Mother Earth Medicine

April is usually a hiking month for me somewhere on this beautiful planet, but not this year as I stay indoors in isolating due to the pandemic, but it makes me appreciate and value nature even more.  Hiking has always been a way for me to feel whole.  Mother earth heals body, mind and spirit.  there is no medicine more powerful than nature.

Today being Earth Day, we celebrate our beautiful planet in isolation. This year is different as we are forced to slow down and reflect on how we impact our world.  With restrictions on materialism and consumerism, many of us are spending time in nature at home, gardening, cooking and observing.

Today I want to celebrate Earth Day with everyone in isolation by challenging you to plant some seeds, hug a tree, take a walk, watch the birds or squirrels and say thank you.

We all live on one planet.  Let’s celebrate it, take care of it and keep it alive.

Tea Meditation

“You must be completely awake in the present to enjoy the tea.
Only in the awareness of the present, can your hands feel the pleasant warmth of the cup.
Only in the present, can you savor the aroma, taste the sweetness, appreciate the delicacy.
If you are ruminating about the past, or worrying about the
future, you will completely miss the experience of enjoying the cup of
tea.
You will look down at the cup, and the tea will be gone.
Life is like that.
If you are not fully present, you will look around and it will be gone.
You will have missed the feel, the aroma, the delicacy and beauty of life.
It will seem to be speeding past you. The past is finished.
Learn from it and let it go.
The future is not even here yet. Plan for it, but do not waste your time worrying about it.
Worrying is worthless.
When you stop ruminating about what has already happened, when
you stop worrying about what might never happen, then you will be in the
present moment.
Then you will begin to experience joy in life.”

Written by one of my favorite spiritual leaders, teachers, and authors, Thich Nhat Hanh.

I was recently searching for the perfect teacup and found it unexpectedly from a colleague of mine who made it at St. John’s University (photo above).

Now I savor every mindful sip.

 

Psychology of Tea

I met Dr. Dave several years ago when our paths crossed while working in the field of mental health. Recently he offered to mail me some herbal tea that he had grown in his garden. Being a tea lover, I was interested in his background and personal history of herbal teas.

“For me, growing tea allows me to reflect on my family and our history. As a child, I remember being at my grandparent’s resort, smelling the chamomile and rosehip tea that my grandmother Rose harvested each year. She would explain the benefits of these exotic and foreign teas with love, passion, and excitement, sharing that chamomile was used by the Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians to sooth the muscles, calm the nerves, and promote sleep. Now I know that Chamomile is used for many different ailments including my grandmother’s list, but also to help with diabetes, fight against diseases such as cancer, and aids the digestive system. My grandmother loved rosehip tea and would patiently wait for the flowers and pods to dry. “This tea”, she informed me, “Helps make you feel better and has 50% more vitamin C than an average orange, and contains vitamin D, E, and K.”

It wasn’t just about the tea for me, as much as it was about the time I spent connecting to such a wonderful and loving person in my life. I still have fond memories of processing, harvesting, and drying the tea and sharing a warm aromatic cuppa with my grandmother.

I once read a quote by Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, “If you ask Zen people they will say that tea is something that you pour with unawareness and drink like any other drink. It is not a drink, it is meditation; it is prayer. So they listen to the kettle creating a melody, and in that listening, they become more silent more alert.”

“For me, the entire process of relaxing has taught me patience, as it is processed, just as change is a process. My life used to be a daily borage of seeing patients, answering phone calls and writing notes, with little time left for myself. By creating a space to heal, grow and slow down, I have changed.”

Dr, Dave said that he has traveled to many exotic and remote locations in the world, including Egypt, Israel, and Europe, where he had the opportunity to taste and sample many different teas and coffees and learned that tea is a staple in many cultures.

Dr. Dave reported that he used to be a coffee drinker, but about ten years ago he developed acid reflux. He noticed that after drinking coffee, he would wake up in the middle of the night with horrific acid reflux. Dr. Dave said he tried to cure the symptoms with Rolaids, but eventually went to the doctor who prescribed medication for the condition unsuccessfully, so he stopped drinking caffeine and went back to his family roots, drinking Chamomile and Rose Hip tea, which improved his symptoms.  He also began exploring other teas including ginger and mint, which both have been reported to help aid in digestive problems.

Dr. Dave was asked if he incorporates herbal teas into his work with patients.

“Yes, I have dealt with a number of individual’s who have significant anxiety that is ramped up with caffeine. Each person has his or her own journey, and sometimes it’s not about just making mental changes.  I have noticed as a person begins to change, they make changes in other areas of their lives such as spiritually or physically. Many people struggle with sleep disorders, so I encourage them to reduce caffeine intake, as this allows sleep difficulties to ease.

“I have been an individual that has dealt with depression and anxiety since childhood. It’s not easy, but through support and making changes in my own life, I have become more resilient when dealing with issues and problems. Alcohol was used as a way for me to cope, but I can say that through the support of my family, friends, and programs available, I have been able to develop other coping skills. Tea is something that allows me to escape for an hour with a good book, a friend, or through gardening. My grandmother offered a sense of comfort and love for me which is far better than a drink at this point in my life,” Dr. Dave said  “As Audrey Hepburn once said, “When you have nobody you can make a cup of tea for, when nobody needs you, that’s when I think life is over.”

“Life has been a journey over the past several years.  Just like tea, as a detox, I have detoxed my life and made my life simpler and less chaotic. I have eliminated people, places and things that have caused me to live in fear and shame. While this has not been easy, it has been a journey that has allowed me to show up and be present with people who are meaningful to me. I have been in the field of mental health for over 25 years, working in both the public and private sectors. My current work focuses on coaching, writing, speaking, traveling and creating workshops on professionals in recovery.”

Dr. Dave’s story is an important reminder of how the simple act of drinking tea can benefit us psychologically, physically and spiritually.

Each day I have a mindful cup of herbal tea.  It gives me a break from my daily routine and brings a sense of calm to my day.

Time for a tea break!

 

Wild Foods

On a recent hiking trip through the forest, I came across a patch of wild blackberries.  They provided me with a tasty afternoon snack.  It’s not the first time I have eaten berries off the bush.

Someone once asked me if I was worried about animals peeing on them.  Although possible, I usually eat the berries off the top of the bush, so if a deer had urinated on them, it would have to have been really tall.  Anyway, that question led me to think about how we are so conditioned to buying food in plastic wrap and under florescent lighting that we don’t think about all the chemicals, pesticides and hormones that are in what we perceive as “safe foods”.

What happened to eating raw and wild?

So far this year, I have found and eaten wild asparagus, raspberries and mushrooms.  I have also snacked on a local plum tree.  When living in Florida, I picked and ate a pineapple that was growing alongside a swimming pool.  The pineapple was warm, full of flavor, and tasted like sunshine.

Animal pee over pesticides?  I will continue to snack on natures goodies any day!

The World of Herbs

The White Mountains of Arizona are full of wild natural plants to brew herbal teas or to make healthy herbal remedies.  The Apache use native plants to treat ailments of all kinds for a variety of health reasons. Research indicates that approximately sixty percent of the medicines we use today come from native herbs.  Caffeine free herbal teas are now commonly consumed for a variety of symptoms including insomnia, digestive issues, hormonal issues, and to enhance memory and mood.

I love herbal tea, and living in the White Mountains has opened up a whole new herbal experience for me, where I can try a variety of new teas and herbal remedies that were not available to me in other parts of the country.

I recently began to search the mountainside for my own blend of herbal teas, thanks to a couple of experienced guides who help me identify native plants.  I can also buy bulk teas at Sunshine Herbs, a natural, holistic shop that sells teas and herbs to the local folk in Show Low, Arizona.

One of my favorite blends is “DeStress Tea, a combination of chamomile, hops, oat straw, peppermint, and passionflower.  The combination of organic plants creates a peace and calm and is a great way to end the day.

When life gives you lemons, make tea!

 

24 Hours in Asheville

Traveling solo, I recently spent 24 hours in Asheville, NC.  Not sure what to do alone, I contemplated several options, but then came across, “Asheville Wellness Tours”, and thought that would be an interesting way to spend an afternoon.

Asheville Wellness Tours provided several alternative experiences including the art of tea drinking, essential oil and herb making, meditation in a beautiful salt cave, sound therapy with gongs and Tibetan bowls, and honey tasting at a local specialized shop.

The tour began with a 45-minute session at Asheville Salt Cave, a golden womb-like cave filled with beautiful pure pink salt crystals.  We were lead into meditation as we rested on pillows and bolsters on the salt covered floor, listening to sounds of the waterfall, breathing in negatively charged ions, turning inward and away from the chaos of the external world around us.

Following the salt cave, we walked to Skinny Beats Sound Shop and was lead into a sound healing session with gongs and Tibetan bowls that took us on a vibrational journey that was beyond words to describe. I was given a “taster” of sound healing that I knew I would have to return to.

Next, we were given an introductory explanation of herbs and essential oils at herbiary, which offers natural remedies for every kind of alignment imaginable, including emotional and psychological disorders.

From the herbiary, we walked to Asheville Bee Charmer, for honey tasting, where I was given several different types of honey to try, including sage honey, a favorite of mine.

Lastly, we ended the tour at Dobra Tea, where we shared in Japanese style, “Clear Communication Tea.”  This tea was reported to promote clear communication with our inner self, exactly what I needed! The Wellness Guide explained that the tea ceremony involved inhaling the aroma, before tasting the tea, and encouraged us to share an authentic wellness intention that we wanted to incorporate into our daily lives.

The tea ceremony was a perfect ending to an adventurous day in self-exploration and holistic wellness.  My guide was an inspirational and enthusiastic yoga instructor who did a wonderful job guiding me through the city and sharing all that Asheville has to offer.

When the tour finished, we parted ways, and I decided to explore the streets of Asheville on my own.  Quite unexpectedly, I came across an interesting young man sitting on the street writing poetry.

Ben was plucking away on his vintage typewriter.  A sign, “NAME A WORD or TOPIC.  GET A POEM”, hung from his table. Being a creative writer myself, I couldn’t resist. I contemplated what word to select, and finally decided on the word “therapy.”

Ben sat in silence for a few moments, and then inserted a piece of paper into his old typewriter and began typing.  Once in awhile, he would stop to ponder, rubbing his head in contemplation. Ben was oblivious to the ongoing foot traffic of people that were walking past him as he pounded away on his typewriter, lost in a world of words.  After about 10 minutes, Ben completed my poem and asked if he could read, “Therapy” to me.

I was amazed at how insightful and creative the poem was, especially considering that it had been written on the spot. Ben’s poem touched upon the heaviness we can carry in life, referring to our emotional pains, and “to unpack the boxes long locked-up.” (poem below)

After reading my poem, Ben told me that he had been in San Francisco years ago, and had traded a book for a Lynn Gentry poem. Ben was busking for his upcoming wedding, which explained another sign he had, “Wedding Funds”.  I thanked Ben for his creative, insightful poem, and thought how clever he was, using his gifts and talents in a way that inspired other people.

Asheville has a lot to offer in terms of the unique, alternative, or creative. If you’re looking to explore Asheville, check out Asheville Wellness Tours, who offers several options including hiking the Blue Ridge Mountains, followed by Yoga, and if you have a love for words or poetry, don’t forget to look for Ben, who can be found in front of Woolworths, on Haywood Street.

Links:

Asheville Wellness Tours

https://www.ashevillewellnesstours.com

Ben is starting his own upcoming blog:

Strangers Poems Project

 

T H E R A P Y

Sit within a circle

& spin a thread of narrative–

 

we are here to help you

with the heavy lifting—

 

to unpack boxes long locked-up,

to turn & turn each artifact

 

over in our hands, to examine

without judgment each dog-earned page

 

within the books that weigh

so much. trust is a rope ladder

 

which we are still building,

you hold it from the top & choose

 

when it’s to be lowered. but human

help comes with limitations. take

 

the next train west & sit among

the redwoods. five hundred years

 

of listening unmarred by loose lips.

we wait & learn the craft of patience

by example.

Soul Motion

A SACRED JOURNEY OF MUSIC, MOVEMENT AND SOUL

Sacred travelers can hear the call of faraway places and distant lands, and we love the experience that international travel brings.  Our senses come alive in the spice markets of Marrakesh, our lungs fill with crisp mountain air in places like Tibet or Zanskar, and our bodies are refreshed in the rainforests of Costa Rica.  As a person who intentionally seeks international travel and beautiful places, I am always planning my next trip.  Quite unexpectedly one day, I found myself not on an outer journey to a remote and exotic land, but instead, on an inner journey of body, mind, and spirit.  It was called, “Soul Motion” and Mark Ensweiler was my guide.

Mark has been in the healing arts for over 35 years and has an impressive background as a Board Certified Licensed Chiropractor, Certified Yoga Instructor, and Certified Soul Motion Teacher.  When asked about Soul Motion, Mark said, “I continue to find these wonderful “conscious dance/movement” practices to be an ongoing way to support healing, creativity, (movement & seated) meditation, and inspiration in my own life and it’s a great way to share meaningful time with others as well in a supportive group setting.  Each individual Soul Motion class is complete unto itself and yet there are a wide variety of “practices” that can be experienced in a class and this is the beauty of Soul Motion.”

An average session will last approximately 75 minutes, as Mark skillfully guides you through a variety of music, and at times will instruct you to connect to specific areas of your body.  Most of the journey is freeform, with no talking; an inner journey for you to solely take.  There are no limitations as you follow your breath and let your body move in ways that it needs, as it releases old stagnant energy, aches and pains and everyday stressors.  The diversity of music allows you to choose your own movement whether it is slow, standing still, or dancing wildly.  Each piece of music is carefully selected by Mark and includes a mix of international vibes, spiritual tunes and a crescendo of notes that takes you on an inner journey that is uniquely individual and yours alone to take.

Music has been well known to a be a potent healer for people in a variety of ways.  Music soothes the spirit in difficult times and lifts the spirit in times of celebration.  Movement is also recognized as an important element of healing, and when you combine music and movement, you have a powerful combination of personal expression.

If you are seeking a new experience, want to connect more deeply with yourself, or simply love music and movement, take a trip through Soul Motion.  There is no greater journey than one to know your authentic self…

Mark is offering an upcoming series, “Soul Motion Movement Meditation”; sessions begin this fall at Dance Dynamics in Plover.

For more information about Mark or Soul Motion, please contact him at:

msensweiler@gmail.com

For more information about Soul Motion, or its creator, Vinn Arjuna Martí contact:

http://soulmotion.com/