Have you ever had an out-of-body moment, when you don't recognize anything but suddenly realize that this is somehow your life? It feels like you're seeing the world like this for the first time, through new eyes, like you just woke up in this body with this life that you didn't have a moment ago.
This has happened when I'm teaching a Pilates class, and I'm simultaneously confident in my instruction while also amazed at myself for knowing what to do next. It's also happened when I moved house often- 5 times in 5 years at one point. I'd walk into a room and think, "This is my stuff, but what's it doing here?"
It also happened one morning recently, when I was suddenly struck by the quality of the light and the movement of the breeze in stiff bare trees and I was so sure, just for a minute, that it was a late Autumn evening and not 7am in mid-February. For just that minute, I was both here and there.
I think these experiences are actually practicable. The reality we each experience is created through our own personal sets of life-lenses. But I think we can practice seeing our own reality without involving our life's worth of expectation and experience and habits. Like in physical exercise, the benefits of a practice like this expand past the goal- beyond examining our own lives more objectively, this allows us to listen and learn in ways that might be logically unfathomable but just need an open mind to help you grow a little.
Somewhere along my herbal journey, I began to absorb the idea that plants weren't invented for our illnesses, that self-care and healing is labor and discipline and personal responsibility. It was a very gradual paradigm shift, and re-reading my early notes from the beginning of my training reveal that it certainly didn't start right away.
Generally, we don't recognize that our "simple" health-related questions are based in an expectation of "take a pill for it," that assumes some outside force (person, drug, or plant) can/will/should do the work for us. We're actually told that we must submit to doctors and medications even if we feel worse in their "care."
I suggest, instead, that this is really your responsibility, and that all the "experts" are really just part of your team of advisers and require constant questioning. It's actually not fair to expect someone or something to fix you, because how could they ever know what you're experiencing as well as you do? How could they ever influence your choices and decisions and reactions more than you can?
By now, questions about "what herbs are for [health condition]" and "how much [standardized component] is in there/do I need/works best" no longer get straight answers from me. Should I take Valerian for sleep? becomes a conversation about:
You see how this gets can-of-worms complex?
I want you to learn what you have influence over, what you don't, and where you stand in relation to the rest of everything. You have both power over and responsibility for your internal state, your reality. It's a huge shift to come to terms with this. Practicing this has made me a more engaged and stronger human, and has taught me things I didn't know I didn't know.
This is my challenge to you: practice being responsible for, or in charge of, your own reality. Practice stepping outside of it and seeing what things look like from there. Practice experiencing yourself, instead of accepting what outside messages say you think.
Practice seeing how you feel and react to your food, your medications, your herbs, your exercise, and all the other inputs in your life. Practice being part of the bigger picture, working with the weather, being part of the traffic, rather than outside them as if they are happening to you personally.
Practice to see what you find, instead of searching for answers you think you want.
Fun Fact: I'm an herbalist and a movement coach. Not a doctor, or a pharmacist, and not pretending to be one on TV.
This is a public space, so my writing reflects my experiences and I try to stay general enough so it might relate to you. This does not constitute medical advice, and I encourage you to discuss concerns with your doctor. Remember, however, that the final say in your wellness decisions are always yours- you have the power to choose, you are the boss of you.
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This website is provided for educational and informational purposes only and is not medical, mental health or healthcare advice. The information presented here is not intended to diagnose, treat, heal, cure or prevent any illness, medical condition or mental or emotional condition. Working with us is not a guarantee of any results. Paula Billig owns all copyrights to the materials presented here unless otherwise noted.