Friday, July 15, 2016

Sometimes, nature itself is the remedy

“Our bodies are mirrors of mother nature.
Mother nature is the mirror of our inner nature.
In that way each of us are our own best doctors.”
– Roman Hanis, Medicine Man

When I was a young girl I lived in the last house on a dead end street next to a ball field and large wooded area.  There were no other kids my age in the neighborhood and I would amuse myself by walking in the woods alone any time of year, all hours of the day and sometimes even into the evening.  This would be unheard of today.  My mother said that I would leave early and come home late. When she washed my clothes, bugs and sticks and various yucky things would float to the surface. 

Not only did I feel at home in the forest, I felt protected there.  I learned a lot about nature and animals and myself.  Once I cut my hand and was bleeding.  I didn’t want to cut short my wanderings by returning home for a band aid.  I turned instead to what I could find.  There was a plant with long narrow leaves.  I broke off one wrapped it around my hand like a bandage and continued exploring.  The bleeding stopped in a short while and after a few hours I looked at my hand.  Not only had my bleeding stopped, the cut had started to scab.  As young as I was, I knew then that the forest held many remedies. No one told me and I would have to find them for myself. 
Fast forward to now, some 58 years later, and we are well aware that the rain forests, often referred to as Nature’s Medicine Cabinet, contain plants from which medicines are derived.  Some 120 prescription drugs sold worldwide today are known to contain ingredients derived directly from rain forest plants. According to the U.S. National Cancer Institute, more than two-thirds of all medicines found to have cancer-fighting properties come from rain forest plants. Examples abound. Ingredients obtained and synthesized from a now-extinct periwinkle plant found only in Madagascar (until deforestation wiped it out) have increased the chances of survival for children with leukemia from 20 percent to 80 percent.
Since I've retired, I have immersed myself in learning various energy healing techniques and I apply them to others and to myself. I use stones, crystals and oils in my healing work. I have stopped my twice daily asthma inhaler (I still keep my emergency inhaler, just in case, but don't use it) and also my blood pressure medicine.  As I told my cardiologist, “If I am going to talk the talk, I should walk the walk.” 

At age 67 my blood pressure is normal and besides an occasional Claritin, I feel pretty healthy.  My doctor says I look great on paper.  Though I am plagued by several back and hip issues that incapacitate me at times, I am trying now to apply natural healing techniques to those also.  There are herbs that are anti-inflammatory and relieve pain. 

During a shamanic journey to the Upper World to find out how I could lessen my pain, I found my Teacher and asked for pain relief.  She led me to a garden.  I knew I was shown that pain relief was contained in that garden.  I searched for flower essences that would help me.  It turns out that essence of the flower “impatiens” was used in the 1930’s in the place of morphine.  I use it myself.  Turmeric is also a natural anti-inflammatory. 

I am weaning myself off my regular meds as we speak after receiving 2 shots in my spine. I am involved in physical therapy and discovered the pain I thought required a joint replacement can be ameliorated with stretching and exercise.  Over the long range, I hope to regain most of the mobility I have lost.  I am on the way there.  
I have used various herbs to encourage dreaming, a shamanic practitioner's window to the future.  That practice has led me to want to learn more about herbs. I attended a class taught by a local herbalist named Nathaniel Whitmore.  His knowledge is impressive.  I would recommend his writings and classes on using natural herbs to cure all sorts of illness.  He is local to me and I can attend these classes easily, but he is not the only herbalist out there.  A Google search can turn up similar persons local to your area.  

I recommend attending a class.  He has started a trend here called “forest bathing”.  Known as Shinrin-yoku, it was recognized in Japan in 1982 as a way to counter stress and fight degenerative illnesses such as heart disease. It’s like sunbathing.  All you need to do is find a forest or a park with some trees and wander around enjoying “sensory experiences”.   Views of a stream, the sounds of birds, the changing smells, textures and tastes all comprise the experience.  Two-hour sessions are suggested. 

Concrete benefits of forest bathing are still being researched, but a study by Japan's Nippon Medical School and Chiba University explains that trees emit organic compounds called phytoncides, which may have a profound impact on your immune system markers long after a forest bathing session. More positive effects could include lowering blood pressure and cortisol levels.  When I practiced law, I looked forward to my weekend trail rides in the Ramapo Mountains on my black horse.  I detoxed during those rides in the mountains and returned to work ready for another grueling work week. I knew those all day trail rides on my horse, did both my body and mind good.

For anyone that wishes to follow up on the nature/healing nexus, there is an online course that you can take called Secrets ofthe Ancient Healers.  Nick Polizzi and Shannon Kring traveled the Americas to bring you indigenous plant medicine traditions, sacred foodstuffs, and herbal remedies that bridge ancient wisdom and the modern world. The course includes a video that tracks 8 people afflicted with a variety of serious ailments seeking shamanic cures in the jungles of South America.  Very interesting and with a twist in the end. Hint: 8 people go into the jungle and 7 return.  There is a cookbook and a reference book concerning many herbs and their uses. 

My monthly drum circles around an open bonfire are also great for relaxation.  We meditate make a lot of noise, chant and sing.  Good company and the natural surroundings make it an inexpensive foray into Forest Bathing. The list of dates can be found on my website: 

Vera's Rave'n - The many aspects of Shamanism

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