This summer is too quickly coming to a close as we near the Autumnal Equinox in mid September. The energy the past couple months has felt really heavy and dense. I find myself feeling anxious and overwhelmed.
To help combat these unwelcome energies I always turn to nature to help me through. Nature is our greatest friend and mindfulness partner. It provides us with everything we need, if we just take the time to look, smell, listen, feel and taste. The natural world is a sensory experience that can aid us on our healing journeys, whether we need a cleansing of our minds, bodies or souls (or all 3!).
When all else fails my advice is always, to find a tree and give it a hug. It's a valuable lesson for children as well, learning to take a moment to be present and mindfully in tune with nature whenever you need.
Take a moment to sit outside in your yard and look at the plants around you. Do you see anything besides the grass? You may have clovers, dandelions and plantain. I often lose myself for long moments searching for 4-leafed clovers and if I'm patient sometimes I even find one!
We often overlook things we see each day and forget how comforting just running your fingers through grass can truly be!
Plantain is one such plant that is often overlooked but is an important medicinal herb.
What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
There are two common varieties growing around us, Broadleaf Plantain and Narrow Leaf Plantain (pictured below respectively)
These plants are everywhere and are easy to identify. Native to Europe, Plantain was called White Man's Foot by the Native Americans because the seeds were carried everywhere by the settlers' shoes.
They grow in a rosette pattern and have thick veins running on the underside of the leaf. The names can help you figure out which species you are looking at, whether the leaves are broad or narrow. Both have fantastic medicinal properties and my children call them nature’s band aids!
Have a bug bite you can’t help but itch? Find a fresh green plantain leaf, chew it up and place the mashed up bits on the bite. Viola! Itch be gone! Here is my son when he was younger, learning the benefits of this magical plant. I've also used it for bee stings and nettle stings!
You can use a blender or mortar and pestle to grind the leaves into a pulp to release its healing antiseptic properties. This ancient method of healing is called a poultice.
You can also collect the leaves and add them into a salad. They have a spinach-like taste and a burst of vitamins to boot! When dried they make an excellent tea that can aid in soothing congestion.
I invite you to check out what kinds of plants are growing in your own backyard and get to know them. You can draw, paint, take a photo and then look them up in a field guide or online to help you identify them. By taking the time to get to know the plants we have growing right around us we can develop a deeper connection with them and the natural world as a whole.
What plants are you feeling drawn to lately? Have you ever tried using plantain? We’d love to hear from you!
Happy plant gazing,