Garden Medicine

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The Healing Garden belongs to the category of holistic therapies based on integration between material and spiritual world. There is not division within us between mind and body, and gardens, preparing mind to the beauty, peace and quietness, are able to instil a well-being feeling that leads to a general health improvement. There are several scientific reasons why a garden is able to cure, some of them concern mystical-religious aspects and traditional symbolisms, which identify gardens as that places where divine, transcendence and philosophy meet each other, but are mainly aesthetic and sensory aspects (colours, shapes, scents) that allow to this particular kind of green spaces to carry out their therapeutic task.

Design elements involved a healing garden mainly concern aromatherapy and chromotherapy. The olfactory stimuli acts on the limbic system which processes and regulates emotional reactions and behaviors, also playing an important role in the formation of memories, and long-term memory. Fragrance generate feelings which subside aggressiveness, and bring comfort during disease.
Aromatherapy is a practice based on the therapeutic potential inherent in essential oils derived from plants and classified in “notes” according to the olfactory impression that each of them generates.
Top/head notes: Oils derived from fruits. It is characterized by a vibration that moves upward by stimulating the mental plane. It has an energizing and refreshing effect very good for intellectual activities. It is distinguished by a rapid and dynamic frequency.
Middle/heart notes: Oils derived from stem, leaves and aerial parts of the plant, such as flowers and petals. Intense and sensual, they tend to balance body and mind acting on emotions/affectivity. They have an intermediate vibration.
Base notes : Oils derived from bark and roots. Hot, slow and heavy, it has a very low vibration that connects us to the earth through stabilizing, relaxing and sedative action.

The sense of smell is not the only one involved in a healing garden and sight can be amply satisfied and stimulated, causing consequent beneficial effects, by the light and the colors from which the entire garden is permeate. The therapeutic effect of colors on human body depends from the oscillating nature of our cells. Disease consist of a dis-harmony of the vibrational rhythm of cells and colors have the ability to re-balance them. Indeed in chromotherapy, besides the psychological and emotional positive effect of colours, it is also possible to observe a physical benefits as ill organs are able to “select” colors, absorbing exclusively those whose wavelength is necessary to restore their balance.
Red (hot energy) : Stimulation, excitement, energizing, will-power. On the physical body it acts on heart, circulation, blood pressure, nervous and glandular activity, liver, nerves, senses, muscles and lungs.
Orange (warm energy) : Release, serenity, enthusiasm, joy, optimism, positive feelings. On the physical body it acts on thyroid, stomach, heart rate, lung expansion, spleen.
Yellow (warm energy) :  Happiness, sense of wellbeing, extroversion, lucidity, focussing. On the physical body it acts on blood (cleanser), digestion, intestine, nervous system.
Green (neutral):  Renewal, hope, development. On the physical body it increases vitality, restores fuctional balance and it is antibacterial.
Blue (cold energy):  Peace, serenity, harmony, calm, relaxation and stress relieving. On the physical body it acts on the nervous system, blood pressure, respiratory rate and heart beats, throat, teeth, skinre, It is freshing and analgesics.
Indigo (cold energy): 
 Meditation and intuition. On the physical body it acts on sensory organs such as eyes, nose, ears, parathyroid glands, It has anesthetic and hemostatic effect, is refreshing, astringent, blood purifier and tonic.
Violet (cold enetgy):  Spirituality, inspiration and imagination. On the physical body it acts on white blood cells, spleen, bones, skin and heart.

Healing gardens can improve and support our wellbeing acting positively during situations of stress, tension, inflammation, anxiety, depression, dissociation, degenerative symptoms, burnout and improving the quality of our own lives. Nature teaches us to face life and its difficulties with love, patience and trust and to prevent deseas trough balancing and harmony, and strengthening our etheric and physical body.

To Know more:
Healing Garden.
www.dryadesdesign.com

[Credits: ©Cristina Pandolfo. No permission of copy and reproduction without the author’s consent]

Annunci

Giardino Terapeutico

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I giardini terapeutici appartengono alle terapie olistiche basate sull’integrazione tra il mondo materiale e quello spirituale. All’interno del nostro organismo non esiste scissione tra mente e corpo e il giardino, predisponendo la mente al bello, alla pace e alla quiete è in grado di infondere una sensazione di benessere che comporta un miglioramento generale dello stato di salute.
Esistono diverse motivazioni di carattere intuitivo e scientifico per le quali il giardino è in grado di “curare”.  Aspetti di ordine mistico-religioso, legati al simbolismo tradizionale del giardino come luogo di incontro con il divino e la trascendenza e aspetti filosofici, dove la filosofia è considerata come “amore per la sapienza” e processo a cui è possibile approdare con calma e determinazione.
Nel giardino è possibile trovare quella solitudine e quel silenzio in grado di collegarci con il nostro lato trascendente creando le condizioni ottimali alla meditazione e alla riflessione. In esso riscopriamo la gioia della condivisione e della collaborazione, del dialogo, abbandonando rabbia, rancori, invidia, aggressività e vizi o abitudini che ci rendono schiavi e di cui spesso non abbiamo coscienza.

Gli elementi che intervengono nella progettazione di un giardino che cura sono strettamente correlati alle terapia dei profumi (aromaterapia) e dei colori (cromoterapia). Gli stimoli olfattivi intervengono sul sistema limbico che elabora le reazioni e i comportamenti emotivi, regola l’affettività e l’aggressività esercitando un controllo nei rapporti con gli altri e svolgendo un ruolo importante per la formazione dei ricordi e della memoria a lungo termine. La fragranza dei fiori agisce generando sentimenti che placano l’aggressività e confortano nella malattia.
L’aromaterapia è una pratica basata sul potenziale terapeutico insito negli oli essenziali naturali ricavati dalle piante. Questi ultimi vengono classificati secondo l’impressione olfattiva che ciascuno di essi suscita.
Nota di testa: contiene oli ricavati dai frutti o dalle bucce (specialmente nel caso degli agrumi). È caratterizzata da una vibrazione che si muove verso l’alto stimolando il piano mentale. Ha un effetto dinamizzante e rinfrescante e particolarmente adatto alle attività intellettuali. Si distingue per una frequenza rapida e dinamica.
Nota di cuore: contiene oli ricavati dal fusto, dalle foglie e dalle parti aeree della pianta, come fiori e petali. Intensi e sensuali, tendono a riequilibrare le energie fisiche e psichiche agendo sull’affettività. Possiedono una vibrazione intermedia
Nota di base: contiene oli ricavati dalla corteccia e dalle radici. Calda, lenta e pesante, ha una carica vibrazionale bassa che ci collega alla terra attraverso un’azione stabilizzante, rilassante e sedativa.

L’olfatto non è sicuramente l’unico dei sensi coinvolti dai giardini della cura e per chi non è privo della vista questa può essere ampiamente appagata e stimolata, inducendo conseguenti effetti benefici, dalla luce e dai i colori di cui l’intero giardino è permeato.
L’effetto terapeutico del colore sull’organismo umano è legato alla natura oscillatoria delle nostre cellule, il malessere o la malattia consistono in una disarmonia del loro ritmo vibratorio e i colori posseggono un potere armonizzante e riequilibrante. Nella cromoterapia, infatti, oltre all’azione psicologica ed emotiva è possibile riscontrare anche dei benefici di tipo fisico in quanto gli organi affetti da carenze o anomalie sono in grado di operare una “selezione” dei colori assorbendo esclusivamente quelli cui lunghezza d’onda è necessaria per ristabilire la loro condizione di equilibrio.
Rosso (energia calda): È il colore con le maggiori caratteristiche di penetrazione dello spettro visibile ed è legato al fuoco, alle passioni, all’amore e alla guerra. È associato all’istinto, al desiderio e alla sessualità e rappresenta una condizione fisiologica di stimolo ed eccitazione.
I suoi effetti sull’organismo agiscono sul cuore, aumentando il numero dei battiti cardiaci e quindi la circolazione sanguigna, nell’innalzamento della pressione arteriosa, l’aumento della frequenza respiratoria e la stimolazione dell’attività nervosa e ghiandolare. Attiva il fegato, i nervi e i sensi e ha potere decongestionante. Aiuta i muscoli ad aumentare la tensione o cicatrizzare i tessuti e i polmoni in condizioni di catarro e stati congestizi.
Gli effetti sulla psiche interessano soprattutto l’energia fisica, la volontà e la stimolazione mentale in generale.
Arancione (energia calda): È il risultato della combinazione dei raggi rossi e gialli e ha un’azione riscaldante, rallegrante ed energizzante, liberatoria delle funzioni fisiche e mentali, di integrazione e distribuzione dell’energia.
Esercita una forte azione stimolante della tiroide, è antispastico, non aumenta la pressione del sangue ma stimola il battito cardiaco e la capacità di espansione dei polmoni, ottimizza l’attività della milza. Viene utilizzato spesso in sostituzione del rosso quando si vuole evitare l’iperstimolazione e i suoi effetti sulla psiche riguardano l’aumento della serenità, dell’entusiasmo, dell’allegria e della voglia di vivere, l’ottimismo, i sentimenti positivi e la sinergia fisica e mentale.
È utile in caso di apatia, depressione, pessimismo, paura, nevrosi, psicosi e anoressia in quanto stimolatore dell’appetito
Giallo (energia calda): Più suggestivo che stimolante dal punto di vista fisiologico risulta adatto agli sportivi perché incrementa il tono neuro muscolare e dà una maggiore prontezza di riflessi. È un ottimo depurativo del sangue, aiuta la digestione in quanto stimola la produzione di succhi gastrici e purifica l’intestino riducendo il gonfiore addominale.
Costituente del sistema nervoso è un forte stimolatore di allegria, senso di benessere, estroversione e lucidità
Verde (energia neutra): Tale gradazione si colloca al centro tra i colori freddi e quelli caldi e ne rappresenta dunque la sintesi svolgendo una funzione riequilibrante.
Il verde è il colore della natura, simbolo di rinnovamento, speranza, sviluppo e fertilità. Dal punto di vista fisiologico promuove il benessere generale dell’organismo, ne aumenta la vitalità e ripristina l’equilibrio delle sue funzioni. Viene usato per curare stress, ansia, iperattività, cefalea e alcune forme di insonnia. È efficace, anche, nelle bulimie e in tutte le forme psicosomatiche che influenzano l’apparato gastroenterico (ulcera gastroduodenale). È inoltre un potente germicida e antibatterico.
Genera calma e rinfresca la mente, esprime volontà di operare, perseveranza e tenacia. È un sedativo del sistema nervoso aiuta a combattere irritabilità, insonnia ed esaurimento
Blu (energia fredda): È il colore dell’infinito, della pace, della serenità emotiva e dell’armonia e possiede proprietà calmanti. Dal punto di vista fisiologico stimola il sistema parasimpatico, diminuisce la pressione arteriosa, il ritmo respiratorio e i battiti del cuore ed è quindi indicato per chi soffre di pressione alta, tachicardia e palpitazioni. Ha inoltre effetti antispatici, rinfrescanti, analgesici ed è utile in tutti i casi di infiammazione, mal di gola, raucedine, mal di denti, stomatiti ma anche arrossamenti e bruciature cutanee, punture di insetto e prurito cutaneo. Ottimo per sedare i dolori acuti, in particolare quelli articolari e per ridurre gli stati febbrili. Gli effetti sulla psiche riguardano l’attenuazione dell’agitazione, sia fisica che mentale ed è dunque usato per favorire rilassamento e distensione
Indaco (energia fredda): Colore cosmico dell’energia, rappresenta l’intuizione che sostiene l’attività meditativa. Per la sua alta vibrazione ha la capacità di allargare la comprensione e curare i disturbi che colpiscono gli organi sensoriali come occhi, naso, orecchie. Dal punto di vista fisiologico stimola le ghiandole paratiroidee inibendo l’attività della tiroide e ha un effetto anestetico ed emostatico. È  rinfrescante, astringente, depuratore del sangue e tonico muscolare.
Viola (energia fredda): Possiede le maggiori proprietà energetiche dello spettro visibile. Stimola la produzione di globuli bianchi, la milza, lo sviluppo osteo-scheletrico. Ottimizza anche il rapporto sodio-potassio e combatte i disturbi della vescica e dei reni. È utile contro sciatalgie e nevralgie ed è attivo contro eczemi, psoriasi, acne, nonché ottimo cicatrizzante.
Depurativo del sangue, rallenta l’attività cardiaca e favorisce la microcircolazione cerebrale, per questo motivo viene utilizzato per contrastare la calvizie.
Gli effetti sulla psiche riguardano la spiritualità, l’ispirazione e la fantasia.

I malesseri sui quali il giardino terapeutico interviene sono piuttosto comuni a molte patologie, in particolare di tipo cronico e spesso non accusate solo da soggetti affetti da un disagio ma anche da persone che potremmo definite “sane”. Tensioni, infiammazioni, ansia, depressione, dissociazione, sintomatologia degenerativa e burn out caratterizzano condizioni generalizzate di stress che influiscono sulla qualità della nostra stessa vita. La riduzione del disordine da stress ristabilisce l’equilibrio interiore che ci permette un migliore controllo delle malattie.
La natura ci insegna ad affrontare la vita e le sue difficoltà con amore, pazienza e fiducia e a prevenire le tensioni fisiche e psichiche rafforzandoci. Migliora la comunicazione, i rapporti interpersonali e la condizione di esistenza nostra e di chi ci sta intorno. In tal modo, i giardini terapeutici, diventano il palcoscenico di un nuovo benessere ritrovato e della meraviglia.

Per saperne di più:
Healing Garden. Il Giardino che Cura

www.dryadesdesign.com

[Credit: ©Cristina Pandolfo. Non è concessa nessuna riproduzione del materiale e informazioni riportate senza esplicito consenso dell’autore]

People and Trees: Intimately Connected Through the Ages

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Trees Speak to the Soul of Human Beings
It is no wonder that trees have captured the human imagination since the beginning of time. Their strength, deeply rooted in the Earth, is an inspiration. Their trunk and branches are a wonder of nature because they stand sturdy and impenetrable most of the time, yet they can flex and sway with the wind when needed.
The whisper of a breeze in their leaves or the sight of ants marching in a straight line up or down their trunks remind us of the magic of nature that trees embody. They live for hundreds or even thousands of years, and so we revere them as keepers of past secrets and sentinels of the future.
Watching their cycles of growth, shedding of leaves, and re-flowering in the spring, people have long perceived trees as powerful symbols of life, death, and renewal. Since the beginning of time, humans have had a sense that trees are sentient beings just like us, that they can feel pain, that they bleed when they are hurt. Trees even look like us. People have a trunk; trees have arms. And so we innately feel a deep connection to them.
Many people say they can feel a tree’s vibrational energy when placing their hand upon its bark. With their deep roots, trees carry significant grounding energy. We naturally feel peace and serenity when walking in the shade of trees or on a forest trail.

Trees Help Us Every Day
A recent study shows that trees remove so much pollution from the air that they “prevented 850 human deaths and 670,000 cases of acute respiratory symptoms in 2010 alone.” When an insect called the emerald ash borer killed off a significant number of trees in the American Midwest in the 1990’s and 2000’s, rates of human death from cardiovascular and respiratory illness increased.
More difficult to quantify is the psychological effect that trees have on people. People who spend time outdoors, or even those who have access to windows looking out at trees, have been shown to have better health than those who do not.

The Universal Tree of Life: Both Ancient and Modern
The concept of a Tree of Life, often symbolizing the connections between all life forms, is found in many religions and philosophies, dating back as early as ancient Egypt. The Egyptian tree of life symbolized creation and represented the chain of events that brought everything into existence.
Fast forward to modern science. The tree has become the quintessential symbol of biological evolution, as its ever-branching image poignantly depicts the unmistakable interconnections between all living species on the Earth.

Consider this beautiful commentary from Thich Nhat Hanh reflecting on a tree leaf:

“I asked the leaf whether it was frightened because it was autumn and the other leaves were falling. The leaf told me, “No. During the whole spring and summer I was completely alive. I worked hard to help nourish the tree, and now much of me is in the tree. I am not limited by this form. I am also the whole tree, and when I go back to the soil, I will continue to nourish the tree. So I don’t worry at all. As I leave this branch and float to the ground, I will wave to the tree and tell her, ‘I will see you again very soon.’

… That day there was a wind blowing and, after a while, I saw the leaf leave the branch and float down to the soil, dancing joyfully, because as it floated it saw itself already there in the tree. It was so happy. I bowed my head, knowing that I have a lot to learn from the leaf because it is not afraid-it knew nothing can be born and nothing can die.”

Cultural Beliefs About Trees
Trees are considered sacred in virtually every place where humans have settled.
There are many profound beliefs surrounding trees that people have held for millennia. Here are some interesting and touching examples:

  • For the Sng’oi people of Malaysia, a person and a tree can belong with each other, and this relationship is maintained for life. Certain trees and certain people belong together. When a person belongs with a tree, they also belong with its offspring: any trees that grow from the seeds of the first tree, no matter how far the seeds may scatter. The Sng’oi people call upon their intuition to know which child trees have sprung from which parent trees.
  • The World Tree is said to dwell in three worlds: Its roots reach down to the underworld, its trunk sits on the Earth, and its branches extend up to the heavens. Many cultures share a belief that this tree is the Axis Mundi or World Axis which supports or holds up the cosmos. For the Mayan peoples, the Axis Mundi was a massive Ceiba (in other cultures, it is called Kapok) tree that stands at the center of the world. The Mayan beliefs reflect that human souls first came into being as the sacred white flowers on the branches of the Ceiba tree. Souls of the dead Mayan ancestors rose from the roots of the Axis Mundi up through its branches and into the celestial realms.
  • In Germanic regions, it was believed that mankind was created from tree trunks, echoing the perception that people and trees have much in common.
  • In Sweden, some trees were considered “wardens” and could guard a home from bad luck. The warden was usually a very old tree growing on the lot near the home. The family living there had such great respect for the tree that they would often adopt a surname related to the name of the tree.
  • A well-known sacred tree in Norse mythology was Yggdrasil a giant ash tree that was said to link and shelter the nine worlds that were believed to exist.
  • In Irish and English folklore, fairies would be found wherever Ash, Oak, and Hawthorne trees grew together. Hawthorn trees were regarded as a powerful symbol of protection, and were often planted near houses to ward off lightning as well as evil spirits. On the dawn of Beltane, it was believed that women who bathed in the dew from a Hawthorne blossom would become beautiful, and men who washed their hands in the dew would become skilled craftsmen.
  • Buddhists have a deep reverence for the Bodhi tree, a type of fig tree with heart-shaped leaves, beneath which the Buddha is said to have meditated for 49 days, trying to reconcile his mind to the fact that there was suffering in the world. On the 49th day, he stood and thanked the tree for providing shade for him, and in that instant he attained enlightenment. Today, in the same location where the Buddha is believed to have sat, there grows a descendant of that same Bodhi tree. Buddhist myths say that the tree will live there until the world is destroyed, and the place where it grows will be the last place to be destroyed; and when the world is reborn, that site will be the first place to appear.
  • The villagers of Piplantri, in Rajasthan, India, celebrate the birth of each little girl by planting 111 trees in her honor. The entire village works together to plant and care for the trees. This tradition not only ensures that the environment will be able to support the increasing population of the village, but it has also brought harmony and a drop in crime to the village.
  • In Malaysia, people maintain a very intimate relationship with trees. “There is a practice of tree planting around houses to the extent that the walls and wooden structures are allowed to give way to the roots of creeping plants, purposely sown at the bases of these structures.” The graveyards in Malaysia are covered so thickly with trees that the entire grounds are cool and sheltered from the tropical sun. The trees are allowed to take root into the graves and it is said that the trees whisper prayers to the creator asking for forgiveness of past transgressions of those buried in that place.

author: Jocelyn Mercado
article source: http://www.pachamama.org/blog/people-and-trees-intimately-connected-through-the-ages

Why your brain needs a Garden

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“There can be no other occupation like gardening in which, if you were to creep behind someone at their work, you would find them smiling.” – Mirabel Osler

Gardening awakens a primal urge that many of us have to connect with the earth. By putting your hands in the soil, you are able to physically unite with nature on an elemental level.
At the same time, gardening gets you outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine, helping your body produce much-needed vitamin D. It gets you moving, providing important exercise, and allows you to connect socially with others.
When you garden, you’re adding beauty to the landscape and habitat for birds, bees, frogs, worms, and so much more. Depending on what you garden, you can reap a harvest of fruits and vegetables to feed your family. You can also indirectly feed your brain for better mood and emotional health, and to satisfy your curiosity for knowledge.
In fact, learning is the fourth top reason why people say they garden — after to grow safe, healthy food, get exercise, and add beauty to their yard. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that people garden, in part, to stimulate their brains, as gardening has been shown to impact brain health considerably.

Spending time in a garden may help calm dementia patients
A new systematic review examined the impact of gardens and outdoor spaces on the mental and physical well-being of people with dementia. The research suggested that garden use, whether it be watering plants, walking through a garden or sitting in one, led to decreased levels of agitation or anxiety among the patients.
As for why the garden may help induce calm, Dr. Mark Stecker, chairman of neurosciences at Winthrop-University Hospital, who was not involved with the study, said:
“When your brain is impaired, you go back to your basic instincts. Many people have always enjoyed the outdoors. They may not have an explicit memory of that, but it’s an implicit memory. And they find it comforting to be outside.”
Interestingly, while spending time in a garden may help relieve some dementia symptoms, it may also help to reduce your risk of developing dementia in the first place. As reported by CNN:
“Two separate studies that followed people in their 60s and 70s for up to 16 years found, respectively, that those who gardened regularly had a 36 percent and 47 percent lower risk of dementia than non-gardeners, even when a range of other health factors were taken into account.
These findings are hardly definitive, but they suggest that the combination of physical and mental activity involved in gardening may have a positive influence on the mind.”

Gardening may make you happy via antidepressant microbes in the soil
According to a survey by Gardeners’ World magazine, 80 percent of gardeners reported being “happy” and satisfied with their lives, compared to 67 percent of non-gardeners. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that gardeners are happier.
Mycobacterium vaccae is a type of bacteria commonly found in soil, which people may ingest or inhale when they garden. Remarkably, this microbe has been found to “mirror the effect on neurons that drugs like Prozac provide.” It helps to stimulate serotonin production, helping to make you feel happier and more relaxed. No wonder so many people describe their garden as their “happy place.”
In one animal study, mice that ingested Mycobacterium vaccae had a demonstrated reduction in anxiety and improved learning. The researchers noted that natural exposure to microbes may be important for emotional health and behavior:
“Recent studies show that contact with tolerogenic microbes is important for the proper functioning of immunoregulatory circuits affecting behavior, emotionality and health […]
Collectively, our results suggest a beneficial effect of naturally delivered, live M. vaccae on anxiety-related behaviors… supporting a positive role for ambient microbes in the immunomodulation of animal behavior.”

Gardening helps you get grounded
There’s another way that gardening may help your mood and brain health, and that is grounding. The surface of the earth holds subtle health-boosting energy, and all you have to do to harness it is touch it. Walking barefoot on the earth transfers free electrons from the earth’s surface into your body that then spread throughout your tissues.
Grounding has been shown to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, improve sleep, and enhance your well-being.
Aside from increasing your sense of well-being and calm, keeping a garden can also improve your health by providing you with fresher, uncontaminated food; nutrient-dense food that is simply unavailable in your grocery store. It will also help you reduce your grocery bill. You don’t need vast amounts of space either.
Even apartment dwellers can create a well-stocked edible garden. You can use virtually every square foot of your space to grow food, including your lateral space. Hanging baskets are ideal for a wide variety of crops, such as strawberries, leafy greens, runner beans, pea shoots, tomatoes, and a variety of herbs. You can also grow sprouts like sunflower seeds and reap a harvest in 7-10 days.
And instead of flowers, window boxes can hold herbs, greens, radishes, scallions, bush beans, strawberries, chard, and chilies, for example. Just start small, and as you get the hang of it, add another container of something else. Before you know it, large portions of your meals could come straight from your own edible garden.

author: Dr. Mercola
Full article at: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/08/21/gardening-impacts-brain-health.aspx

Healing Herbs for Gardens

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Basil:
it is called the “king of herbs”. It is used medicinally as a natural anti-inflammatory and is thought to have mild antiseptic functions. Some healing uses are for flatulence, lack off appetite, nausea and cuts and scrapes.
Basil is an annual plant so you will have to start anew each year.

German Chamomile: Chamomile is one of the most popular herbs in the Western world. Its flower heads are commonly used for infusions, teas and salves. These in turn can be used to treat indigestion, anxiety and skin inflammations.
As a tea, it serves as a mild sedative to help with sleep.

Feverfew: The name feverfew comes from a Latin word meaning “fever reducer”.
This perennial is a member of the sunflower family and has been used for centuries in European folk medicine as a remedy for headaches, arthritis, and fevers.
Its many uses include easing headache pains – especially migraines. This is done by chewing on the leaves. A tea made from the leaves and flowers is said to relieve the symptoms of arthritis.

Lemon Balm: Lemon balm is a member of the mint family. Considered a calming herb, it has been used as far back as the Middle Ages to reduce stress and anxiety, promote sleep, improve appetite, and ease pain and discomfort from indigestion. Even before the Middle Ages, lemon balm was steeped in wine to lift the spirits, help heal wounds, and treat venomous insect bites and stings.
As with many other herbs in your healing garden, lemon balm promotes relaxation and a sense of calm.

Parsley: There is nothing like a sprig of parsley to take away bad breath. It is no wonder that this biennial (meaning it lives for two years) is used to decorate and garnish plates in the fanciest of restaurants.
When brewed as a tea, parsley can help supplement iron in a person’s diet, particularly for those who are anemic. Drinking parsley tea also boosts energy and overall circulation of the body, and helps battle fatigue from lack of iron.
Parsley tea fights gas and flatulence in the belly, kidney infections, and bladder infections. It can also be an effective diuretic.

Sage: The genus name for sage is “salvia” which means “to heal”. In the first century C.E. Greek physician Dioscorides reported that sage stopped bleeding of wounds and cleaned ulcers and sores. He also recommended sage juice in warm water for hoarseness and cough. In modern times, a sage tea is used to sooth mouth, throat and gum inflammations. This is because sage has excellent antibacterial and astringent properties.

Thyme: Back during medieval times, thyme was given to knights before going in to battle. The purpose was to infuse this manly man with vigor and courage.
These days, thyme used to relieve coughs, congestion, indigestion and gas. This perennial is rich in thymol, a strong antiseptic, making thyme highly desirable in the treatment of wounds and even fungus infections. Thyme is a perennial that does well, even in cooler, Pacific Northwest climates.

Rosemary: Long ago, rosemary was known as ‘the herb of remembrance.’ Even today, in places like Australia and New Zealand, it is used as a symbol of remembrance since it is known to help sharpen mental clarity and stimulate brain function.
You might recall that many statues of the ancient Greeks and Romans show men wearing sprigs of rosemary on their heads, signifying mental acuity.
The needles of the delightfully fragrant rosemary plant can be used in a tea to treat digestive problems. The same tea can also be used as an expectorant and as a relaxing beverage that is helpful for headaches. Other healing uses include improving memory, relieving muscle pain and spasms, stimulating hair growth, and supporting the circulatory and nervous systems.

Peppermint: Peppermint has a long tradition of medicinal use. Archaeological evidence places its use far back as ten thousand years ago. It is commonly used to soothe or treat symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, indigestion, irritable bowel and bloating.
The leaves and stems contain menthol which in addition to use medicinally, is used as a flavoring in food, and a fragrance in cosmetics. The plant is prolific, growing well in moist, shaded areas as well as in sunnier locations. The roots emit runners that can quickly overtake the garden so most gardeners prefer to plant peppermint in pots.

Lavender: A tea made from lavender has many uses with one of the foremost being it’s ability to have a calming effect on a person’s mind and body. To that end, lavender can promote a sense of well-being and alleviate stress. It is also useful for dealing with various gastrointestinal issues such as upset stomachs and flatulence.
Because it is a strong antiseptic, lavender tea, when applied topically, can help heal cuts, wounds and sores. It can also be used to mitigate bad breath.

How to Start
It depends mainly on the amount of space you have, the climate, and the availability of seeds, starts, or cuttings.
A recommendation is to start with three or four herbs that appeal to you from a healing perspective. Many can be grown in pots on a porch or deck so if space is a problem, you can start modestly.

How to Make an Herbal Tea
First bring some cool water to a boil. While waiting for the water to boil, fetch a non-mental container that will be used to brew the tea. A quart mason jar works nicely for this purpose. You do not want to use a metal container since the metal may interfere with the purity and taste of the tea.
Add 2 tablespoons of fresh (or 1 tablespoon of dried herb or crushed seed) to the empty pot or jar for each cup of water. Then, and this is the important part, add an extra 2 tablespoons of fresh (or 1 tablespoon of dried) herbs “for the pot”. So, for example, if you are making 2 cups of hot tea, you would use 6 tablespoons of fresh herbs or 3 tablespoons of dried herbs.
Pour the boiling water over the herbs and let them steep, covered, for about 5 minutes give or take. There is no exact time since everyone’s strength preference is difference. When ready, strain the herbs and pour the tea into a cup. At this point you may want to garnish your heavenly and healing cup of tea with honey, citrus fruits or addition herb sprigs.
For iced tea, increase the quantity of herbs in the basic recipe by 1 1/2 to allow for dilution from the melting ice.

author: Gaye Levy
original source: http://www.naturalblaze.com/2014/03/10-healing-herbs-to-grow-in-your.html

Eco-spirituality

MysticGaia-By-Krystleyez

Eco-spirituality is a new name for a set of ideas that goes back a long way.
Baruch Spinoza and Giordano Bruno both viewed the universe as divine. Their ideas were broadly pantheistic. The implications of the idea that the universe itself is divine are explored by Sam Webster, who prefers immediacy to immanence. The universe is a theophany, the manifestation of the Divine. The implication here is that everything is sacred, and we should take care of the Earth and other beings; we certainly don’t have dominion over them.
A common trope in Western views of reality is the idea that there is an underlying essence to everything, a pure state of being, and that everything else emanates from that. This is a very pervasive idea, from Plato’s concept of Ideal Forms, all the way to Cartesian dualism. Process theology was an attempt to correct this thinking; its basic premise is that everything is always changing. It also views the Divine as involved in the process of change, and developing as a result of the changes:
For both Whitehead and Hartshorne, it is an essential attribute of God to be fully involved in and affected by temporal processes, an idea that conflicts with traditional forms of theism that hold God to be in all respects non-temporal (eternal), unchanging (immutable), and unaffected by the world (impassible). Process theology does not deny that God is in some respects eternal, immutable, and impassible, but it contradicts the classical view by insisting that God is in some respects temporal, mutable, and passible.
As Pagans usually view our deities as neither infinite nor perfect, and many of us regard them as beings on their own spiritual journeys, this makes a lot of sense. Cyclicity and change are regarded as positive in Paganism, so process theology fits in well with that. Indigenous traditions also affirm that process and becoming are natural and inevitable; many indigenous American languages do not translate well into English, because English refers to everything as a fixed state (nouns), whereas they refer to everything as a process.
Gaia theology & theory affirms the idea of the Divine as living, and therefore changing. Gaea theology was developed by Oberon Zell-Ravenheart in 1970, independently of James Lovelock‘s better-known Gaia Theory. Oberon Zell-Ravenheart derived his ideas in part from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a Catholic palaeontologist and geologist. Both Zell and Lovelock regarded the Earth as Gaia, a living organism, and named the idea after the Greek Goddess Gaia.
According to James Kirchner there is a spectrum of Gaia hypotheses, ranging from the undeniable to radical. At one end is the undeniable statement that the organisms on the Earth have radically altered its composition. A stronger position is that the Earth’s biosphere effectively acts as if it is a self-organizing system which works in such a way as to keep its systems in some kind of equilibrium that is conducive to life. Biologists usually view this activity as an undirected emergent property of the ecosystem; as each individual species pursues its own self-interest, their combined actions tend to have counterbalancing effects on environmental change. Proponents of this view sometimes point to examples of life’s actions in the past that have resulted in dramatic change rather than stable equilibrium, such as the conversion of the Earth’s atmosphere from a reducing environment to an oxygen-rich one.
An even stronger claim is that all lifeforms are part of a single planetary being, called Gaia. In this view, the atmosphere, the seas, the terrestrial crust would be the result of interventions carried out by Gaia, through the coevolving diversity of living organisms.

Eco-spirituality embraces an ethic of non-violence and sustainability. Non-violence includes respect for life in all its manifestations (human, non-human, animal, vegetable and mineral); harmonious use of natural resources, with respect for the natural order and cycles of the environment, and development compatible with the ecosystem; and listening to Nature, not dictating to it. In Hinduism, non-violence is known as ahimsa. Sustainability means not using up or depleting the resources available, and maintaining the diversity of ecosystems. Reducing the diversity of an ecosystem, or doing something that creates an imbalance in it, upsets the food web (what eats what in a specific ecosystem).
A key idea in eco-spirituality is deep ecology, which advocates the inherent worth of living beings regardless of their usefulness to humans. Deep ecology argues that the natural world is a subtle balance of complex inter-relationships in which the organisms depend on each other for their existence within ecosystems. This philosophy was named “deep ecology” by Arne Næss in 1973. It is becoming increasingly apparent that a deep ecological approach is needed to ensure sustainability, biodiversity and the continued existence of the human species. Vandana Shiva writes:
“Deep ecological solutions are the only viable solutions to ensuring that every person on this planet has enough food, has enough water, has adequate shelter, has dignity and has a cultural meaning in life. If we don’t follow the path of living in ways that we leave enough space for other species, that paradigm also ensures that most human beings will be denied their right to existence. A system that denies the intrinsic value of other species denies eighty percent of humanity, their right to a dignified survival and a dignified life. It only pretends that is solving the problems of poverty, it is actually at the root of poverty. And the only real solution to poverty is to embrace the right to life of all on this planet, all humans and all species.”

Another important strand of eco-spirituality is eco-feminism, the idea that the exploitation of the Earth is symbolically linked to the domination of women, with talk of conquest, dominion, and so on; whereas respect for the Earth can be equated with respect for women. This is a big part of contemporary Goddess spirituality, and is obviously related to Gaia theology. In Ecofeminism (1993) authors Vandana Shiva and Maria Mies point out that modern science is not a universal and value-free form of knowledge, regarding the dominant scientific discourse as a projection of Western men’s values.
Another green precept is “Think global, act local“, the idea that before acting, we should look at consequences for the whole biosphere, as well as for the local environment. This is consistent with the Wiccan ethic “An it harm none, do what thou wilt”, which encourages us to look at the consequences of our actions. It also relates to the idea of spirit of place. The Romans honoured the genius loci, and the Greeks honoured the daemon (both terms mean ‘spirit of place’). This was the consciousness inhabiting wood and grove, tree and well, river and lake. Pagans have found that specific locations have a different atmosphere, a sense of presence. Christians have started to talk about ‘thin places’ – liminal places where the numinous can readily be encountered.
One of the things that keeps me Pagan is the importance of wildness. For me, this concept includes the erotic, the instinctive, the intuitive, a sense of connection to Nature, intimacy, freedom, and solitude. It also links in with deep ecology – the valuing of wild places and wild beings for themselves and not for their utility. An excellent book on the subject of reclaiming wildness is Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés, a Jungian psychotherapist and traditional storyteller.
Ancient cultures regarded the landscape itself as sacred, and devised sacred geography to describe it. This includes the concept of the four cardinal directions and their associated symbolism; the idea of the World Tree at the centre; and cosmologies with the heavens above, the underworld below, and the Earth in the middle.

author: Yvonne Aburrow
article source: www.patheos.com/blogs/sermonsfromthemound/2013/01/eco-spirituality-and-theology

Oneness & Spiritual Ecology

formandformless_krystleyez

The Interspiritual Age belongs to our awakening sense of an interconnectedness rooted in the deep awareness of the oneness to which we all belong. This knowing of the unity of being, of the divine oneness of which we are all an expression, has long been known to the mystic and spiritual practitioner, but now is awakening within the collective consciousness of humanity. We are moving from an era of separation into an era of oneness, an awareness of the unity and “interbeing” of all of creation, as expressed in the beautiful and numinous image of Indra’s Net from the Mahayana Buddhist tradition: “Here the universe is seen as an infinite net; wherever the threads cross there is a clear shining pearl that reflects and is itself reflected in every other pearl. Each pearl is an individual consciousness—whether of a human being, an animal, a plant, a cell or an atom—so a change in one pearl, however small, makes a change in all the other pearls, each one both singular and responsive to the whole.” (See Jules Cashford)

An essential part of this awakening into oneness and its living interconnectedness is an awareness of how we are an integral part of the ecosystem of the planet. We can no longer afford to live in a Newtonian era of separation that sees the Earth as something separate from our own selves, as a resource to be used and abused to support our materialistic, fossil-fuel driven lifestyle. Furthermore, the shift from a Newtonian world view to a one based upon the discoveries of particle physics suggests that not only our actions but also our consciousness directly effects the world of matter. We are part of this planet in ways we are only just beginning to understand.

As we stand at the edge of the abyss of climate change, species depletion and other effects of our continued ecocide, there is a vital need to make this shift into oneness: to relearn how to live in harmony with the whole with which we are so interconnected. We cannot afford to continue our present self-destructive behavior that is pushing us towards the “tipping point” of an ecological imbalance with unforeseeable global consequences.

Many people are responding to this crisis—individually and as groups, with ideas and actions—trying to bring our collective attention to our unsustainable materialistic lifestyle and the ways it is contributing to ecological devastation, accelerating pollution, and species depletion. And yet, sadly, much of this response still belongs to the mindset that has caused the imbalance: the belief that we are separate from the world, that it is something “out there,” a problem we need to solve.

In order to go to the source of our present predicament, we need to reclaim our awareness of the interconnection of spirit and matter. We cannot afford to remain in a consciousness that separates the physical and spiritual: we need to return to a knowing of their oneness and dynamic interrelationship. The emerging field of “Spiritual Ecology” seeks to explore this vital subject with a focus on the spiritual nature of our present predicament. We cannot begin to heal the world or return to a state of balance without a reawakening to the sacred nature of creation.

Within many religious faiths environmentalism is becoming an area of study and advocacy, emphasizing, for example, our role as stewards, or trustees, of God’s Earth. However while religiously-oriented environmentalism is grounded in scripture and theology, Spiritual Ecology is a more recent environmental movement that articulates the need for an ecological approach founded on spiritual awareness rather than religious belief. The individuals articulating this approach may have a religious background, but their ecological vision comes from their own lived spiritual experience. The difference between this spiritually-oriented ecology and a religious approach to ecology can be seen as analogous to how the Interspiritual Movement moves beyond interfaith and interreligious dialogue to focus on the actual experience of spiritual principles and practices.Spiritual Ecology similarly explores the importance of this experiential spiritual dimension in relation to our present ecological crisis.

The focus of this emerging movement is to bring our attention to the world as a living spiritual being which is now in distress. The earth is calling to us, sending us signs of the extremity of its imbalance through earthquakes and tsunamis, floods and storms, drought, and unprecedented heat. These are what Thich Nhat Hanh calls the “Bells of Mindfulness” awakening our awareness to where it is needed at this moment in time. We cannot afford to do our spiritual practice in isolation, in separation. It is not just about us, our own interior practice, but about the greater whole of which we are a part. We are needed to respond to the cry of the earth.
And although we should be aware of the predictions of scientists, the world is not a problem to be solved; it is a living being to which we belong. The world is part of our own self and we are a part of its suffering wholeness. Until we go to the root of our image of separateness there can be no healing. And this comes from far deeper than Newtonian science and the Age of Enlightenment, but lies in our forgetfulness of the sacred nature of creation, which is also our own sacred nature. When our Western monotheistic culture suppressed the many gods and goddess of creation, cut down the sacred groves and banished God to heaven, we began a cycle that has left us with a world destitute of the sacred, in a way unthinkable to any indigenous people. The natural world and the people who carry its wisdom know that the created world and all of its many inhabitants are sacred and belong together. Our separation from the natural world may have given us the fruits of technology and science, but it has left us bereft of any instinctual connection to the spiritual dimension of life—the connection between our soul and the soul of the world, the knowing that we are all part of one living, spiritual being.

It is this wholeness that is calling to us now, that needs our response. It needs us to reclaim our own root and rootedness: our relationship to the sacred within creation. Only from the place of sacred wholeness and reverence can we begin the work of healing, of bringing the world back into balance.
We cannot return to the simplicity of an indigenous lifestyle, but we can become aware that what we do and how we are at an individual level affects the global environment, both outer and inner. We can learn how to live in a more sustainable way, not be drawn into unnecessary materialism. We can also work to heal the spiritual imbalance in the world: our individual awareness of the sacred within creation reconnects the split between spirit and matter within our own soul and within the soul of the world. We are interconnected with the spiritual body of the earth more than we know.

We will each have our own way of living this connection, this primal mindfulness of our interbeing with the Earth. There is, for example, a simple prayer for the earth: the act of placing the world as a living being within our hearts when we inwardly remember the Divine. We become aware in our hearts of the sorrow and suffering of the world, and ask that divine love and healing flows where needed. That even though we continue to treat the world so badly, the power of the Divine will help us and help the world—help to bring the earth back into balance. We need to remember that the power of the Divine is more than that of all the global corporations which continue to make the world a wasteland, even more than the global forces of consumerism that demand the life-blood of the planet.

Sometimes it is easier to feel this connection when we feel the earth in our hands, when we work in the garden tending our flowers or vegetables. Or when we cook, preparing the vegetables that the earth has given us, mixing in the herbs and spices that provide flavor. Or making love, as we share our body and bliss with our lover, we may feel the tenderness and power of creation, how a single spark can give birth. Then our lovemaking can be an offering to life itself, a fully-felt remembrance of the ecstasy of creation.

The divine oneness of life is within and all around us. Sometimes walking alone in nature we can feel its heartbeat and its wonder, and our steps become steps of remembrance. The simple practice of ‘walking in a sacred manner’ in which with every step we take we feel the connection with the sacred earth is one way to reconnect with the living spirit of the earth.
There are so many ways to reconnect with the sacred within creation, to listen within and include the earth in our spiritual practice, in our awareness and daily life. Watching the simple wonder of a dawn can be an offering in itself. Or when we hear the chorus of birds in the morning we may sense that deeper joy of life and awake to its divine nature. While at night the stars can remind us of what is infinite and eternal within us and within the world. Whatever way we are drawn to wonder, to recognize the sacred, what matters is always the attitude we bring to this intimate exchange. It is through the heart that a real connection is made, even if we first make it in our feet or hands. Do we really feel how we are a part of this beautiful and suffering planet, sense its need? Then this connection becomes alive, a living stream that flows from our heart as it embraces all of life. Then every step, every touch, will be a prayer for the earth, a remembrance of what is sacred.

Our present ecological crisis is calling to us and it is for each of us to respond. There is action to be done in the outer world, but action that comes from a reconnection with the sacred—otherwise we will just be reconstellating the patterns that have created this imbalance. And there is work to be done within our hearts and souls, the foundational work of healing the soul of the world, of replenishing the spiritual substance of creation. This is an opportunity for humanity to reclaim its role as guardians of the planet, to take responsibility for the wonder and mystery of this world, for its sacred nature.
“The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope.” (Wendell Berry)

author: Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee
article source: http://www.workingwithoneness.org/articles/oneness-spiritual-ecology