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Mindfulness and Herbs – A Perfect Combination

October 31, 2016

Mindfulness and Herbs - A Perfect Combination

Practicing Mindfulness

A personal question, though one you don’t have to reply to… how is your mental well-being right now? Are you struggling a bit as the days get shorter and the nights longer and darker? Are you able to practice mindfulness? For those of us in the western hemisphere winter is approaching and with it I’ve noticed moods beginning to wobble as we wave goodbye to warm sunshine. Now, more than ever, it’s important to get outside for a while and be touched by the cool light, whether that means getting on with a few late autumn jobs in the garden or simply walking in the woods in quiet contemplation.

The Wellwood Centre

A couple of weeks ago I attended a Mindfulness Retreat at the Wellwood Centre, the beautifully designed and shiny new holistic centre a few miles from us in Royal Oak, Co Carlow. I was fortunately asked to design the planting plan for the herb garden there a couple of years ago and enjoyed returning to see how the plants had settled in.

Mindfulness and Herbs - A Perfect Combination

I recommended over 250 different varieties of herbs for the four 7 m x 2 m purple raised beds, each planted in their designated aromatherapy, herbal tea, culinary and medicinal areas. With a year of growth behind them, it’s good to see the herbs settling down. They complement the striking Geodome and fit in with the rest of the eight acres of woodland, sculpture, grass, mounded, lake and ornamental gardens beautifully.

Guided Meditation

Marjo Oosterhoff from the Passaddhi Meditation Centre led the mindfulness retreat and after a day of silent, guided meditation with 15 or so other adults, I now feel more able to spend time meditating, a practice surprisingly recommended to me by my GP months ago. I hadn’t allowed myself the time, nor really understood the practice until the retreat. I particularly enjoyed learning about metta, or loving-kindness which is a way of reconnecting with our inner being that is kind and compassionate. This is something I try to practice every day now, even for just a few minutes.

Marjo read the following to us, a poem that touched me and I’ve found myself repeating since:

 By William Henry Davies

What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs

And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,

Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,

Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,

And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can

Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

As we begin to let winter enfold us, a time that can be tough for our mental health, I hope you’ll take a few moments to stop and stare at the beauty of the natural world around you and let nature work her magical healing powers.

If you’re already meditating, I’d love to hear any tips that can help me or readers of this blog keep up with the practice?


If you don’t go outside this week…

March 14, 2014

You might miss the hawthorn leaves that are starting to unfold in the sun…….

Crataegus monogyna - or in simple terms the Hawthorn leaves are coming out to play

Crataegus monogyna ~ Hawthorn

Or you might not see the skeletal remains of last year’s foliage that managed to hang on through the harsh storm winds that ravaged the land…

Leaf in the sunlight

If you don’t explore the hedgerows this week you might miss the catkins on the hazel trees as they sway in the soft breeze…

Corylus avellana

Corylus avellana ~ Hazel

Or you might not spot the way the light catches them in the late evening sun…

Corylus avellana catkins

If you don’t take a few minutes to step outside the door and take a few minutes of peace for yourself, you’ll miss the sound of the birds and insects as they look for mates and food and nest and play….

Pussy Willow Catkins on the Salix

Salix ~ pussy willow

and if you don’t slow down you might not notice the way the pussy willow sparkles as as it catches the light.

If you don’t take a few minutes out of your busy life and head outside you might not feel the sunshine on your face as you momentarily stop, close your eyes, tilt your head and accept the warmth as it caresses your skin.

“Yesterday the twig was brown and bare;
To-day the glint of green is there;
Tomorrow will be leaflets spare;
I know no thing so wondrous fair,
No miracle so strangely rare.
I wonder what will next be there!”

L.H. Bailey

Will you take a few minutes during these dry, spring days to spend a little time practising mindfulness, bringing some calm and simplicity into your life? There’s a reason the word renewal is associated with spring, but you may have to head outside to find it…