This has nothing to do with gardening, meditation or Buddha but….

Fro-yo!

Maybe it planted some beneficial bacterial in the soil that is my intestinal mucosa.

It’s mostly taro-flavored so maybe it helped ground me through the emotional tornado I was in when I got it.

Or, it could just be pretty fro-yo.

Either way, it was delicious. ๐Ÿ™‚

~*Photo credits to Anna Yancich, an embodiment of best friendship~*

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Wintrospection II – scaling back to the Naked, Cold Hard Truth

*This should’ve been posted shortly after January 1st, 2018 but I had trouble organizing & adding captions to all the photos. :/ So if you want to know what they’re photos of, please comment!

 

 

As my stomping grounds have been deeply frosted over for weeks, despite winter not beginning for five more days according to my 5-season indigenous calendar, I find myself also dropping back below the bustling canopy of work and sparse shrubbery of socializing all the way down into the yet unfrozen soil under the icy surface to the roots of my spiritual practice & true priorities. Like maintaining this blog. ๐Ÿ™‚

In the exuberance of summer and rush of activity through harvest season & autumn Me under the female ginko biloba tree whose leaves I used to make tincture. Sheโ€™s in full fruit! Well, it was Harvest season ;)Me & classmates Taryn(R) and Laura sifting out marshmallow seeds to save :) Kinda excited to grow my own!

I rather drifted from my path of contemplative practice. I learned a great deal from the first two days of Permaculture Design class that I attended, American ginger growing in the local forest garden started by Mangy, our teacher :)Poison ivy? I forget :/Soap nuts! You can literally pluck them off the bush and use them to wash stuff(!) Besides the plantain in the right corner I fPassionflower. Looks kinda crazy doesnโ€™t it :)the first year of Centro Ashรฉ’s Herbalism Apprenticeship, Three of the four tinctures I made, mostly in prep for cold & flu seasonGinko Biloba tincture, โ€œDrawing Oilโ€ and Morning glory flower essence :)Class flower essences soaking in the sunthe second level of Aromatherapy certification, Certificate from level 1My full set of essential oils plus the blends I made in class just below them. Iโ€™ve still got 7 case studies to start so contact me if youโ€™re interested in trying a blend or having one made specifically for your issue! :)and the Birth Doula course blew my mind (and sacral chakra :-s ) right open quite unexpectedly, From the baby-wearing class Learning the different positions a babyโ€™s head could be in as it descends into the birth canal :) Helps mother & her birth partner(s) decide which position(s) to get into to facilitate birthbut my meditation cushion remained undented. :/ Work started losing its luster, despite providing time to read sutras. Vimalakirti is the coolest bodhisattva from 2,500 years ago! ๐Ÿ˜œI needed to sit. Even the most fruitful garden needs time to die back or lay fallow, or simply be weeded sometimes. Winter is that time.
Instead of rushing to work because I can make more money when it’s cold out, I’m taking time to honor the energy of the season and strengthen my spiritual roots so I’ll be refreshed & ready to bud into action when the ice melts. Seeds all ready to g(r)o(w)!! :DMy garden plan for my back yard :DAnd maybe a little wiser about balancing my spiritual life with the rest of my life. โ˜บ๏ธ๐Ÿ™‚

Big hugs and Thank You’s to all who contributed photos to this post!~*Happy 2018!~*

Like Hawthorn tea for heartbreak…

Getting back to communing with plants through Centro Ashรฉ’s Community Herbalism Apprenticeship has shined into my life like a comforting embrace, just when I needed it most. 

Paloma the herb garden cat, basking in the sun’s embrace

Our first class started with a tea tasting, where we were asked to share where/how the energy in our bodies moved from sipping the tea, where we tasted it most on our tongues, and any other tea-related sensations we felt, no wrong answers. Then we would find out which tea it was. I felt a gentle refreshing sensation go up into my head, and a dark velvet triangle go down into my heart with each sip. I think the back of my tongue was where the flavor most lingered. Despite all my classmates’ guesses, it turned out to be hawthorn berry tea, good for tonifying the heart and circulatory system*. Good for tempering the angst of a broken heart, which I was really struggling with then.

The second day of class (where we tried peach leaf tea ๐Ÿ™‚ ) and the homework assignments have been similarly supportive, intriguing and perfectly timed. Like coming home. 

I’ve missed this. Excited for our next weekend of classes in a couple days. ๐Ÿ˜€


~*This post was originally drafted in early July 2017, but still relevant as our final weekend of Year 1 of the Herbal Apprenticeship is this weekend!!*~

Planting Seeds in Spring…

for a Harvest season harvest! ๐Ÿ™‚

Similar to my last extended gap between posts, I’ve been working outside of gardens (or meditation centers/contemplative programs for that matter :-|), earning a living by somewhat more traditional means. However this year, those more traditional means–along with being emotionally rewarding–have provided me with the funds to plant new seeds in my garden of grower’s/healer’s skills! ๐Ÿ™‚ By the end of this year I will be a certified aromatherapist, a certified doula, certified in permaculture design and have completed the first year of a community herbalism apprenticeship! ๐Ÿ˜€ These are all skills/experiences/delights that I’ve wanted for years but previously couldn’t afford or didn’t have the time or energy for, usually because I was trying painfully & to no avail to ground myself in conventional activities like 9-5 jobs, romantic relationships, college, etc.–see previous post about it. But now that I’ve got work that supports my tumbleweed-ish ideal lifestyle, I can study all the holistic-healing, sustainable-growing, “granola-head” modalities I want, so I am! ๐Ÿ˜€

My latest healing education began with the essentials–essential oils that is, via an aromatherapy certification course in April in the gorgeously Great Smoky Mountains(!) lead by experts from Natural Options Aromatherapy.

Uncovered uncut gemstones

the precious stones that arose when I went diggin’ at a local gem mine; lots of amethyst– a healing stone ๐Ÿ˜‰

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cameltoe strawberry from the local strawberry patch

  
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My new favorite “naughty” fruit

. I chose Natural Options because their courses are comprehensive, teaching students how to make their own blends for specific ailments as well as requiring case studies be done proving the efficacy of our blends before receiving full certification. ๐Ÿ™‚ I love experiments! That being the case, it’s taken me until early June to get all three of my required case studies started ๐Ÿ˜… and I still have some untested blends I made during the course that I’d love to share and test! Select one below and email me [ healjourner@yandex.com ] your mailing address to see for yourself: 

This blend is designed to promote deeper meditation when diffused during a session

Blended to ameliorate rheumatoid arthritis when massaged on affected joints

This roll-on should soothe joints affected by gout

This roll-on is designed to help heal osteoarthritis when applied to affected areas

This roll-on is blended to alleviate symptoms of menopause when applied to pulse points or meridian tapping points

Sore back massage anyone? :p

A cream blended to soothe aching muscles wherever applied

If you’re wondering why I made so many blends for arthritic pain, I was inspired by loved ones. (And the blend for depression I made works so well I’m keeping it for myself! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Most of all though, I’m relishing this opportunity to get to know some of my favorite herbs better. Speaking of herbs, the first year of the Community Herbal Apprenticeship at Centro Ashรฉ starts in August! I’ve already started working in the herb garden there, meeting/weeding around more healing plants than I’ve known before: 

Like these prickly tender teasles that help heal from lyme ๐Ÿ™‚

And of course, nettles. Can’t have a healing herb garden without’em.

Marshmallow in bloom! How much of this herb do you think is in the puffy cylinder sweet?

Just before and in tandem with that apprenticeship I will begin the Birthkeepers Apprenticeship,

Beautiful

learning to holistically cultivate human babies instead of plant babies and enlightenment. ๐Ÿ˜€ Although becoming a doula has little to do with gardening or mindfulness, the birthing process is something I’ve always been curious about. I’m not the type to let mysteries stay mysterious. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Also overlaping my apprenticeships will be a permaculture design certification course that I’m really looking forward to led by a man who calls himself “Mangy”. ๐Ÿ™‚ Sounds like a man who knows the wilderness well, despite being an urbanite. 

Even though these are all very distinct courses, each one employs concepts or tools from the others: aromatherapy during labor & with infants will be explored during the doula/birthkeepers apprenticeship; permaculture protocols are used in our herb garden classroom; gardening with littles & making herbal remedies for colic will be shared in the herbal apprenticeship, and I’m sure there are other examples of how all I’m learning this year is tied into the same knot of wisdom. All in all, I’ll close the year with a greater understanding of life on Earth, making it easier to be at peace, grounded and feel at home while living rather rootlessly. ๐ŸŒฌ๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿ‰ Come tumble along through these nature schools with me!



Doing some gardening yourself and want a ‘bug off’ essential oil blend? Let me know. ๐Ÿ™‚


~*A deep, grateful bow to Chelsea Allinger for introducing Centro Ashรฉ to me and cooling me down last summer.*~

Falling back to my roots: Sangha as soil, sutras as sunlight

As grounding as getting my hands in the earth is,ย my true ground is in the Dharma. So like the autumn leaves when temperatures (and so many people ๐Ÿ˜ฆ ) drop, I dropped back to my cushion to meditate mostly in silence for 28 days straight–aka a dathรผn or “moon session” retreat. My regular meditation practice had fallen off in October so by December I was really buzzing with discursive thoughts and distracting habits. I really needed toย . Besides, the gardens I had worked in were being put to rest for the winter or awaiting new management. There was really nothing better to do; and what better way to prepare for the new year? ๐Ÿ™‚

As is usually the case when I do longer meditative/contemplative retreats, I had some personally profound realizations that needed a bit more than chants, sitting & incense to work through.

Enter the loving light of sutras! ๐Ÿ™‚ Andย other Buddhist texts. Being in a dathรผn, I turned to them when anxiety gave way to depression instead of my previous habits for coping. And like the sun does in early spring, sutra by sutra my heart began to thaw and the clouds of confusion cleared away just in time for 2017. ๐Ÿ™‚

This healing introspection was also gratefully supported by the rich soil of a former sanghamate’s sweet houseย and bodhi-cats. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Just in time for my sanity(!) ๐Ÿ˜›

Bodhi-cat Maddie on the cushion during one of my breaks

So although the gardens of life may die back in winter, our roots keep growing. Especially in the fertile medium of a dathรผn pot.


Eternal gratitude to 84000.co for translating so many Buddhist texts into English and helping me stay on the path in joy.

Spoiled

I realized recently,

Photo credits to Phil Agar

I’ve been spoiled. Just as these sexually matured lettuce plants are spoiled for harvesting lettuce from, I’m pretty spoiled for mismanaged growing operations. The organizational situation around my organic gardening apprenticeship didn’t quite have every T crossed or every I dotted, but it was organized well enough to over-deliver without burning off people’s goodwill, creating an abundance of waste or cultivating much bitterness. That, and the incredibly rich soil totally spoiled me for working with much less. The soil was so rich and aerated, freshly prepped unplanted beds felt like overflowing tubs of dark chocolate mousse!

In my realization of being spoiled by a well-kept garden, I also realized that the environment surrounding the garden, also known as its container, matters a whole lot. Maybe more than anything else.

Pots matter.

My garden apprenticeship was hosted at a meditation retreat center, which set a contemplative, considerate tone/container for work and learning in the garden. I think that kind of growing medium spoiled me some for the less loamy ones I’ve encountered since then. “Less loamy” meaning less well organized. The clay-packed, stony, “time-capsule” soils I’ve been working with in and around DC don’t get me down until/unless I find out they’re not being cared for as well as they could. Basically, I’m up for the hard work of building a garden from scratch, but I have to be able to see the plan or vision for the garden and what steps organizers want to take to realize their plan.

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Remember this? Every garden could use a crop plan of some sort

Luckily I’ve found a local growing operation with a clear plan and plowable course to help cultivate: ecufaquaponics

as well as the opportunity to study aquaponics in urban agriculture. It’s almost like being an apprentice again. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ll never be too spoiled for that.


Wondering what a “time capsule” soil is? Feeling spoiled? Comment below!

And check out the above kilted man’s blog at https://axisofcharacter.wordpress.com as he heads out into the world to tend unspoiled gardens too.

Family, Karma, Plants & People

I’ve debated writing this post for about a month now, as I don’t want to turn this blog into a soapbox, but I do want to share this perspective and get some feedback and there’s only one way to do that so, …here goes. Please forgive me if ideas presented here seem only nebulously connected. ~*

While getting my hands dirty planting applebaby and harvesting greens, I also spent much of this August cultivating my (human) family tree, attending a family reunion and discovering connections I hadn’t known of previously. In my dharma studies, one thing I’ve become more and more acutely aware of is that as my family grows and evolves, so does the extent of my shared/co-created karma. And as that awareness grows, so does my awareness of the karma I share with all beings, including those I eat. Oh how I love good food! ๐Ÿ˜€

click photo to watch!

Some months ago I (gratefully) got to see the above TED talk, scientifically proving something I’ve known all my life and that indigenous cultures have known since the dawn of humanity: trees (& other plants) talk to each other. In light of this, I feel less crazy admitting that trees also talk to me. Don’t worry, I respond, I don’t ignore them–that would be disrespectful just like it is with people. The apple trees I’ve helped raise are the children I’ll never have. I love them like family and I know they care about me. So I personally have never doubted that plants (like animals) are sentient beings. Yet, many Buddhists do. Coupled with beliefs that killing sentient beings in order to feed oneself creates bad karma, the belief that plants aren’t sentient turns vegetarianism and its stricter offshoots into ideal diets. But what if, as science now proves, plants are communicating with each other because they’re just as sentient as us? Then what’s a good-karma cultivating person to eat? And what does all this have to do with having plants in my family? Who wants to eat their relatives? ๐Ÿ˜› 

Suddenly, thinning seedlings seems eugenics-esque :-[

 Well honestly, I do. It’s precisely because I know that plants and animals are sentient that I want to eat them. Only sentience can nourish sentience. And believing this–acknowledging all beings as part of my extended sentient family–also nourishes my sense of respect and gratitude for the lives I ingest, as well as those that might or will ingest me (when I die). Basically, recognizing plants’ and other faceless beings’ sentience helps put the circle of life back into proper perspective (by re-including the “I’s”–ourselves), which Buddhist principles encourage us to do anyway.

What of my murderous karma then? Since I see my food as extended family and believe that intention is an integral part of action/karma, I consider my karma stemming from the quality of my interactions. Have I been respectful of this being’s life? Am I demonstrating my respect &/or gratitude? How best can I do that in this moment/circumstance? I believe considering these questions for all my relations–edible and huggable alike–better determines the quality of karma I create than my diet. I could be totally wrong though. ๐Ÿ™‚

What do you think? Are you willing to eat fellow sentient beings? Grateful even? Think I’m crazy or gone too far? Let me know in comments below!