Feeling 'At Home' in These Times of Change
Hi there my lovely,
How are you? I know that's a phrase that's often used as a greeting, and one that we don't necessarily want to know the answer, but I genuinely want to check in and see how you are?
Life is odd. We're facing more changes again as the situation with Covid-19 continues to evolve and circumstances shift and change. There seems to be a lot of uncertainty, instability, and not a lot that we can do about it so, I feel it's important for us to be able to have a sense of 'coming home', of being stable, in a figurative sense.
Home means different things to different people - I'm not necessarily talking about your literal home (although that can be a lovely place to foster a feeling of 'home'), but I'm referring to whatever brings you a sense of comfort and familiarity. What makes you feel grounded? Secure? Happy? For me, as well as family, one of those things is herbs. Working with herbs and helping people feel better with them is immensely satisfying and grounding for me. Particularly the way I use herbs according to how I learnt from Dorothy Hall (vale Dorothy). I was so very lucky with my training as a herbalist to have studied with Dorothy. For herbalists and naturopaths in Australia, she's a celebrity like a film star or famous author. Dorothy taught that many herbs have 'person pictures', meaning there are certain personality types that suit certain herbs and for each there’s a positive person picture and a negative person picture. Learning about these person pictures is fascinating - they paint such clear pictures in my mind when I think about them, and they really help me understand my patients/clients better.
Just as herbs (particularly Dorothy's way of practising with person pictures) make me feel at home, I thought that reading about a few of them may bring a sense of comfort to you too. I think you'll likely identify with a few aspects of some of them. Of course, these are just 3 of my favourites (there are about 50 herbs with person pictures in total), so you may also find that you don't necessarily relate to these. If you'd like to know more about them, please reach out!
Remember the White Rabbit in ‘Alice in Wonderland’ always looking at his watch and in a hurry? And not very mindful? He's the perfect embodiment of the chronic alfalfa person picture. Many of us today get caught up in this way of being, with never enough time to get everything done, always on the go and thinking of the next place we need to be, or the next job to do.
Alfalfa is the herb to help this. The constant rushing and not being in the moment, gets our nervous systems all hot and bothered, with the result being someone with a prickly, irritable, inflammatory type body. The diseases (‘dis-ease’) suffered by the alfalfa person are those conditions typified by congestion, irritation and itchiness, inflammation and mucous build up. When the body is irritated it produces more mucous to calm things down. Are you getting a picture in your head of someone with hay fever? Allergies? Acid reflux? Arthritis? You’d be right if you are. Even bad reactions to insect bites are an indication of overacidity.
Ahh lovely chamomile. She’s such a gentle yet effective herb, soothing and relaxing to both nervous and digestive systems. Chamomile is gentle enough to use for children and strong enough to get good results. She’s one of the most prescribed herbs in my dispensary.
The chamomile ‘person picture’ (yep, I’m one) is the person who lives all their stresses twice. The first time is when the event is happening and the second is when they’re retelling the story to someone who’ll listen.
A positive chamomile still loves to get home and share their day with their loved ones in a tempered and calm way, without the drama, and they can sit and enjoy their dinner and digest it well with a relaxed digestive system.
A negative chamomile finds it hard to switch off; their digestive system is crampy and uncomfortable (think of that little bloated belly that the flower centre resembles), and food doesn't digest well.
Some of the conditions that benefit from it are irritable bowel syndrome, colic, wind, bloating, indigestion, irritability, period cramps, teething and poor sleep. Generally, think of using chamomile for the type of digestive system that is uptight and not working well because its owner is also uptight and can’t relax. Chamomile is also useful for relieving the discomfort of many types of allergy: asthma, hay fever, eczema – especially where there’s nervous system involvement such as anxiety, fear, apprehension and even panic. Chamomile can be used externally as well; add a chamomile teabag to the bathwater to soothe and ease sensitive, itchy skin.
Vervain is a wonderful nervine, that is, a herb for the nervous system. It’s also a bitter tonic and astringent, plus more.
The person picture for vervain is someone who’s always fussing and fidgeting – you know the knee jigglers, there’s nearly always one in every group. They just can’t sit still. They tend to pick at their skin and or nails, fidget with their clothes and say things like – “I can cross that off my list now”. They’re very conscientious; always busy and not comfortable just sitting and being.
A positive vervain will make lists and get them all crossed off, a person in the negative will have so many lists that they make a list of their lists. When a vervain person starts on something don’t try and stop them!
The positive vervain is a good person to have around if you have lots of jobs to get done. They get everything on their list crossed off and sleep well knowing they’ve got things done and will wake enthusiastic and ready for the next day.
The negative vervain though, can become both irritable and irritated with a tendency to pick and scratch at themselves and others. Their sleep is disturbed by background niggles of not getting everything done.
So, while vervain is not specifically to do with self-love, you may find it very helpful if you find yourself being overly self-critical.