Grounding Herbs

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How To Ground Yourself 

Grounding is the act of going within, connecting to mother nature, and reuniting with your rooted, physical self. It balances all spiritual action and the upper chakras and can help pull you back down into the lower chakras’ primal powers, such as creating stability, security, creativity, and confidence. 

Winter is an excellent time for grounding. Due to all the darkness, naturally, as creatures, we are called to go within with the shorter day times. So if it’s winter where you are, grounding really is a prime choice and what nature is asking you to do. 

When I worked in the environment, with trees and shrubs, it was known that deciduous species all put their energy into their root systems after a particular time. 

To us, as horticulturalists, that time is usually sometime around Halloween. Sometimes before, sometimes after, but it’s often October, depending on your growing zone. 

Once the plants start sending their energy down to their roots, this is always when I think about grounding and how important it is. 

Grounding can be a comforting, nourishing act and there are many ways to do it. You can ground based on your element, you can ground based on what makes you feel safe, and you can ground with tips from people who care for you. 

So today, I want to share seven ways to ground, in case you would love some ideas. Here are a few of my favorite ways to do it. 

Earthwork Part Two: Herbs for Grounding

We talk a lot on this blog about reconnect-ion, the potential for healing of individual, society and environment when we reconnect to the more-than –human world. Here, I want to talk about a kind of re-connection possible wherever we are, the medicine of presence.

In this culture of over-stimulation and information overload, we spend much of our time up in our heads.  The never-ending influx of news, mostly bad, can lead even those not prone to worry to a state of constant anxiety. Grounding substances and practices bring us out of our heads and into our bodies. They bring us into the moment. Out of the past, out of the future, into the here and now. When we tune in and pay attention to our surroundings, we take a break from our list-making and litany of worries. In the first part of this series, I discussed practices that support embodiment and re connection. In this segment, I will discuss some of my favorite grounding herbs.

When we work with grounding herbs, we begin to see patterns in the qualities of these herbs.  Many of these plants are bitter.  How might this taste relate to their grounding influence? Bitterness, which is both a taste and an herbal action, stimulates the digestive system, especially the liver. But this action has broader effects throughout the body.  Digestion is ruled by the Parasympathetic Nervous System, which governs the body’s rest and repair functions. Through the fascinating interconnection of our organ systems, when we stimulate the digestive system, we send a message to the body:  we have time to relax, slow down, receive nourishment.  Herbs that stimulate digestion also bring energy to the core of the body; they literally center our experience. These herbs bring us back into our bodies by acting on the gut. We feel embodiment through our viscera, an immediate counter-action to the machinations of the mind.

Over time, regular use of bitter, grounding herbs works tonic ally, improving overall health. Bitters stimulate the liver, an organ with over 500 functions.  Among these functions is the processing of hormones, including those we use in times of stress.  A well-functioning liver clears these hormones from the bloodstream so that we cease physically responding to stress once the stressor is gone. The liver improves digestion, including assimilation and absorption of nutrients, which improves the structure and function of the body as a whole, including the nervous system thereby having a marked influence on mental health.

Many grounding herbs are aromatic.  Literally, this means they contain volatile oils. To understand how this quality relates to mental health, we must once again look to physiology.  When we inhale, aromatic compounds move up through our nose into the olfactory bulb located in the midst of the limbic system, a circle of organs in the brain that facilitate how we process our experiences. Though the actual mechanism of the limbic system is a bit murky (hurray for the beautiful mystery of the body), this is where we process emotions, experience pleasure and pain, and form and house our memories.  The location of the olfactory bulb in the midst of these organs speaks to the primacy of the sense of smell to how we relate to and interpret our experiences. This partially explains the strong connection between scent and memory. As Guido Masé explains in his book The Wild Medicine Solution, aromatic herbs help us adapt to our surroundings. They are simultaneously calming and stimulating. That may sound contradictory, but consider the many kinds of experiences that have both effects:  a walk in the woods, stretching, making out. When we refer to herbal actions, relaxing and stimulating are not opposites; they are in fact complimentary. Through easing tension and enlivening the senses, aromatic herbs help bring us into the moment, increase awareness and heighten perception. In other words, if an herb is aromatic, it is likely to have a grounding effect.

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