It’s that time of year! The merriment of the holiday season is over and winter has begun in earnest. As a way of winding down from all of the highs and lows of the season, so many of us seem to get sick on the 2nd of January! I’ve said for years that I truly believe that sometimes, catching a bug is our bodies way of trying to get us to relax for a bit! Periods of hibernation, or seasonal contemplation as I’ve taken to calling them are a must for keeping our bodies resilient in this world with all of its external interruptions and stressors.
Over the years I’ve learned to use my trusted herbal allies for building up my immunity when I feel as if I could be perilously close to getting sick and when the flu or a cold actually hits me, I use many different herbs to help minimize my symptoms and overall discomfort.
My mother taught me many years ago that the single most important thing that you can do when you are ill or trying to stave off an illness, is to pamper yourself completely. She would always bring our breakfast on a bed tray, served on a pretty cup, bowl and plate and always with a bud vase with flowers. I got strep throat frequently as a child so breakfast was usually something soft, like a bowl of her wonderful chicken, rice and mushroom soup with thyme, cream and an egg beaten into it. She also used to make me an old-fashioned milk pudding that she called Junket which I loved, that she flavored with sherry, cinnamon and nutmeg. It always helped.
I still have a bed tray for myself and one in my Airbnb. I have many guests who come to stay that are recovering from surgery or other illnesses. They have told me that being able to just relax and have their meals in bed without concern really helps to support their healing process. If you can’t find a bed tray, you can use an old carving board or tray and it will work just as well!
The other thing my mother was absolutely insistent about was that if I was sick, it was especially the time for just a bit of lip gloss, some facial moisturizer, a touch of perfume and particularly lovely pajamas. She’d brush my hair out until it was shiny, touch up my lips and face (a big help because then your skin will resist chapping!) and put just a drop or two of one of her lovely perfumes on my wrists and neck. She’d take me into the library, seat me right by the window and wrap me up in a blanket with a hot cup of lavender, sage and lemon balm tea and hand me a book. When I looked in the mirror I hardly ever looked as bad as I was feeling and you know what? I always started to feel better. Simply taking the time for a bit of self-care is absolutely a necessity for supporting the healing process.
Although my mother used her lovely Shalimar bath oil for our convalescence, over the years I’ve learned to take my baths with a tablespoon of sweet almond oil mixed with 3 drops each of essential oils of lavender (relaxing), rose oil (anti-inflammatory) and sweet birch (to promote sweating). This really seems to always help with congestion, aches and fevers. Please remember to never use essential oils in your baths without a carrier oil. Even in the smallest dosages, essential oils are strong and they need the emollient qualities of an oil like almond or olive to serve as a soothing delivery system on your skin.
I’m truly hoping that we won’t ever need to use these recipes to protect ourselves from anything as serious as the bubonic plague and I hope that none of you catch any of these awful bugs that are going around this winter. However, if you do, please remember to care for yourself and treat yourself to some soothing herbal self-care and pampering. I promise that you’ll feel better and if you can sooth yourself into feeling just little bit better, it always seems like the body will reach deep into its healing reservoirs and do the rest of the work for you.
Somewhere as I’m typing, I hear my mother’s sweet laughter and the smell of her oniony, velvety chicken soup is suddenly wafting through my senses. It’s amazing how potent the memory is. She would be pleased to know that I still own a bed tray and that I always use her lovely sick bed dishes with the raised purple violets.
Yes mama…you always did know best.
“And still after all this time the Sun has never said to the Earth, “You owe me”
Look what happens with love like that.
It lights up the sky”
Memory of a Cosmic Heart
It is a wonderful time to be alive. I know that this may sound strange but I truly believe it. We are living through a time of unprecedented change and chaos. On our beautiful planet and possibly so many others yet unseen and unknown, life as we know it is shifting, evolving at an unprecedented pace. The natural elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water are no longer satisfied to be used as a pretty setting for a picnic or a painting…they’ve suddenly become as alive to us as the movies we watch for our entertainment.
We have consistently ignored the laws of quantum physics, preferring instead to deal with nature in a most ordinary way. The human suffering and natural catastrophes that seem to be unfolding around us every day can no longer be ignored by even the most insulated around us. We’re suddenly immersed in our natural world in a way that is demanding us to be peaceful, reflective and instantly responsive.
Our perceptions of what it means to be alive must shift and evolve as well. What does it mean to be alive in this moment…right now? What do we need to thrive in this moment right now? Many forgone conclusions and illusions about what it means to create a life well lived have been recently shattered.
There is one other natural element that is rarely spoken of and the Vedas called it Shunya…the fifth element, the space between… the known and the unknown. Shunya is all around us and yet we rarely enter it willingly, in fact if the simple truth be told, we get thrown into it kicking and screaming. It usually takes a moment of existential crisis or a physical moment that shatters our bodies, egos and forces us to our knees in supplication. The human ego generally doesn’t look past what it thinks that it can see, until we are suddenly, knowingly beyond all hope.
Shunya is the space between, where if we simply let go and move beyond the illusory limits of the known and our false perceptions of safety, that real magic can happen.
All around the world, right now in this moment of common people are witnessed doing the uncommon. It’s not an accident. We are being called to move into the void, the cauldron…we are literally being forced to create a new meaning for what it means to live an extraordinary life.
I say all of the time to my clients, ”Live with intention. Things are always going to happen, but living with intention allows them to be created, molded and accepted by you regardless of the outcome. If you live with intention instead of by default, you’ll create the end result that you desire, regardless of the twists and turns that it takes to get there. “
Enter into my life Greg Spalenka and Rob Jacobs nearly miraculous musical odyssey of human and planetary redemption, The Memory of a Cosmic Heart.
This is a musical and artistic collaboration that is stunning, sweeping, potent and ultimately so relevant for the moment that we find ourselves in right now that I wept openly as I listened to it even though I had no images to look at nor poetry to sway me. I waited to look at Greg’s glorious paintings until I had listened to it. I wanted my own perceptions of the music to move me and they definitely did.
The story is so simple, reverent and beautiful. A daughter of the Sun finds herself falling to Earth and discovers that her reason for being is to show all of humanity that we each carry the magic, mystery and delight of the sun within our hearts. Imagine for a moment how we would treat each other if this was so, if we chose to see each other as keepers of such a great light, radiance and individual mystery instead of separated by what we think that we know ourselves to be? How differently would we treat our mother Earth?
In today’s world of 24/7 news and endless political intrigue, environmental challenge and drama it is easily to feel as though you are being slowly sucked dry by that energy. It is easy to feel despair. It is easy to give in to the anger we see and more importantly feel all around us. It is easy to forget who we are, who we can be for ourselves and each other.
There is a primeval and indigenous heartbeat that runs through this music that is so real and soulful, that I felt grounded, truly enlivened and hopeful as I listened to it. Nestled within the beautiful melodies, voices and rhythms of this glorious Cosmic Heart is a deep, luscious and ever flowing well of a sacred violet flame that I can return to over and over again that truly slakes my thirst for kindness and compassion.
I think that’s one of the things that I love the most about this amazing piece of musical and multimedia magic. For me it was multi-purpose. Listening to it, meditating to it and dancing with it allowed me to turn inward to my own creative and mystical center for the first time in months. I shed my clothes and danced freely around my room, falling madly in love with the mystery of what it could mean for all of us to move forward with the light and power of the sun in our hearts. It was just like the first time that I ever heard Gabrielle Roth’s glorious “5 Rhythms of the Soul” so many decades ago. I had to get up and move and I had no choice in the matter. It was time to get naked and shed some skin.
I encourage any and all of you to support this magnificent project. To know Greg Spalenka is to know that he means every word, every musical note, every stroke he puts to canvas. The musicians and collaborations on this work are amazing and show his commitment to creating a masterpiece of fierce and unyielding beauty. It is his desire to truly create a space for us all to find radiance, peace and to remember what it means to love ourselves and each other, no matter our race, color or creed.
Memory of a Cosmic Heart is a love story of powerful intentional choices. It is a welcoming and homecoming for all of us who long to return to each other. Listen to it, be moved by it and please share it. Like a beautiful spiral dance, the mystical, magical daughter of the Sun cannot help but affect any and all she touches.
Dance with her and remember how to live.
-Beth Schreibman Gehring is a writer and author of “Stirring the Senses, Seasonal Celebrations of Love, Life & Food.” She is also a lifestyle blogger, who uses an ever-changing seasonal palette of love, life and food to help her readers and clients fall madly in love with their lives.