We use the word “nature” to mean different things. What lives and moves in our bodies is nature, as well as what lives and moves outside in the forests and fields. Nature can also mean our psyche, and the different aspects within us that move, change, and have causes and effects, just like the weather outside. There is an inner and an outer aspect to nature.
Part of engaging the natural healing resources that are a part of our make-up is to begin to work with nature. Most of us intuitively know this; we take a walk in our neighborhood to calm down, we pause to appreciate the sunset or the movements of a wild animal. We feel better from these experiences of nature. We calm down. Human beings have always lived in nature, and until recently, our entire existence went hand-in-hand with the natural environment around us.
For most of human history, we have turned to nature for our medicine. We still do, though perhaps in a more indirect way. We can rebuild a more direct link to nature’s pharmacopeia. There are plants growing in the wild, in our gardens, available online, and at local shops that can help us. There are herb shops in Taos and even in El Rito, north of Questa, with excellent selections, good prices, and we can support local
small businesses! Our food can also help us cultivate a sense of well-being. Oats, for example, are one of the best nervines and can lower cholesterol—doctors prescribe it. It can be taken as a food, in teas, tinctures, or other herbal products. Nervines are plants that calm down the nervous system, and they really work!
Some of my other favorites are passion- flower, chamomile, and kava.
It’s amazing how varied our human experience can be! We can go from calm, cool, and contented into a rage, a panic attack, or a depression within the same day. Just like learning how to survive homesteading, all we need is to pay attention, notice the changes of the seasons, and learn from our experiences (and each other’s). We can pay attention and find how and where our actions can be enhanced, such as in the use of food and medicine, or in how we spend our time. I find a multi-level approach best suits; I’ll make a big pot of herbal tea, featuring the herbs mentioned above, before a very busy stressful week. I will prioritize long walks in the woods, or at least short runs with my dog.
I am still amazed at the effect a simple cup of tea or a calming tincture can have on how I feel. Taking pauses to check in to the weather of my own nature is usually all that is needed to find some repose. Well, if I act on it! Often, I need rest, so I lie down—sometimes just for 10 minutes, and I am revived. The same can be said for sitting by a stream, or in your garden, or strolling around Eagle Rock Lake.
We can’t predict what will happen in life, but we can at least support ourselves to get through however it makes us feel. I think part of why natural medicine—both in the common use of herbs, alternative therapies, etc., and also in the more spiritual use of the term to mean anything that helps our spirit—is often overlooked because it is subtle. Nature works on our emotions, on our feeling sense in our body in the moment. That may be just what is needed in these trying, challenging modern times. If we can attune our own subtle energies, directing our nature like we would a garden (some fertilizer here, some weeding there) we become increasingly equipped to handle the challenges and difficulties that come our way. This grace is our right; we just need to build our relationship to that which cultivates it.
What parts of our nature do we want to grow? What parts do we want to less- en? What actions, herbs, and food help us do so? These types of questions are what help us to work with our inner and outer natures, increasing our dynamic human capacity to remain well. It is a process, not a destination.