Day Seven of Forty

So, for 40 days and 40 nights—one or the other—I intend to post here in word counts in increments or multiples of 40, so from 40 words to 1,600, but probably somewhere in between most days. My intention is to “write through the Divide”—we all know…the one that we Americans apparently are split between. But I call bull on that, because we are not so divided as we think we are. I’ll keep this paragraph of my intro for each post, so if you’re seeing this for what feels like the bazillionth time, sorry, but someone else may be seeing it for the first time.

Stepping off the Triangle

When I last wrote about the drama triangle here, I speculated that an herb like agrimony might help people physically—and psychologically—to get some distance on the persecutor-victim-rescuer drama in their lives. I still wonder that, but there are no large-scale, randomized-controlled, double-blind studies to “prove” the efficacy of agrimony for this particular use.

Still, in the years since and through self-exploration, I think “Green Beings”, whether plants or trees, can help us gain perspective, if we are willing to visit with them and consider how they live.

But the first step is always awareness and I suspect many people are not aware of their roles in enacting dramas in their lives. I like the mantra: Neither a persecutor, nor a victim, nor a rescuer be. If it sounds made-up, it is—it’s one of my mantras and I wish more people would steal it.

No position on the triangle feels good, so why do we persist in playing?

goldenrodandgrasshopperbyleighglenn2016

Exploring nature can swing us into parasympathetic-dominant mode and allow us to self-reflect and get off the drama triangle.

As crazy as it sounds, it’s because what doesn’t involve drama is something we’ve got to accustom ourselves to. Living without drama may be a natural state for humans—love is also a natural state for us—but “natural” doesn’t mean we’re inclined toward it. Drama and its effects orient our brain a certain way and the desire for lack of drama—a low-key existence—requires us to shift it away from that orientation and that’s not easy. By low-key, I do not mean less exciting, just exciting in more joyful ways.

What makes the drama triangle such an icky place to hang out is because its presence in our lives indicates a lack of acceptance and execution of one’s full power (either us or the other person we’re “playing” with on the triangle). That cannot ever feel really good, even if in a kind of temporary way it makes us feel something: Persecutor: “I’m better than you.” Victim: “I’m not lovable—that’s why they’re being so mean to me.” Rescuer: “I need to step in and help this person, because it’s obvious s/he can’t do it for themselves.”

These three have one thing in common: ego.

I treat ego like this: I need to be aware that I have one. I still think from time to time I need its “oomph” when I come up short asserting myself. Yet, even there, I have found that simply by not generating thoughts that touch into “persecutor”, “victim” or “rescuer,” it’s easier to assert my true self. The second I think something like, “It’s hard to get their attention. Why are they not paying attention to me?” is the second I step on the triangle and then it’s akin to digging in and the people whose attention I’m trying to get are giving me exactly what I want.

I am working toward an emotional worldview that looks at and senses each person standing in her or his power, no matter who the person is. This is especially challenging in our present, divisive atmosphere, because it often feels like many, though not all, people are set in their ways, however those ways align with the larger groups with which they identify. It would be helpful for all of us to ditch media for some self-reflection. We might find ourselves happier for doing so. But I cannot deny that self-reflection and self-work are easily achieved. I’ve been working on me for years and expect I will for years to come. And that’s okay. I have all the time in the universe.

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A Time for Letting Go

Autumn is an especially good time to assess where we’ve been and where we are. Doing this sets the stage for winter, the go-inside time, a time for dreaming and breathing new visions that can come to fruition in the coming months or years.AutumnLeaves

The assessment process is akin to psychic closet-cleaning: Does this attitude still suit me? Would I look (and feel) better if I integrated this particular state of mind into my mental/emotional wardrobe? The fact is, sometimes we have to make room for the new by first getting rid of the old.

But just like cleaning out the closet, some psychic clothing is hard to get rid of. It’s like finding a toy from childhood in the box way over to the side on the back shelf. It is still there, taking up space. And while it may signify in ways, a better, less complicated time of life, it still begs the question: Why am I hanging on to this?

For me, mental/emotional downsizing has been an ongoing process. What amazes me most is that, based on the majority of the people I’ve met over the years, we all have a natural inclination toward growth. Growth can be quite uncomfortable—just ask any 10-year old with growing pains!

To a great extent, plants can help us to better align with our soul’s purpose here—both the general human purpose, which is to be about love for one another—as well as the specific purpose and purposes for which we exist. Whether we simply sit with plants and sketch them and note what feelings arise in us as we do, or whether we take them internally as medicine, they can help strip away some of the strictures (either self-imposed or the deep-seated kinds that are inherent in old family or ancestral patterns—sometimes they are one and the same!) and enable new pieces of ourselves to land on fertile soil and germinate and take root.

I’ve written about agrimony before and its potential for helping to free us from the drama triangle—neither persecutor, nor victim, nor rescuer be! But other plants—those that can help us to “process” our experiences and work through our body’s excretion pathways (liver, kidneys, bladder, lungs, intestines, lymph, and skin) can also be helpful, because experience, which represents all of our interfacing with the world around us, also gets processed through these paths of excretion.

Although using plants is seldom a one-for-one, this-for-that endeavor, if we check in with ourselves and know what we’ve been feeling the previous season or months, we may have a better handle on which plants to look to. For example, anger is the realm of the liver, so bile-stimulating plants (dandelion root, burdock root, yellow dock as well as the yellow bitters, such as Oregon grape and goldenseal)Goldenseal berrying may be helpful. On a physiologic level, these herbs help to promote digestive secretions, so actually can help us to better digest our food. Anger, which can throw us into sympathetic-dominant mode, makes it hard for us to digest our food, which is why it’s best not to eat when we’re angry. But given all the anger-causing potential of our culture, people can experience low-grade anger for long periods of time—and that can depress digestive function.

Many medicinals are diuretic, but typically spare minerals, unlike synthetic diuretics, which can deplete potassium and others. In Chinese medicine, the kidneys are where one’s essence is stored and are also the seat of fear. So, if you check in and have been feeling a lot of fear in recent months, certain plants may help you process that energy. Nettle leaf, dandelion leaf, plantain leaf—these are all mild herbs and taste pretty good, too. Nettle is specifically tonic and nutritive for the kidneys.

Many other plants provide both physiologic and energetic effects to those who take them. Of course, intention is everything and that’s why it’s nice to approach any use of plants with intention—whether the intention is to resolve a specific issue and heal or just to feel more secure in ourselves. Volumes can and have been written about plants as medicines and plants as energy workers. If you have questions about using plants in either of these ways, you can always e-mail me at artofearth at yahoo dot com.

And for people who are on medications that may prevent them from using alcohol extracts or teas, there are a whole host of flower essences they can use that work specifically on the energetic level and won’t interact with the pharmaceuticals.

This information is intended for educational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any particular condition. For help with specific conditions, consult a healthcare practitioner who is qualified to help you. If you want to use plant medicines as part of your healing process, consult an herbalist.