Yesterday I was talking with a good friend about the little things we can do to try to get grounded and relaxed when we feel like our lives are getting too crazy. We talked about things like cooking simple meals, taking walks, disconnecting from the computer/internet.
But this morning I realized that I forgot to mention the one thing that REALLY helps me to feel more, well, human: harvesting medicinal herbs from my small garden. This can be as simple as picking mint or lemonbalm to make a fresh infusion. It can also certainly include harvesting greens for cooking (I’m about to try get some dandelion going -sadly there are none of these ubiquitous super weeds in my own yard). But my very favorite herb to harvest is rose petals!
I have a number of rose bushes of various kinds and sizes in my back yard: I have a Cecil Bruner that only flowers (gloriously) once a year. I also have an Iceberg rose that is pretty much a spring-only bloomer. Then I also have a Marie Pavier (a very happy accidental purchase) that blooms almost all summer and a number of ultra hardy, ever-blooming Martha Gonzalez roses.
Morning is the best time to harvest the rose petals. I place them in a thin layer in a paper grocery bag and hang them in the kitchen to dry. It takes about 3-4 days. I then put them into a glass jar for storage. They will last for many months and really retain their great flavor/aroma.
Roses (Sanskrit: Shatapatri) are especially good for cooling the heat and irritation associated with over-active Pitta Dosha. Just the sight and smell of roses can instantly help relieve a Pitta blow-out on a hot summer day! In Chinese medicine, roses (pinyin: Mei Gui Hua) are considered a Qi and Blood mover (blood being very closely associated with Pitta dosha and stagnant Qi being a major contributor to creating pathogenic Heat in the body). In Chinese herbal medicine, roses buds especially promote the proper movement of women’s blood (don’t use if pregnant!), while the rose hips (Jin Ying Zi) actually help to stabilize and bind women’s “Essense/Jing” in cases where there is too much downward movement in female reproductive system.
The next time you feel like life has gotten too complicated, try taking a few minutes to commune with nature by harvesting some of her bounty. We’ve been doing this simple act from time immemorial. In fact, harvesting plants is probably one of the things we’ve been doing since before we were even Homo sapiens! Connect to your “roots” (and buds) and see if it doesn’t bring a little glimpse of Peace!