As surely as the sun rises in the morning, the flowers will bloom and turn their faces towards the warmth and light in greeting. Is it any surprise that we, too, benefit from starting the day by letting sunlight onto our faces? Is it by accident that the very same nettle plant that stings our skin also provides relief? Even our lungs mirror the tree branches, encouraging us to look deeper at the jaw-dropping mystery of nature that we exist in. When we look to the plant kingdom with the heart of a student, we find vast wisdom for our healing and thriving.
Implementing and working with plants for healing purposes has been practiced since humans have walked on this Earth. Whether foraging for edible foods or experimenting with healing herbs, our journey on this planet is intrinsically interwoven with plants. There are many potent ways to work with healing plants: in foods, teas, tinctures, compresses, salves, and, of course, oils. Although essential oils have grown in popularity recently, their effectiveness and wisdom are no trend. History favors the plants, and for good reason.
In the French Dordogne region, cave paintings suggest people in 18,000 BCE used medicinal plants to aid their everyday lives. In Ancient Egypt, plants were readily used to heal and inspire the mind, body, and spirit. Oils from available medicinal plants were made into healing powders, suppositories, pills, and ointments. At one point, aromatic oils were so revered that only priests were allowed to use them, based on the belief that oils were necessary to commune with the Gods and must be handled with utmost care. Around 400 BCE in Greece, soldiers carried Myrrh Ointment with them into battle to help prevent infections from arising. During the black plague, legend says a band of clever thieves survived by rubbing an oil blend of purifying herbs such as clove, rosemary, and eucalyptus on their bodies. The ‘Father of Medicine’ Hypocrites noted: “A perfumed bath and a scented massage every day is the way to good health.”
Today, the hum of the plants seems to be calling us back to a way of living similar to that of civilizations past. Cyclical, regenerative living in harmony with nature beckons to many. But how, in today’s modern speedy tempo, do we slow down, look past the concrete city blocks, and once again listen to hear the plant’s wise hum?
“I sit before the flowers and hope they will train me in opening up” - Shane Koyczan
At Sayu, we believe that forming a deep connection to these intelligent healing botanicals is not only possible but essential. Whether you live in the jungle, an ocean village, the countryside, or a buzzing urban city, there are ways to invite a nurturing plant relationship into your life.
Here are some of our favorite simple ways to begin working with (and loving) our plant friends:
Windowsill Culinary Herb Garden -
Have you ever noticed that most grocery stores sell live culinary herbs? Keeping an indoor basil or rosemary plant is a delightful way to introduce plants into your daily routine. Next time you see them in the grocery aisles, pick out your favorite herb in the bunch and adopt it! The herbs will come with simple directions, so do not worry if this is your first time caring for a plant. We also recommend a few things to get you started: repot your plant in a ceramic or clay pot with a hole at the bottom for drainage, fill it with nutrient-rich, Organic potting soil, and place it in an area of your home that gets plenty of sunlight (a windowsill is excellent for most culinary herbs!) Be mindful of your plant, checking the soil regularly to see if it's dry and making sure to water when it is. With a bit of devotion, you will soon have a thriving herbal plant that can make your home cooking so much yummier! Nothing is better than adding some fresh rosemary, thyme, basil, or mint to a favorite recipe.
P.S. - If you want to go a step further, look up the medicinal benefits of the herb you chose. Many culinary herbs also have extraordinary healing properties! For instance, thyme is revered for its ability to help us fight respiratory infections and can help soothe coughs and nasal congestion.
“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
Loose Leaf Herbal Tea-
One way to kick your tea game up a notch is by leaving behind prepackaged tea boxes and diving into the world of loose-leaf tea. Tea is a wonderful way to begin learning about healing plants, one herbal brew at a time. All you need to start this journey is a teapot, french press, or tea infuser (be sure to get one with a lid to keep the beneficial oils from the herbs in your cup!) and an herb of your choice. Try starting with an herb you are familiar with, like chamomile or peppermint, and do some research to understand the abundant healing benefits of the plant.
To prepare a standard herbal tea, start with a ratio of 1 tsp of dried herbs to 8 oz of boiling water. Cover it, and let it sit for 5-10 minutes while the goodness infuses. Once you familiarize yourself more with the herbs, a whole world opens up! Creating a custom tea blend based on your needs at that moment is utterly satisfying and helps build a deep sense of empowerment. Before you drink any herbal tea, ensure that you have done adequate research and know that the blend will be safe to consume.Unwind Tea Blend:
- 2 tsp chamomile
- 1 tsp lemon balm
- 1 tsp rose
- 1 tsp lavender
Brew in a standard teapot for 5 -10 minutes, breathe, sip, and enjoy!
Essential Oil Meditation-
Introducing essential oils into your lifestyle is incredibly easy and deeply nourishing. They can accompany you wherever you go, tucked in your purse, pocket, or riding in your car. Seeing your favorite blend in your bag can encourage you to pause during an otherwise busy day, stopping to ground back into your body and the present moment with just one inhale. We encourage essential oil use throughout the day, as each blend can support you in unique ways depending on your needs.
When your spirit is craving deeper nourishment than a simple deep breath on the go, we love trying this approachable essential oil meditation. Our favorite blends to work with during meditation are Elysium or Mage.
- Find a quiet space in which you can relax and feel safe; try dimming the lights and getting cozy.
- Gather your chosen Sayu blend and bring it along with you
- Turn on a favorite meditation playlist (we love Japanese flute music or nature sounds)
- Sit or lie down, and place your hands on your lower belly
- Gently close your eyes and focus your attention on breathing deeply into your lower belly
- Take 4-10 deep breaths, allowing the exhale to be longer than the inhale
- When you feel ready, pick up the oil and hold it to your heart, connecting with the wisdom of the plants held within, offering gratitude to these powerful allies
- Place a few drops of oil into your palms, rub your hands together, and inhale deeply. Let the warmth of your breath touch your face and soften into the sensory experience of the blend
- Place a few more drops of oil on your thumb and forefinger and rub them together, then anoint yourself on the place of your body that calls to you. (Example: maybe you have experienced loss or heartbreak recently, so you anoint yourself on your heart.)
- Take the time to truly care for yourself in this moment, gently massage the oil into your skin with your fingertips.
- Continue breathing deeply, and stay in the meditation as long as you like, connecting deeper to the nourishing scent of the oil, allowing yourself to feel whatever is present in your mind and body without judgment or expectation.
Flower Petal Bath-
What better way to connect with the Earth and the plants than by immersing yourself in a luxurious flower petal bath? Combining the precious elements of Earth and Water, this simple ritual is truly divine and can do wonders for a tired or depleted body, mind, or spirit! For centuries, flower baths have been used alongside plant medicine ceremonies for healing in Amazonian indigenous cultures. This beautiful ritual is said to cleanse the spirit while also introducing the essence of the flower as a teacher and healer.
For this example, we have picked the lovely plant ally, Rose. This delicate yet powerful flower tastes delicious, smells heavenly, looks stunning, and has potent herbal medicinal properties. Rose is revered as a medicine of the hart, and can increase feelings of self-love and self-acceptance. It can even assist in healing amidst grief, loss, or trauma with its warm, abundant feminine qualities. Additionally, Rosehips are well-loved by herbalists as a great friend during cold season, as they are high in Vitamin C and also taste quite good in tea!
When preparing for a rose petal bath, find the blooms that feel best for you - each color of Rose has a unique meaning, and understanding this can add depth to your ritual. Once you are ready to begin, we encourage setting a beautiful, intentional scene with low lights, beeswax candles, soothing music, lemon water, and a fluffy bathrobe at the ready. Fill an essential oil diffuser with our favorite sensual blend, Eros (and/or add several drops directly to an unscented candle). This blend encourages feelings of self-love and can invite you deeper into this nourishing ritual. Allow the steam to rise and immerse yourself in the essence of plant goodness! Before you get in the water, gather your roses and begin placing the petals into the bath (you can also leave some roses whole to admire their beauty). Lay back, relax, and invite the medicine of the Rose in - may your heart be open to receive all that is meant for you.
“The plants have enough spirit to transform our limited vision,” ~Rosemary Gladstar.
From one plant lover to another, we hope this article has sparked your curiosity and perhaps even invited you to look at your relationship with healing flowers, herbs, and plants in a new light. Whether you grow basil or bathe in rose petals, the plants are here to help! There is no right or wrong way to begin your plant path, and we at Sayu are here to support you every step of the way.~ Written by Rohini Mauk ~