Archive for the ‘Wellness’ Category
The old African-American spiritual hymn was playing in my head, “There is a Balm in Gilead,” and I stopped to listen. My friend, Honor Woodard, once told me of her practice to notice the songs that pop into her head. Since then, I, too, have paid attention, and instead of the song being background noise, it takes on great meaning like exploring a dream as a gift from the subconscious.
It was a lovely day in December with a clear, Robin-egg blue sky, and a breeze with a tint of warm. I had a to-do list, and mid-way through, I decided to surprise my trusted 4-legged companion, Fay, with a visit to The Pocket. The winter-scape provides a beautiful time to be in nature and to listen.
The Pocket Trail is a sacred and protected place for life to live. It’s one of those places whose air emanates a refuge like a great sigh of relief. Throughout the seasons, I’ve been to this place with Fay, with companions, and while leading large groups. Each time, I’m enchanted by the sound of the water and birds; I’m held in the womb of the rock; I’m seen by the trees and herbs; and I’m healed by breathing in the enriched air.
Sitting on a rock by the waterfall, Fay leaning against my side, I noticed that old spiritual hymn in my mind. By paying attention to the lyrics, I heard this deeply felt connection of healing I had with this place through words sung in suffering. I sat until the song played out, my mind went still and the silent mind could receive the place. The sun had lowered, and December’s chilled air motivated me to say good-bye for now; I’ll carry the healing with me.
Fay and I started our slow walk back along the creek, but before we left, I stopped to hear the song of the beech trees rustling in the breeze.
This winter, my hope for all folks is to find a moment of quiet stillness, to be silent enough to deeply listen. Peace be with you.
Ethnomusicology sources helped me to see layers of meaning in this beautiful song. *Thank you Honor Woodard
I’m on West Virginia radio tomorrow for the Highway to Health show with Dave Hawkins, 9:15am. It’ll be available at http://www.motherearthworks.com/ immediately after the show.
Herbal Help for Mood Disorders
Therapeutic herbs are used worldwide to relieve anxiety, depression and a host of other mood disorders. Healthy Dave is joined by registered herbalist and psychotherapist Holli Richey to discuss a natural approach to therapy using herbs, psychotherapy and stress management practices designed to help the whole person – body, mind and spirit.
Please call in to (304) 422-3154 at 9:15 AM EST.
Lotsa Hoop-La happening on Main Street, Chattanooga, TN this Saturday, Dec 7th. Including the GRAND OPENING of Center on Main, a healing center for Center of Integrative Medicine, Center MedSpa and Center Physical Therapy. The ribbon-cutting ceremony with Mayor Andy Berke is at 12:30. Events at Center on Main include: Ask the Experts Panels, Tai Chi, Zumba, and talks on Acupuncture, Herbs, Spa Treatments, and Gluten-Free Living. Events coincide with the annual festivities of MainX24 Event, which has hundreds of fun experiences all along Main Street for 24 hours.
There will be teas to sample for colds, coughs, and holiday stress relief. Also, you may stock up on liquid extracts for dealing with allergies, cold, flu and coughs. All will be available this weekend.
Our new location address is:
320 E. Main Street, Suite 200
Chattanooga, TN 37408
Our brand new building, a beautiful labor of love, is a LEED Certified building located across from the Wednesday Main Street Farmers’ Market. We are excited to have a new building that is designed by and for us. We will have a space for therapeutic groups, lectures, cooking classes, yoga, meditation, Tai Chi, conferences, and other community classes. December 7th will be our GRAND OPENING during the Main x 24 Event. Please come. Have a tour of our new space and stick around for a day of inspiring wellness classes. Stay tuned for new photos of new digs.
I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order. – John Burroughs
Friday, 6pm-8:30pm; Saturday, 7:30am-11:30am *
(6am-7:15am optional start for sitting in meditation at the pavilion.)
Chattanooga Arboretum & Nature Center (Reflection Riding)
Forest Bathing is a Japanese concept of immersing oneself in the sensory experience of the forest with open awareness and no expectations. Studies in Japan have proven that opening one’s senses to the forest will reduce stress hormones such as cortisol, boost the immune system, and reduce the heart rate.
Join Yong Oh, mindfulness teacher, Dr. Jean Lomino, director of CANC and outdoor educator, and Holli Richey, therapist and herbalist, for this Solstice retreat into the woods where we will experience the life-changing practice of mindfulness in nature. Experience how to be present with the body and senses, and learn how to work with difficult thoughts and feelings which generate greater stress and anxiety. Experience what it is to rest in natural awareness. This is the first of more Mindfulness in Nature retreats to come. Toe first, then full immersion.
Register with Chattanooga Arboretum by Monday, June 17th. Donation, $25 suggested.
*This is not an overnight retreat.
I love language expressions that convey a deep intuitive knowing using human anatomy, blending body and mind. Two of my favorites are “to know by heart” and “it’s in your blood”. Within these expressions are a poetic understanding of life’s phenomena.
“To know something by heart” is to say that one has learned something to the degree that she no longer has to think about it. It becomes a different quality of memory, which seems to bypass conscious striving for recall, and emanates from a place other than the brain, a place where Taoist acupuncturists say a powerful source of the human spirit resides, the heart.
When we say we know something by heart, the context is usually within the recitation of something that has been memorized. I played the piano years ago and memorized many pieces, playing them by heart at recitals and for the Guild. I’ve also memorized Shakespearean monologues and soliloquies and recited them by heart for teachers, students, friends and for my dog.
My knowledge of plants is in this heart realm of knowing. When I’m with a plant that I don’t see very often, and I stop to greet it, it’s name comes to me from another place where there is no effort. It’s a different place of knowing.
Recently, I listened to a program by an agency who works with people with Alzheimer’s disease. The presenter described how the mystery of memory presents in people who seem to have lost crucial aspects of their memory, though other memories still remain. The challenge is in discovering what these memories are for each person with Alzheimer’s.
The agency presenter described a case of a caregiver who met with a male patient with Alzheimer’s who had grown quite despondent. The agency learned that this man had been an artist, a painter. The agency suggested that the caregiver get some paints, brushes, canvas, and an easel. Then the agency said to the caregiver to set up the easel in the patient’s room and begin to paint even though she didn’t know how.
The caregiver painted every day in the patient’s room, while he sat in his chair disinterested. One day, the patient got up from the chair and walked behind the caregiver to look at what was on the canvas. The patient grew angry, and said to the caregiver, “No, no, no. You’re doing this wrong.” (That’s my paraphrase.) He took the paintbrush out of her hands, sat down, and began to correct her painting. The agency said that he continued to produce many paintings on his own after that. This was something that he knew by heart.
I wonder if knowing things by heart strengthens that spiritual aspect of the heart which Taoists describe, and if that is the strongest, longest-lasting place of our memory. Perhaps memorization of poetry and music does something for our hearts and our spirits in addition to strengthening our memories. What do you know by heart? It’s likely to be something even more special than that which you could do in your sleep, or know like the back of your hand.
My other favorite expression, “it’s in your blood”, also has a connotation of the type of knowing that avoids the brain; it has a meaning that says we come to something more from a genetic fate, than from learned reason. When something is in one’s blood, it also joins a person to a host of people, the individual merges into a pool of ancestral genes.
We can easily get into the question of nature and nurture here. What about the stories, though, of people who weren’t conditioned by their immediate caregivers to do what they feel led to do?
I was born in West Virginia near my grandparents, but moved to suburban Atlanta when I was a small child. Though we visited the WV family farm annually, I was raised far from the farm-life of my grandparents and great-grandparents. Natural areas and going home to the farm were always special to me. When I discovered from a local herbalist in college how to make medicine from plants, I fell in love. Although it might have looked like lunacy in my suburban upbringing to pursue becoming an herbalist, I knew that it was what I needed to do. While on this path, and visiting with grandmother Ruby, I learned that my great-grandfather James Dovenor (he never knew how to spell his middle name, so I don’t know either), a fur-trapper, carpenter, farmer, and fiddler, also grew ginseng. Knowing that made sense, somehow, of my mysterious longing to work with the healing properties of plants.
Since then, I’ve learned much more from my father and grandmother of how they harvested and used local plants. It was knowledge almost forgotten except that it’s life was in my blood, latent, waiting for a sign.
What is in your blood? What do you know by heart? I would love to know.
Love after Love
The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
Derek Walcott, 1986