I don’t know about you, but this summer was hotter and busier than I anticipated. Busier in that I was feeling particularly bombarded with lots of things I wanted to do but never seemed to get to. These expectations were not met (natch) and the resulting sadness and judgement over whether I “should have been better at (fill in the blank)…organizing, knowing my limits, prioritizing, etc.” hung over me like a fine gauze. The list could go on, to no one’s benefit. My biggest disappointment was the fact I didn’t spend as much time in my garden as I wanted to. So, as the weeds grew, I stood and watched with mounting anxiety: here I am, an herbalist with a weed infested garden. This is my calling and my love, yet I can’t seem to get out there and just weed it, for gosh sakes! The more I watched, the more the weed thrived and the more overwhelmed I felt at the clean up that needed to be done. My expectations were exceeding my abilities to do it and this feeling of overwhelm-ness was starting to seep into other parts of my life. Summer passed. Fall began with the grasses turning brown which only served to highlight the still-green, struggling plants.
So, I did the only thing I could think of: step back, take a few breaths and let it go. And I mean, let go of the whole darn thing: the disappointment in myself, the sadness of losing some plants to the weed competitors, my expectations of a beautiful, well managed garden (as in Home and Garden magazine), and the anger that I let it go untended for so long. That is when I noticed how exhausted I was. I was allowing myself to really feel all the emotions associated with this perceived failure on my part and it was exhausting and draining. The garden, once my refuge, was now a source of anxiety and blame.
That’s when I saw the bugs. And the bees. And the volunteer herbs that struggled through that mess who were actually thriving! I took a closer look at this community of seemingly tangled, messy, overgrown mismash of unwanted plants and grass and realized that it had a part to play in the evolving ecology of the garden: crazy large swaths of Holy Basil, Feverfew, Milkweed, Blue Vervain, Mullein and Passion Flower. They attracted pollinators both large and small, several types of bees, numerous spiders and Preying Mantis. Energetically , these plants were calling out RELAX, WE’VE GOT THIS. It was like getting a comforting letter from an old friend: reassuring me that however things had changed, we’re still good together and don’t worry so much. That’s when I felt the release of all this pent up anxiety and frustration. I could actually relax while sitting in the garden. I talked with the plants and the response was this: we tend to you and you tend to us, so this is our way of showing we care. It’s a two-way street. Some weeding would be nice, but we’re actually doing quite fine. Thank you for asking.
By now you may be asking, what has this got to do with Yin deficiency? It has to do with how we get caught up in grief and loss without even being aware of it. Of how this depletes our supply of Yin, that part of us which cools so we don’t get overheated and start running off our adrenals. Of how uncomfortable it is to admit that you are feeling saddened by something that doesn’t rate as truly traumatic such as a terrible accident, death of a loved one, loss of a house or loss of a job. I’m not downplaying the magnitude of these events. I have had my share of loses throughout my life. However, don’t discount the power of smaller griefs in our lives. These too can take their toll on our well-being and health. Our own expectations can be causing us sorrow and pain. Rebecca in the Kings Road Apothecary newsletter writes on the topic of Yin and how to nourish it. She is an herbalist based in California and has some good insights about our Yin side.
I will end with this thought: our bodies carry our histories of loss and joy, grief and hope. Acknowledging and honoring the presence of these feelings goes a long way in helping us maintain both our physical and inner balance in changing times. This honoring can be achieved through a variety of means and often involves a combination of several different activities (herbs, yoga, meditation, physical activity, therapy, friends, etc). By creating your own toolbox of healing you develop a support system that is specific to you and your needs and enables you to more easily navigate the difficult parts of life. May you walk shining into your day.