory of when you felt beautiful.  In the moments of that feeling you uplift others with the awareness of your light.  When you are owning it, you recognize that your beauty comes from within and transforms whatever perceived flaws you are identifying about yourself.  Walking through life with that kind of perception taps into the law of attraction in all of its glory; everywhere you go you are not only uplifting yourself but you are uplifting others and bringing them into the vortex.  That’s changing the world from a grass roots level.

So, I’m going to share something with you now as an action of power in invoking my own universal law of owning it.  This weekend I have to attend a beach party.  I’m honestly not a huge fan of the beach with the exception of sunrise and sunset.  Otherwise, its messily sandy, overly sunny, ruins hair and here in So Cal is full of girls with lots of silicone in skimpy little bikinis that in the past I have allowed to make me feel inferior.  But you know what; I contain enough gorgeousness both inside and out that we can all share the beauty.  I’m going to sport my own bikini at 43 and I’m going to own it!  I am going to rock it like I’m Kim Kardashian before photo shopping.  I’m not only doing this for myself, but as a living message that Hollywood can go f@$# off!

Are you with me sisters?  And brothers…when you honor the beauty in every woman, you too are changing the world.  So as we all go into the season of summer and feeling way to hot to wear too many clothes lets all OWN IT together and stop the madness.  Let’s uplift and inspire our own magnificence as we uplift and inspire everyone around us.

In Rhythm & Harmony,

Melinda

Healing with Ritual and Sacred Ceremony

The mind is a multi-faceted, complicated component of being human.  There are layer upon layer of depths, some of them conscious, some of them unconscious.  So many disciplines, spiritual paths, areas of study and even sectors of modern medicine have been devoted to studying this elusive, mystifying aspect of humanity.  Really, our mind and its capacity and capability are all that separates us from other animals.

Every single human being walking this planet experiences emotional and mental patterns that create challenges and even extreme difficulty.  Because of our uniqueness as living creatures, what is considered challenging for one person may be different for another, so everything is absolutely relative.  Really understanding this truth could save so many from incredible strife.

9be2173a80a954a01dddfbc6ed89fe23In indigenous societies of both present and past, difficulties of the mind are far less prominent than they are in modern cultures.  Contemporary life has become incredibly complicated and to add to the challenges we face, our progressive minds tend to dissect and over analyze our mental and emotional patterns to the point of exhaustion.  But it is not just the evolution of the modern human that has created deeper emotional and mental conflict; it is also the lack of community, ritual and sacred ceremony that play a huge role the demise of the modern mind.

In Shamanism, there is an extraordinarily powerful healing method called Recapitulation which is a process of ceremonially releasing issues and obstacles in your life that you are ready to let go of in order to move forward and create anew.  From a Shamanic perspective, when traumatic events occur in our life, we often give our power away along with essential life force energy.  In psychology this is referred to as disassociation.  If we never find a way to clean up, heal and call back the energy, an energy proxy of sorts takes the place and continues to guide the course of our lives, being triggered by any number of things. When triggered, we effectively operate emotionally and spiritually at the age of the event where we gave our power away.

The recapitulation process begins by taking some time, perhaps a few days, maybe weeks, to write your story.  Thoroughly write out your life story, focusing on areas where you gave your power away.  Start at your very first memory and include as many details as possible.  This helps you get in touch with sometimes buried feelings, memories and the associated energy around issues or aspects of your life that you are looking to release and change.  Make sure you write it all out on paper that can be burned.

Once you have completed your story, you will chose a date and time to ceremonially burn your story, with the intent of transmuting the energy around any occurrences in which you gave your power away.  Obviously the point of a recapitulation is not to “undo” the event, but rather to integrate the experience and call back the energy that has remained stuck in time.

In a recapitulation, the idea is to eliminate unhealthy aspects of our life rather than “fix” them through analysis.  While understanding the “whys” can help illuminate our mind, it does not return the energy tied up in the patterns we desire to change.   We might tell ourselves, “oh I know why, now I’ll stop.”  We may even watch ourselves closely to make sure the behavior has stopped.  All the while the patterns continue under a different guise.  In other words, knowing why a pattern is occurring in your life is a step, but without reclaiming the energy, real empowerment can be difficult to achieve.  The substitute energy that has been filling the void of the energy released at the time of the trauma continues to perpetuate pain similarly to the way an amputee will feel pain in a leg that no longer exists.

energyhands1-300x299Although a solo recapitulation is enormously effective, a group ceremony is exponentially more powerful.  When we connect and heal as a community we are multiplying the healing capacity of the energy present.  It also ads to the power of the event when participants are willing to share something about what they are recapitulating.  This can be difficult for some people who are accustomed to carrying around trauma and uncomfortable with sharing their pain.  And this is exactly why community is such an essential component to a healed society – no one should carry the burden of pain alone.  In a sacred space filled with loving hearts that would never repeat what heard, people are able to exhale the stifled ache of hiding.

When you go through the process of writing your story, you will want to practice the art of detachment so as to avoid going full into the emotion of power-releasing events.  Detachment isn’t necessarily standing back as a 3rd party observer, but rather an act of disconnecting from the emotion and not allowing emotion to control the situation essentially causing you to relive any given moment in time.

Always begin a recapitulation with ritual prayers.  Whatever fits with your spiritual beliefs is fine.  I like to open a vortex and invoke the four directions, elements, power animals, ancestors, sky father and earth mother.  I offer sage and use a few additional ceremonial processes that have been shared with me by my teachers.  And I always close with gratitude.

This Friday is the Summer Solstice and a perfect time for a recapitulation.  I will be holding a Fire Ceremony for women at my home in Southern California, which will include a recapitulation.  If you are unable to join us, you can still hold your own ceremony and link up with us energetically (men included).  Ritual healing transcends time and space and connects with the sheer power of intent.

I look forward to connecting with the brilliance of your spirit!

In Rhythm & Harmony,

Melinda

The Wisdom of Herbal Allies

There are many reasons people turn to herbs for wellness support.  Some simply prefer a more natural approach to what they put in their body, while others are being told by their doctors that they need medication (all of which have horrible side effects) for certain health conditions and want to see if they can make herbs work first.

The herbal industry is a powerful one indeed and growing exponentially.  Americans are spending tens of billions of dollars on natural supplements each year.  The Journal of the American Medical Association (J.A.M.A.) released an issued devoted entirely to the studies of herbs and alternative remedies.  Among the fascinating findings was that Americans today make more visits to nontraditional practitioners, many of which claim expertise in herbs along with other natural therapies.  And they spend almost as much out of pocket on alternative medicine (most of which are expensive pills).  I’m going to assume these alternative practitioners are prescribing herbal remedies with good intentions, but where does their knowledge of herbs come from?  Their text books?  Industry influence?  Or from true herbal experts that have actually formed a relationship with each herb and their connection to humans?

I have a question for you…which provides you more nutritional value – a packaged processed food or a whole food?  Duh!  You know the correct answer.  So, which do you think provides more healing constituents – a processed plant that is powdered and plunked into a capsule OR a whole herb prepared with love and respect by YOU?  Moreover, do you think it would be wise to combine Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft in one massive dosage?  More is better right?  I’m guessing you would not consider this.  Yet, many of the herbal remedies sold to us by practitioners and health food stores contain multiple herbs in one pill.  With my knowledge, in my opinion, we are being sold to by a greedy industry with marketing ploys that play upon the American notion of more, more, more!  And, many of the herbs being packaged can actually have side effects.

So, let’s get some clarity here.  The following are guidelines set forth by Susan Weed.  First, it is wise to know that herbs fall into four basic categories:  Nourishing, Tonifying, Stimulating and Potentially Poisonous.  Second, you need to make sure you have the right herb and that it is grown and harvested properly. If you are gong to grow them yourself, I highly recommend you study with an expert such as Susan Weed.  Or, if you prefer to purchase, make sure you have a reputable source such as Mountain Rose Herbs.

Working with “simples” (one herb at a time) is the best way to work with herbs.  It ensures optimal safety and allows you to understand how each herb works with your body.  My only exception is peppermint.  I often add peppermint to my infusions to enhance flavor.  According to Susan Weed, “The more herbs there are in a formula, the more likelihood there is of unwanted side-effects. Understandably, the public seeks combinations, hoping to get more for less. And many mistakenly believe that herbs must be used together to be effective (probably because potentially poisonous herbs are often combined with protective herbs to mitigate the damage they cause). But combining herbs with the same properties, such as goldenseal and echinacea, is counter-productive and more likely to cause trouble than a simple. A simple tincture of echinacea is more effective than any combination and much safer.”

”Different people have different reactions to substances, whether drugs, foods, or herbs” cautions Susan.  “When herbs are mixed together in a formula and someone taking it has distressing side effects, there is no way to determine which herb is the cause. With simples, it’s easy to tell which herb is doing what. If there’s an adverse reaction, other herbs with similar properties can be tried. Limiting the number of herbs used in any one day (to no more than four) offers added protection.”

So let’s break down the different categories of herbs, and what common ones fit into what category.  We will start with Nourishing herbs as they are the safest of all herbs and side effects are rare.  They are often used as foods and can be taken every day for any length of time.  According to Ms. Weed, nourishing herbs provide high levels of proteins, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, carotenes, and essential fatty acids.

 Nourishing herbs work best as food or in infusions like my favorite, Stinging Nettle infusion. 

Tonifying herbs have a cumulative effect on the body and are slow acting.  Side effects can occur but are typically short-term.  Tonifying herbs are best used in small quantities for extended periods of time, but not indefinitely like the nourishing herbs.  The bitterness of an herb is an indication of its strength and demands respect.  Therefore, the more bitter a tonic, the less you need.  Mother Nature is so clever.  Likewise, bland tonics can be used more freely. 

Tonifying herbs build the strength in specific areas of the body like an organ or the immune system.  Examples of tonifying herbs are: barberry bark, burdock root/seeds, chaste tree, crone(mug)wort, dandelion root, echinacea, elecampane, fennel, garlic, ginkgo, ginseng, ground ivy, hawthorn berries, horsetail, lady’s mantle, lemon balm, milk thistle seeds, motherwort, mullein, pau d’arco, raspberry leaves, schisandra berries, St. Joan’s wort, turmeric root, usnea, wild yam, and yellow dock.  Tonifying herbs often work best in tincture form.  You can add a few drops in water or take straight, depending on the taste. 

The next category of herb is Sedating and Stimulating herbs which can cause a variety of swift reactions, some of which may be unwanted as some parts of the body might “stress” in order to help other parts.  I once took an entire dropper full of valerian root.  I misread the directions, which stated only a few drops – YIKES!  Yes I slept incredibly well but was in a daze until noon the next day.  These are herbs to be respected and well understood.

Here is what Susan Weed has to say about these powerful allies; “Strong sedatives and stimulants, whether herbs or drugs, push us outside our normal ranges of activity and may cause strong side effects. If we rely on them and then try to function without them, we wind up more agitated (or depressed) than before we began. Habitual use of strong sedatives and stimulants-whether opium, rhubarb root, cayenne, or coffee-leads to loss of tone, impairment of functioning, and even physical dependency. The stronger the herb, the more moderate the dose needs to be, and the shorter the duration of its use.”

Herbs that tonify and nourish while sedating/stimulating are much easier on the body and can be used more freely, as they do not cause dependency. Sedating/stimulating herbs that also tonify or nourish are boneset, catnip, citrus peel, cleavers, ginger, hops, lavender, marjoram, motherwort, oatstraw, passion flower, peppermint, rosemary, sage, skullcap.

Strongly sedating/stimulating herbs include: angelica, black pepper, blessed thistle root, cayenne, cinnamon, cloves, coffee, licorice, opium poppy, osha root, shepherd’s purse, sweet woodruff, turkey rhubarb root, uva ursu leaves, valerian root, wild lettuce sap, willow bark, and wintergreen leaves.

Lastly I want to give a brief mention to some potentially poisonous herbs.  Some may surprise you.  Again, we must remember that each herb is going to have a different relationship with each individual.  I seriously recommend extreme wisdom when venturing into the realm of potentially poisonous herbs.  It would probably be best to work with an extremely wise and experienced herbalist before using.  Susan Weed happens to have a wonderful website with lots of resources along with a chat forum that her students frequent to answer questions. 

Potential poisonous herbs are strong, potent medicines that are taken in small amounts and only for as long as needed.  Side effects are common.  Examples of potentially poisonous herbs are: belladonna, blood-root, celandine, chaparral, foxglove, goldenseal, henbane, iris root, Jimson weed, lobelia, May apple (American mandrake), mistletoe, poke root, poison hemlock, stillingia root, turkey corn root, wild cucumber root. 

I have personally worked with several herbs discussed in the various categories, and always one at a time.  My favorite nourishing herb is Stinging Nettle.  I’ve also worked with Raspberry leaves, Red Clover blossoms, Peppermint, Chaste Tree Berry, Shepard’s Purse, Dandelion, and Valerian Root.  In fact they are all a part of my herbal pantry.  The results have been incredible, but it is also combined with the right diet for me along with daily exercise, limited toxin exposure and fostering a positive mind set.  Herbs are not magic bullets and don’t work in and of themselves necessarily, they are allies upon our wellness path.

It was a health crisis that caused me to turn to herbal wisdom.  I do not have health insurance, could not afford conventional medicine at the time, and even if I could, I don’t think I would have taken that route.  The physical healing following my pregnancy loss was intense.  I bled for a month straight and became horrifically anemic, weak and depleted.  The Shepard’s purse finally got the bleeding to stop.  The Nettle nourished me with iron and all the vitamins my body needed.  The Red Raspberry leaf helped to heal and tone my uterus back to normal.  My hormones were out of whack prior to getting pregnant, and they needed further balancing afterwards.  The Chaste Tree Berry helped with that and I took it for a full year.  The Red Clover blossoms are absolutely delicious and have a phytoestrogenic effect which helped bring further balance, but I only drank the infusion for a very brief time.  Dandelion is a great liver ally.  The liver is responsible for breaking down and processing all excess hormones for elimination, so supporting it is important.  But that too only needed a short time.  I use Valerian root on the rare occasion that I cannot sleep.  That was a far more common occurrence when my hormones where out of whack, but now that they are in harmony, sleep is not usually an issue.  And of course, I add peppermint to all my infusions because it tastes good.  I’ve also smoked it on occasion as it is a great healing ally for the lungs…and no it doesn’t get you high.

With all this incredible wisdom I know you are empowered and supported to work with herbs as nature intended.  And here is the best news of all…when we simply buy the whole herb in bulk to make infusions, or even as a tincture, it is so affordable.  You could even grow and harvest your own favorite allies.  As Susan Weed says “Herbal medicine is people’s medicine. Herbal medicine is the primary medicine of most people on this planet, right now. It’s not something old and dusty. It’s not a bunch of doctors and chemists figuring out how to use herbs like drugs. Herbal medicine is a 3-year-old picking plantain and putting it on a skinned knee or an insect bite. Herbal medicine is the medicine of women and children. It is the medicine of the earth. It’s medicine that’s free. It’s not something that must be studied before it can help you. Start with one plant. Approach herbal medicine directly, hands on, in the back yard with your children.”

In Rhythm & Harmony,

Melinda

The Wisdom of Living Well

There is a wonderful story told by Dr. Lissa Rankin about Stamatis Moriatis; a man living in the US in is mid 60’s diagnosed with cancer and given 9 months to live.  Instead of seeking aggressive medical treatment, he decided to return to his native Ikaria, a Greek island near the Aagean Sea.  With the life he had left, he decided to live richly.  He and his wife moved into a small house on a vineyard, he reconnected to his spiritual roots, planted a garden, basked in sunshine and reconnected with old friends daily over a bottle or two of wine.

Six months had passed and not only was he still alive, he was actually feeling better than ever.  He found purpose in his daily life and enjoyed his evenings with community.  Three and a half decades later, Moraitis is 97 years old, still living in Ikaria, never undergoing any cancer treatment.  At one point, 25 years after his diagnosis, he decided to go back to the US to ask the doctors what had happened.  The doctors were all dead!

135d9ef2a5953403cc96191a708d51d2I retell this story because I find an immensely important teaching for those of us living a fast-paced, stressed out, hectic Western life style.  In a land where conventional medical care is actually making us sicker than our insane lifestyles, it is time we come home to the truth of how to heal, reclaim our wholeness and bask in a state of wellness.  It is a process of unlearning societal programming and investing ourselves in the vital wisdom within that is thirsting to emerge.

Adrenal fatigue is plaguing a large percentage of Westerners today.  Some are aware of it, some are not.  What is most alarming is that we don’t seem to understand the depth of our endocrine system and the massively important role our adrenals play in our total wellness.  If the adrenals are taxed, the whole body goes out of whack.  Our hormones become unbalanced, our thyroid shuts down or goes berserk, inflammation sets in, and if left unattended, it all WILL lead to serious disease that can create a sickly life and even an early death.  It’s time to stop the madness!

You and only you are the master of your Destiny.  It is never too late to begin to make the changes that will lead you to the life you deserve; the life you were born to live.  But I have good news – this does not have to be a difficult process.  And I’m here to guide you.  I shall share some lovely pleasurable tips here, and should you desire further mentoring, you know where to find me.

First and foremost, I’m going to once again harp on the single most powerful herb on the planet!  You’ve heard me talk about it time and time again.  It is affordable, and may very well be growing in your own backyard.  Stinging Nettle!  This powerful little ally knows exactly how to nourish your adrenals, kidneys, bones and the entire body.  Stop popping umpteen vitamins and supplements each day and simply drink them via a tall glass of Nettle infusion.  A glass of Nettle infusion has all the vitamins and minerals you need for the day, and they are in their natural, effective, complex forms; not synthetic and broken up like they are in pill or capsule form.  Nettle infusion has calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, chromium, selenium, trace minerals, chlorophyll, manganese, silica, boron, zinc and iodine.  It is also a great source of vitamins A, C, E, K, B complex vitamins and beta carotene.

Stinging Nettle is the most powerful ally for adrenal fatigue, along with a whole-foods diet and a balanced rest/movement ratio.  These three components alone will empower you revive your adrenals and process the stress that comes your way.  The next step is to deeply evaluate your life style.  If there is too much stress, where and how can you begin to eliminate it?  The goal is not so much to deal with stress more effectively, but to eliminate the excess.  You can’t sugar coat a pile of shit and expect it to taste like ice cream.

Some components of stress may not be eliminated, so you have to look at what you can realistically (not necessarily easily) reduce.  If your job is more stress than joy, it is time to think outside the box and find other work.  If there are people in your life that suck the life out of you, it is time to contemplate letting go of them.  If it is a family member that can not be let go of, look at possibly less time spent with them and treating yourself to pleasure following exposure.  If your home environment is toxic – mentally, physically, emotionally and/or spiritually – clean it up!  If you need help with any of this, seek it.  Remember, you ARE power.

Setting up certain rituals in your daily life that bring you pleasure and peace are a step in the right direction.  Morning meditation and/or exercise are fabulous rituals.  Mid-day deep breathing, singing, dancing or nature brakes are delightful ways of flinging off stress.  Evening relaxation rituals are my favorites indeed.  I love to go out into my garden with a glass (or two) of wine and enjoy the flowers, the breeze, the birds and my doggies.  Even when I travel I make time to unwind, even if it means an hour less of sleep.  Studies now show that enjoying an evening cocktail actually enhances wellness.  A recent study showed that middle-aged women who averaged 3 – 15 alcoholic drinks per week (spread out over every day of the week vs. binge drinking) had up to 28% higher odds of being free from chronic illness, physical disability, mental health problems and cognitive decline.  Experiments from this same study even showed moderate alcohol intake can reduce inflammation!  Whoa!!!  Here is a link to the article http://www.cnn.com/2011/09/06/health/women-drinking-daily-health

ae924b653bad7e5397b5499ccf79afb1Now, I’m not advocating getting schnockered.  I truly believe that it is the relaxation ritual of that evening cocktail that holds the key to the health benefits.  It divides the day and sets the intent that whatever has happened is now in the past.  The potential of the rest of the night is infinite and full of possibility.  Additionally, if you are not a drinker, starting now just to get the benefits described here is probably not a good idea.  Find another additive for your evening ritual…perhaps a glass of Nettle!  But if you do enjoy a drink in the evening, this is great news and reason to let go of any guilt.  Many cultures outside of the US with phenomenal longevity stats indulge in such pleasurable activities (with responsible moderation).  Could Mr. Moriatis’s spontaneous healing be in part due to his evening wine drinking with friends?

The truth is however, drinking wine, Nettle or anything else in and of itself does not hold the secrets to wellness and longevity.  It is taking control of your life and making it one that is nurturing and nourishing that lead to joy and health.  That may mean you need to unapologetically step out of societal expectations, make some decisions and changes that are initially uncomfortable, but ultimately bring you happiness.  At the end of life, I guarantee you will not look back and be pleased with how hard you worked.  You will find peace with how well you lived, how hard you played, how lovingly you took care of your body and how unabashedly you loved.

I’d love to hear from you.  Your questions, comments and life experiences are welcomed and encouraged.

In Rhythm & Harmony,

Melinda

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