I love to meditate. Taking time each day to center myself helps me to fulﬁll the roles I have taken on in life, from parenting and spouse, to herbalist to business owner, to someone involved in religious life too!
Of course, I have read research regarding the health beneﬁts of meditation and they are important, too, from lowering blood pressure, to reducing insomnia and more, but broccoli is good for me and I don’t eat it every day! It is the stress reducing, free ﬂowing mental state that meditation induces that brings me back for more.
Even with all of this meditation, I still have days when it is harder to let go and just be still within myself. It is at these times in my life that I turn to my decades of experience as a traditional and natural health practitioner and pick a few herbs to add to my tea:
- Gotu cola — The Indian herb gotu cola is steeped in lore about longevity and peace of mind, not to mention meditation. It is thought to help neutralize acidity in the blood, which cools the body down and makes being calm easier. It is also considered a central nervous system stimulant; it may help those who tend to fall asleep when they sit down to meditate. Other traditionally ascribed attributes for this herb include balancing the nervous system, improving cognitive skills, and helping those with depression or anxiety.
- Sage — Sage is a classic North American herb for burning in meditation spaces, but a tiny bit in tea can be grounding and balancing, as well. I often add a tip of the leaf to my tea if I am working with white sage. I add a tiny pinch of kitchen sage if that is what’s available. Due to its effects on acetylcholine and other, related body chemistry, it can have an anxiety reducing effect, and it can even help the body create a greater feeling of contentedness.
- Bacopa — Bacopa has become a popular herb in the last 10 years, and, like gotu cola, much of its history comes from India. One traditional use for this herb has been to give some to the elderly who show signs of failing mental faculties. In the last 30-40 years, many studies have been done with children to assess the effects of bacopa on health issues, such as attention deﬁcit disorder. These studies have had encouraging results. It is thought to improve the way the brain uses proteins and may even aid with neuron repair. A better brain for better meditation? That’s fantastic!
- Passionflower herb — Passionﬂower herb is thought to calm the nervous system and increase serotonin, a mood balancing bit of brain juice that we make all of the time. For those who get nervous and depressed, this can be a great aid to meditation. It has been used as a sleep aid for centuries. Passionﬂower herb is thought to cool the mind and calm the spirit, an ideal combination for achieving elusive meditative states.
- Blue Lily Flower — Blue lily ﬂower, also known as blue lotus, is a dreamy herb with ties to ancient Egypt. This is an herb that can bite back, causing upset stomachs and more if over taken; as with all herbs, use with respect for its power. It has a long history of use as a sedative and as an herb used to reduce anxiety. It also goes great in the right cocoa blend.
There are many other wonderful herbs for meditation. In fact, this entire issue of The Edge could be ﬁlled with nothing but herbs for meditation and there would still be more to cover.
Liz Johnson is presenting the class Herbs for Meditation on Wednesday, Jan. 25, at Magus Books & Herbs. Go to www.MagusHealingCenter.com or call 612.379.7669.