Living in the fast-paced energy of NYC, we have become accustomed to high-stress, demanding life-styles that advocate "pre-packaged" health and wellness that comes from pills and quick-fix remedies for all our emotional and physical ailments.
When we are tired we rely on stimulants like multiple cups of coffee. When we are sick we depend on pills that temporarily alleviate our symptoms. When we feel empty we seek happiness in material things outside of ourselves.
While we might argue that our quick-fix remedies might be a means of survival in the demanding environment we live in, our dependence on this lifestyle can lead to side-effects like adrenal burn out, mental exhaustion, irritability, insomnia and depression among other things.
What many of us may not know is that we can shield ourselves from the repercussions of this fast-paced lifestyle by returning to our roots and reconnecting with Mother Nature. Nature is the abundant force of energy that sustains life on earth, interconnecting all living things. Her healing benefits are bountiful and holistic; having the power to heal mind, body and soul.
Spiritually, even the simplest act of observing nature, breathing in the fresh air, and connecting to her heartfelt energy can be therapeutic. When we sit and observe nature and partake in her beauty, we slow down the chatter in our minds, shift our awareness to the present moment and re-connect with our authentic, higher-self.
Whether we are witnessing the unfolding of a flower bud, the vibrant colors and symmetrical patterns on a butterfly's wings, or the blissful, intoxicating aroma of a rose, every moment of experiencing mother nature offers a sense of peaceful yet powerful, majestic beauty. It's a beauty that does more than please our senses, it opens up our hearts, bridging the outside world with our inner-world. Connecting with nature is a form of meditation, offering us a way to find inner stillness, nurture our psyche and restore harmony and balance.
As Henry David Thoreau the naturalist and philosopher once put it, "Mother Nature, in all her infinite compassions and strengths, has remarkable powers to restore vitality. Wash yourself in the pure water of the streams, put your bare feet on the good earth, fall asleep in the arms of an ancient tree. There is good medicine to be found in nature. It is long lasting and heals the soul".
But nature does more than nurture our souls. Natural remedies that come from plants can also heal our physical ailments and illnesses. Plants embody the spirit of nature and contain a spectrum of active constituents which work synergistically to produce healing effects on the body. They offer nutritive, rejuvenating, restorative, as well as strengthening properties for maintaining and enhancing health and wellness.
One can benefit from the myriad of healing properties of plants in many ways. You can drink them as herbal teas, soak in herbal baths, eat them, apply herbal oils and poultices on your skin, or even inhale them.
Drinking herbal teas like oat straw and lemon balm, which act as calming nerve tonics, can help you with anxiety, stress and sleep disorders. Drinking herbs like chamomile and peppermint which are digestive tonics can help with stomach ailments. Applying plants like nettles and calendula topically can help soothe skin irritations. Finally, inhaling the pure essential oils from plants (aromatherapy) is a potent way to directly benefit from both the physical, spiritual and psychological healing properties of plants. For example, rosemary essential oil is antibacterial and can aid in oral hygiene ailments but is also helpful for increasing mental clarity.
While plants may not be as fast-acting and immediately satisfying as taking drugs, they gently restore health and vitality to our bodies over time. As world-renowned herbalist Rosemary Gladstar once said, " Good health is in truth, the practice of living healthfully every day."
Realistically, when most of us think about health and wellness, we don't always think about our relationship with mother nature. Yet very often it is our disconnection from mother nature and our dependence on the material, fast-paced, quick-fix world that is at the root of all our mental and physical illnesses. Nature is an abundant and nurturing life-force that provides us with everything we need to naturally maintain holistic health and wellness. All we need to do is acknowledge and tap into it.