Love After Love
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
All feelings are only looking for a loving home, for mercy and protection.
Feelings that have been resisted, pushed away, denied, banished, do not actually disappear; they live on in the darkness of the Unconscious, homeless and hungry for love, pulling the strings in our relationships, our bodies, our work in the world, getting in the way of our joy. Screaming for attention, deep down in the Underworld, they sap and drain our vitality and self-expression, cause us to become reactive, compulsive and obsessive, depressed and anxious, and ultimately affect our physical health... all in their attempt to get us to listen.
Until one day, we remember, all feelings are sacred and have a right to exist in us, even the messiest and most inconvenient and painful ones. And we remember to turn towards our feelings instead of running away. To soften into them. To make room for them instead of numbing them out or ignoring them.
These hungry ghosts, now fed with our love, our warm attention, our curiosity and Presence, now given a home in us, can finally come to rest. They no longer need to pull the strings in our lives. They now have the empathy they always longed for.
So much of our precious life force, our prana, our chi, our sacred energy, is spent on this Sisyphean task of pushing feelings away, trying to make them go 'somewhere else', but where would they go? For even the Underworld is within us. So much creativity is released, so much relief is felt, when we break this age-old pattern of self-abandonment, go beyond our fearful conditioning, and try something totally new: staying close to feelings, not pushing them away, as they emerge in the freshness of the moment, looking for their true home – which is our own hearts.
I am eternally grateful to the gods of the Underworld for keeping my feelings safe until I was ready to feel them, for protecting me from what I was not yet ready to protect.
- Jeff Foster
Notes on Tulsi AKA Holy Basil
Today’s plant ally is TULSI, aka HOLY BASIL
Tulsi is an aromatic shrub in the basil family. She’s thought to have originated in north central India and now grows native throughout the eastern world tropics.
The NIH-National Library of Medicine- calls Tulsi “an herb for all reasons’
Within Ayurveda, tulsi is known as “The Incomparable One,” “Mother Medicine of Nature” and “The Queen of Herbs,” and is revered as an “elixir of life” for both her medicinal and spiritual properties
Within India, tulsi has been adopted into spiritual rituals and lifestyle practices that provide a vast array of health benefits that are just beginning to be confirmed by modern science.
This emerging science on tulsi, which reinforces ancient Ayurvedic wisdom, suggests that she is a tonic for the body, mind and spirit that offers solutions to many modern day health problems.
Tulsi has a unique combination of actions that include: Antimicrobial (including antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antiprotozoal and antimalarial)
She’s also anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, chemopreventive, radioprotective, hepato-protective, neuro-protective, cardio-protective, anti-diabetic.
She has immunomodulatory actions- meaning she can turn the immune system up or down, depending on what it needs.
She’s also been shown to have anti-anxiety and anti-depressant properties, with effects comparable to diazepam and antidepressants drugs.
Some also refer to her as “Liquid Yoga”. Regular consumption of tulsi tea has been compared to yoga practice, which is why she’s considered “adaptogenic”
Basically, she has a wide range of actions that help the body and mind cope with a wide range of chemical, physical, infectious and emotional stresses and restore physiological and psychological function- hence HOLY BASIL
Drink her as a tea or strong infusion, take her as a tincture or capsule- however you like, it’s a good idea to have her in your at-home apothecary.
Sometimes if you move carefully through the forest
breathing like the ones in the old stories
who could cross a shimmering bed of dry leaves without a sound,
you come to a place whose only task
is to trouble you with tiny but frightening requests
conceived out of nowhere but in this place beginning to lead everywhere.
Requests to stop what you are doing right now, and
to stop what you are becoming while you do it,
questions that can make or unmake a life,
questions that have patiently waited for you,
questions that have no right to go away.
- David Whyte