Learning to See in the Dark: Wellness for the 21st Century

I have been a conscious crusader for healing the planet since I was 10.  After watching a documentary on the indigenous Amazonians, I determined I wanted to be a shaman when I grew up.  It wasn’t till decades later that I would learn the true meaning of the word shaman, which originated with the Tungus tribe of Siberia, means “one who sees in the dark.”


Indeed, to advance forward now and take charge of our own health and healing, as well as the healing of our home, family, community, and planet, we ALL need to learn to see in the dark.  What does this exactly mean?  At this point, it means that many of us have woken up to the fact that our body, our life, is more than meets the eye.  Our Western, linear, left brain culture and medicine teaches us a Cartesian view of the world…it is all made up of parts, separate parts, that can be put together for the right price for a consumer by the right provider.  Without that externalization of everything we need being outside of us…we are, and have, nothing.  This foundation of our experience of everything as separate has created a deeply dysfunctional fracturing of our true experience of Self.


What if I told you what heals you, REALLY heals you, is a pulse deep within your own being.  Not your heart rate, or blood pressure, or even your thoughts and diet.  It is actually a frequency that is uniquely yours.  Like a radio wave seeking to broadcast on a specific station, YOU are that specific station.  Unfortunately, many of us go through life tuning and re-tuning the dial with pretty poor reception.  We are told to look outside of ourselves for the answers to our life, our problems, even our desires and goals.  And the results?  Very poor.  350 million people world-wide suffer depression, it is the number one disability in the world.  And the numbers are growing daily: cancer, autism, diabetes, obesity, autoimmune disease, hormonal dysregulation, immune decline, chronic pain are all on the rise.  We are getting sicker as a population, not better, regardless of how much money we spend as a wealthy nation on healthcare and drug research.


Speaking of drug research, most all medical school text books now are paid for and in part written by pharmaceutical companies.  So our continuing Western medical model of learning about health and healing of the human body is defined, again, by agents outside of us that alter our body functioning.  We have no true sense of how we are marvelously functioning under the guise of “placebo”, spontaneous healing, or darn it, self-healing in general.  Do you know that you are wired to self-heal?  If you cut yourself, you have no doubt that cut will heal.  So why then do we doubt that our body, with the right impediments removed, can heal?  That our mind, with the right impediments removed, can heal?  And my favorite, how our spirit, with the right impediments removed, can heal?  Notice I said impediments REMOVED.  It is not something we need to gain, but the removal of what impedes our communication to our vital Self.  We can see ourselves finally as WHOLE!  Then we can truly admire the magical, mystical functioning of our superbly complex, integrated bio-electro-magnetic-chemical organism (that happens to be intimately connected to the diversity of bio-electro-magnetic-chemical organisms around them).  No wonder the origin of the word ‘heal’ is to “make whole”!


That is why it is time for us to collectively decide to see in the dark, for us to look behind the great curtain of Oz and see for ourselves what is hidden beneath the surface of our own being-ness.  And you know what?  The journey will blow your mind.  It will expand your heart.  It will cause you to tear up when you see the sunrise or look in your dog’s eyes (or if you are lucky, your spouse’s).  It will give you so much gratitude for being in this exact body, right here, right now.  I promise you, what you will find when you decide to turn that satellite reception dish inward and begin tuning into the dark vastness of your own True Self.  You will find Embodied Light, the beginning of your healing journey.


What is Embodied Light?

Embodied light is my favorite healing tool to work with.  It is your unique spark of vital essence that runs your material machine.  Like the definition of a photon particle (or wave), it is, in its essence, radiant energy.   The consciousness of your ‘soul’, embodied in your cellular matter, gives off a form of radiant energy that can be enhanced and strengthened with awareness, or extremely depleted with forgetting and overriding.  It doesn’t matter if we are using the healing tools of food, herbs, meditation, essential oils, Reiki, reflexology, etc., etc., if your soul is not on board, there will be NO healing change.  Have you ever eaten the same exact thing with different results? Depending on where you are or who you are with?  Have you ever found something for some reason gives you an immense amount of joy, though you may do it or see it with no response on another day?  Do you ever feel great about your body, and then the next day, for some reason, you can’t tolerate it’s icky-ness?  Have you ever found a healing modality, or exercise class, or diet, to work, but then, at a different time, in a different state with different thoughts, it doesn’t have the same effect? Why are we so darn variable and unpredictable?


While this question is the bane of modern medical research (alongside the placebo effect), I have to say I LOVE your variability!  Do you know why?  Because it is a roadmap to your inner self, your deepest darkest inner dialogue.  Your impetuous waves of variability are the emotional current of your soul, and if you dare to ride them, they will tell you what is up, and why.  They will lovingly guide you to listen to your inner state, and not get lost outside of yourself with the mire of babble and commodities you throw at yourself to no avail.  The reason they don’t stick is because when you just use your conscious intellectual mind to make health and life decisions, you are not using your whole tool box.  And in this day of social media and information bombardment, understanding yourself through the reflection of ‘other’ is not YOU.  Only you know YOU and that’s that.  Take that Facebook!


So, when you journey these waves of variability and deep moodiness within the dark of your being, you begin to slow down and quiet the chatter of your active mind.  You begin to learn to sense a presence, an aspect of yourself that has been long forgotten.  Some like to think of it as your inner child, because it seems young, simple, and very honest.  I like to think of it as the infinite within, the infinite spark of your consciousness, your higher self, that is fully embedded in the awareness of every cell of your body (which you unfortunately have been trained to tune out over a more rational approach to existence).  Unlike a higher self-awareness  external to you in the spiritual realm (one that you may tap into in meditation with some non-attachment), this delicious part of your higher-self is smack dab anchored and buried in your juicy, gassy core.  There is no escaping the purgatory of this body, and all its negative thoughts, beliefs, stories, repressed emotions, fears, resistance, rage, violence etc., etc.,that makes this shining spark of light of your highest infinite being sink slowly, steadily, deeper into the chasms of your unconscious dunce corner of the catacombs of your body-mind.  And, for many of us women, if we hate our bodies, and infuse it with judgements and self-loathing every day…guess what happens to this light?


Back to seeing in the dark.  The light is there, we just have to find it again and bring it out.  Bring it out of every cell, every organ, every chakra, every heartbeat.  You have to dive in deep, learn to ‘see in the dark’, and not come up until you are clinging with such desperate self-love to this sweet blinking part of your infinite self, and promise never to turn your back on her/him again.  You begin to acknowledge that your body is amazing, your mind is powerful when still and focused, and your heart has the ability to jump start a world of love.  It is THEN that you begin to change your diet, notice what foods you love and find strength in, and what makes you feel weak minded and jittery.  It is then that herbs not only support your chemistry, but they begin to sing to your cell’s consciousness to wake up and do their job! It is then that essential oils not only smell good and relax you, but they begin to stir deep memories and truths of harmony, and alignment, and nudge your psyche to find beauty and healing (wholeness) everywhere.  It is then, that with each energy or body work session you receive, you go deeper and deeper into this consciousness, anchoring your brilliant infinite, intuitive mind as a part of your whole mind, till all you experience is oneness and unity with everything alive in love.


This is the goal of learning how to see in the dark, a wellness strategy for the 21st century.  Let the fun (and healing) begin…for the sake of you and the entire planet!


Plants and Pain

In this age of an ongoing opioid crisis, a new conversation around the power and action of herbal remedies for managing pain is more important than ever.  We are on the cutting edge of new pain research into the effectiveness of CBD (cannabidiol) products, derived from the cannabis plant, without the psychoactive effects of THC many associate with recreational marijuana use.  Understanding the complex CBD receptor network in our body, and the widespread presence of CBDs in nature (not just cannabis plants), we start to open up to a larger communication and healing network that has existed between humans and plants since we first came into contact with one another.


We are an intimate part of this planet, not separate, and the more we understand the dynamic interactions that both stress and heal our own being, the more powerfully we wield the medicines that grow in our backyard, or live in our kitchen spice cabinet.  This concept of connection and balance starts with our relationship to our own bodies.  Pain networks in the body tell us to do the following: STOP, slow down, breathe, listen to what your body is communicating to you.  Pain can originate in the mind with intense trauma or emotional blocks, as well as with the nervous system picking up cues from the tissue of the body.  By slowing down and listening to what our bodies are communicating through the pain response, we can begin to use plants to help us ease into a space of healing release and vital integration.


While you may need to work with a holistic practitioner to heal a deeply entrenched pain matrix in the body, there are many things you can try at home to ease pain and discomfort by enhancing your own body’s natural reflexes with our natural biochemical allies: plants!


Excess heat and inflammation: Use common heating herbs and spices to assist your immune system’s inflammation response such as cayenne pepper, ginger, and mustard seed (can be used crushed in packs on arthritic knees…with caution, can burn if left on too long!): all act as anti-inflammatories and anodynes (relieve pain).


Constricting spasm/pain of digestive tract: Use digestive stimulants and smooth muscle relaxants like teas or compresses of cinnamon, peppermint, and orange rind to bring circulation and ease to tense painful bellies.


SAD (seasonal affective disorder): Warming relaxant herbs like rosemary, marjoram, and thyme can be added to soothing teas, warm baths, steam inhalations (put head covered by towel over boiling pot of herbs to catch aromatic steam, inhale) and eye pillows for rest and restoration during the darkening days.  My favorite is a few drops of rosemary essential oil dropped on the far side of shower to diffuse as a hot steam inhalation.


Herbal medicine and you

Welcome to the experience of plant medicines that are specifically formulated for YOU, not for the symptoms alone that you manifest.  The origins of the word “drug” come from medieval German roots meaning dried plant, and indeed, drugs today have come a long way from dried plants.

Most pharmaceuticals on the market today come from an original discovery of a medicinal attribute from a plant.  For the purposes of research, patent profits and controlled titration, pharmaceuticals are based on ONE chosen pharmacologically active constituent from a plant that originally has hundreds to thousands of constituents.  While there are some powerful life-saving drugs that have been discovered and produced in this context, the daily maintenance of human health and wellbeing is arguably not best served by these one-hit-wonders.  The strong drugs we know of today are worlds apart from the biologically active and conscious plants that inform and work WITH our natural systems as opposed to against it.

Aspirin, one of the most popular over the counter drugs sold in the world today, had its discovery from a Spirea plant (meadowsweet).  Salicylic acid was isolated, and then was found and extracted from the willow plant, from which is was more accessible to extract.  Once the chemical was isolated, plant material was no longer needed, because now it was understood how to produce salicylic acid in a chemical lab.  Aspirin flew off the shelves, and then, a detrimental side effect, stomach ulcers and bleeding, was discovered.

This is perhaps one of the most common examples that shows up consistently in the pharmaceutical versus plant medicine world, one isolated constituent out of balance with the chemistry of its mother plant can also have negative side effects that upset our own organism balance.  Yet meadowsweet, the original herb salicylic acid was found in, also has mucilages that protect the stomach lining and prevent the experience of ulcers and bleeding, while providing anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties.

If we look beyond mere chemistry, which is required by herbalists who work with plants that have hundreds/thousands of active chemical constituents, we begin to discover an intelligent system of checks and balances, certain harmonic systems put in place when we consume plant medicines in a conscious and intentional way.  This is not to say there are not poisonous plants out there, as there definitely are, but traditional herbs with thousands of years of usage all over the world, and with 85% of the world’s population still using herbs as primary health care, there are absolutely more benefits than risks compared to the hasty and detrimental over-medication that occurs in our current healthcare model.

Your body is wise!  You are designed to self-heal.  One does not doubt when they get a cut or scrap that it will heal…yet the placebo effect is the constant bane of healthcare research, and is never given its own attention and due.  Why is this?  Because your self-empowerment, and knowledge of your natural healing state is overlooked in preference to pharmaceutical profits and power.  If just by THINKING about taking a drug you can begin to heal yourself, imagine what you can do when thinking about healing, AND taking a biologically active conscious medicine from this earth that has intimate knowledge of your own DNA and healing processes?  Behold, our dear friends the plants!  Science is only just now scratching the surface of the multi-faceted power of synergistically acting chemical constituents on our body.  For example, the have found a receptor for farnesene terpenes in the nuclear DNA of our cells.  This is the part of our cells that is responsible for our genetic material that leads to transcription and translation to body proteins, and for some reason, it has a receptor, that is, it is listening for, a constituent that is found in the essential oils of flowers!  I wonder what that genetic conversation is about!

While there are thousands of years of precedent using herbal medicine, it is often undermined and overlooked…why?  Because plants are FREE, they grow in your backyard, down your street, in your local parks.  Did you know one of the most powerful liver tonics is fought bitterly against, creating perhaps the highest amount of herbicide sales, and is most likely out your front door?  Can you guess? Dandelion!

We live in a world that is full of healing and opportunity for deep transformation, if we are willing to soften our gaze into our own beings, and into the world around us.

So our first step of the journey to true healing, transformation, and self-integration is to wake up to the ways we experience constant conflict within our own beings, and the natural world around us, and begin to accept, and allow, that we are indeed self-healing.  We are powerful instruments of healing and change, for our own selves, for each other, and for the greater world around us.

So next time you scratch your head about the state of “primary care” in this country, remember that YOU are primary care.  It is time to reclaim it!