Today I'm going to share some of my story for the @naturalmedicine Contest, Win SBD by sharing your Natural Medicine Story!!.
@naturalmedicine is a new Steemit community created by @riverflows, @holisticmom and myself. We seek to bring together and incentivize quality posts detailing our lived experiences with natural medicine, including herbalism, energy medicine, yoga, meditation, food & diet, experiences in nature, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, crystal healing, and more!
This week's contest asks the question,
How has a natural medicine impacted your life?
Photo of a Monarch Butterfly eating on a cosmos at our homestead. All photos, as usual unless otherwise noted, are taken by me.
I have been encouraged by the depth and honesty of some of these posts, notably @walkerland's post and @eftnow's video and am feeling inspired to share a story that had a huge transformative effect on my life. I have written a bit about this story, but it's quite personal so I haven't shared it with too many people. And this is the first time I'm writing it down in its entirety!
As is the case with natural medicine, at times we can have blocks to even trying it. We're taught to accept and prize things proven by science and if a thing doesn't have studies backing it or seems "too far out there" it may limit us even reaching out toward it. I didn't grow up around natural medicine and this path was one I took on my own. I had to get through a lot of fear and that is partially what my story is about.
For me as well the religion of my upbringing, a conservative form of Evangelical Christianity, also held me back from going toward some of the natural healing modalities I was attracted to. I thought about leaving this part out, but it's a large part of my tale.
So without further ado,
Here is my story
I think one could probably say that the story began on a cold winter's day in the Bloomington University 10th Street Library.
It was December and nearing toward final's time so the libraries were packed with students cramming 4 months of knowledge into a week's time.
I had recently moved to Bloomington from Indianapolis, Indiana to pursue a degree in Outdoor Recreation, Conservation and Education and moved in with my grandmother, my mom's mom, for my first semester. I loved living with her and we relished our times together talking about our lives.
This cold day however was to be the end of all of that as I received a phone call from my mom who was silent on the other end. Immediately I knew something was up. My grandmother had died.
Never having dealt with the death of a close loved one or favorite relative, I took the death quite hard.
I also didn't have the skills to cope with it and, as is common in our culture that prizes happiness and getting over things relatively quickly, I didn't process or mourn her death well. It ended up haunting me in a way and living inside of me, working like a stone in an oyster shell. Over 10 years later, I don't see this as a negative thing, although then it was challenging to live through the next few years.
Many people wait for their 50s to have a "mid-life crisis". My grandmother's death acted like a catalyst in me to "ask all the questions and do all of the things I was afraid to do". This was compounded because a week before she died unexpectedly (she had sprung back after two bouts of cancer, diabetes and many other life challenges and was healthy at this point), we were having a conversation about what she wanted to do before she died. This was the stone that worked inside of me. What is it exactly I want to do before I die and why am I afraid to do it? I promptly cut my hair, acted on bicurious thoughts and smoked marijuana for the first time. I also stopped going to church, which was a major life turning point.
During this time I carried great sadness and was legitimately depressed but had never had depression before and so I struggled to function through the weight of these shifts in relative privacy save for a few friends and a private journal I kept. That was all to change on one fateful day...
You see, my entrance into natural medicine began in a very dark period in my life.
I was in perfect physical condition, but my soul was ailing and I was a wreck. I got perfect grades and had an active social life, but inside I was a huge question mark. As I walked around campus, everyone looked sad to me and I kept questioning the meaning of life and why people even bothered to get out of bed in the morning or had any motivation to live. Everything seemed pointless and absurd, and beyond that, downright painful.
The day of change came when my friend invited me to a healing arts fair. She had a booth for our local Adventure Group and as I wandered around, one woman in particular caught my eye. I moseyed over to her booth and nibbled on the Newman O's she had at her table. Slowly I started to reveal my story, opening up in an uncharacteristic way. I broke down in a room full of people as layers of myself started to open in her warm and loving presence. I sat crying in her chair and after the rush of my story ended, I was mortified to be so revealed in a public space. I promised to meet with her for a peace circle at a nearby church the next week, oddly enough the same church my parents were married in. Immediately after I got home I had horrible anxiety, How could I go meet with this woman now? She sees me! I was terrified. This back and forth energy was to characterize my next year.
I went to the peace circle at the church my parents were married at, bringing a few friends in tow, and immediately the crux appeared. This woman was a pagan. She had stones and pieces of driftwood, tarot cards and candles, pinecones and leaves in an altar on the floor. She even had crystals! A true witch! Immediately I was at war with myself and shrunk inside. How could I reconcile this form of healing with my Christian upbringing? Witches are the antithesis of Christianity and I was stepping into the dark side even being there!! The juxtaposition was that the energy that I felt when I was with her was unlike anything I'd ever encountered. I saw myself in her. I knew her and that terrified me.
So began my battle.
In a World of Black and White, is there room for Shades of Grey?
A literal tug of war began inside of me. I felt attraction to this woman who was my mother's age unlike anything I could explain. It was a magnetic pull. And I wrestled with it. On one side I wanted to be open to these experiences and on the other I was literally in soul-shaking terror asking if she was evil!
So I avoided her. Hell, I even avoided the entire town and went away on an internship states away at a Unitarian Universalist Retreat Center. My mind and heart were opening, but I couldn't handle the pressure. This woman, a certified counselor in her past, was also an energy healer practicing reiki, stone therapy, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), and a host of other modalities. Though on some level I knew I needed her medicine, I wasn't ready.
We kept in touch through email and still that stone turned inside of me. My experience at the UU center was amazing. I had mystical experiences in nature and lived with 3 other amazing women, all of us on varying journeys but coming together over a shared passion for earth care, social justice and an interest in spirituality. I found other mentors on the top of this Appalachian mountain hosting the oldest dwarf white oak old growth forest on earth and during this time my soul relaxed into the idea of joining again with this healer.
I share all of this to let you, dear reader, fully in on my journey.
Though many of you may not be able to grasp the resistance I held inside to even step foot into Alternative Modalities, this was a very real and terrifying journey for me. The blocks people have may not be financial, they may actually be waged on a larger scale. For me, my path slowly tore down the black and white thinking of my upbringing. It massaged the boundaries between "good and evil" and invited me into the nuance of life where we are neither "all good" nor "all bad". As I was breaking down the idea that there is an Ultimate Truth (as my religious upbringing engrained in me), I was discovering many other truths along the way, truths that had the power to and indeed did set me free.
I also want to say at this point that it's not mutually exclusive. People of all faiths can be into Natural Medicine. For me, it touched on elements of my upbringing that made me feel uncomfortable with it, but I understand not all people will feel this way!
Coming Back To Myself
As the internship came to an end, I was searching for my next step.
This same woman encouraged me to go to a Permaculture Course that was held for 2 weeks every summer saying, "You'll meet people there who care like you do." That week was one of the most transformative of my entire life. I opened up in ways I couldn't believe. It was my first experience of the earth's energies rising up through my feet in an ecstatic shiver through my entire body. The energy in my fingertips was palpable. Experiencing this with many people of my own age was cathartic, enervating and ultimately life-shattering. I was never to "go back" to my old way of viewing the world and ultimately this fortnight set the stage for the next decade's unfolding.
Shortly thereafter I went to visit this woman for sessions in energy healing. It's a long lead up I realize (haha) leading to the actual practice and experience of natural medicine, but this entire story is my medicine. Our stories are the medicine of our lives. In my darkest hour I searched for people telling stories I could relate to and it's in this incredibly specific and nuanced vein that I tell my story which is the medicine itself.
The Wound is the place where the light enters you
It was necessary for me to be completely broken down before I started sessions with her. At this point, I was 100% in the sessions. I knew my shit I wanted to work through. I knew my blocks, I knew my pain and fears, I knew the places where the light enters.
And Light did enter!
She said, "You could've spent years in talk therapy." What I did with her was much more direct, powerful, movement oriented. It was energetic. Our sessions were a mix of therapies in her "energy healing toolbox" that she had collected over the years. We talked, we tapped (EFT), we jumped and shouted, we screamed and I cried! I cried and broke down and that light found ample home in my body. She tapped on me and I could feel my meridians (known throughout varying healing modality systems like TCM, Reiki, Acupuncture and more) open up and channel energy. I had been STUCK and needed a master destucker to signal my body to flow once more.
It comes to mind that this may seem way "out there" to people reading. I will just say this, it is only out there if you haven't experience it yourself. I very much felt my energy moving, I could feel knots untying and cells reorienting. My words are a doorway to walk through if you want. I'm making claims for myself and perhaps they'll shed light for someone else. If you think it's bunk, that's okay with me!
But ya know what, I'm going to lean into that one a little bit!! This woman was a person I absolutely needed to learn from and heal with on an energetic level!
When we met there was a soul resonance and I've only had a few others at this depth and level in my entire life. I learned from her on an energetic level and sometimes you find holistic healers like that in your life. Blessed if you do! After walking the path I did out from the black and white thinking and into the rainbow actually, not just shades of grey, I can talk the talk to do the research, make people feel comfortable by only sharing parts of my story, fit in, and share the "safer things" that are scientifically proven. But literally I have gone to pretty out there spaces and that's great. Things only become more normalized if we start talking about them and people only feel safe to go there (and please trust your own intuition on these things, not all "out there" healers are legit or have anything to offer you) if it's less stigmatized.
And especially in our culture that approaches depression through talk therapy or "the pill fix", I think Natural Medicines can be real allies in these instances.
If you are listening and interested, this next part was the icing on the cake.
She had a crystal bed!
Literally a bed full of quartz crystals that radiated energy through the crystals. After our sessions I would lay in here as long as I wanted and it cleared my energy systems. I was flying! I realized that it was a peek into my future in that my energy system still had a lot of healing to do (and this isn't a one-time thing I've discovered, but really a practice). After laying in the bed I would journal the thoughts I'd had, the visions about my future and it was my way of grounding that incredible energy so that one day I could walk into it. In this way, I stepped out of my depression and into myself.
The images of the butterflies and flowers throughout allude to the transformation that takes place when we are on our healing journey!
This was the foundation to many aspects of my healing journey. Perhaps for another day are the next steps that unfolded:
- Studying Reiki
- Meditation, including long retreats
- Yoga and breathing techniques
- Herbalism and Wild Foods
- More trips in nature which heals and restores me
- Work with Naturopaths
- Community Ritual and Circle
- Studying & Practicing Massage
- Food as healing
- Natural Building (yes living in earthen buildings is a form of natural medicine!)
- And more
My journey into Natural Medicine started when I met this very special woman, but it didn't stop there. Healing is a lifelong journey and my path also includes occasional visits to the modern doctors when necessary.
These are crucial steps that I've taken during my journey on earth to become a more whole human. Why are we here? For me, natural medicine is a large part of my path. Healing and being healthy isn't separate from who I am or what I'm doing with my life. As I mentioned above, we are the medicine and as we do the work on ourselves uncovering, peeling back layers, looking deeper, and shedding, the medicine shines like that pearl. The stone must do its work though!
My point in sharing my journey is to be transparent and SHARE MY STORY! I've never shared it in this wholeness before, especially to a loving group of interested souls that are here with me on Steemit. Thanks for being you! There is still a lot more time for our contest so please share some of your journey with #naturalmedicine if you feel inspired.