Practicing Embodied Herbalism

By: Rachel Bull

Emotions are unavoidable, they exist whether we admit that they do or not. Another thing that seems to be unavoidable is society encouraging and rewarding us for suppressing or ignoring our emotions.

Maybe you were rewarded because you knew how to quickly recover from a painful circumstance or are admired for your unwavering positivity. We tend to go about life never wanting to be “the wet blanket”, “the party pooper”, “the Debbie downer”, the…choose your preferred idiom. They are not titles we want to be associated with. On the surface, I agree that I don’t want to be associated with these idioms either. But if we really think about it, we are basically saying that we don’t want to deal with the heavy news, the dark and shadow side of our experiences, or anything that brings us discomfort.

As an herbalist, I have come to gather first-hand experience with the way emotions wildly impact our sense of health and our journey of healing. In sessions, when we are discussing physical symptoms or concerns, there is almost always an emotional aspect involved. We feel things and it’s time to admit it in order for our bodies to properly heal.

We are doing ourselves a disservice when we only pay attention to our physical symptoms when practicing herbalism. Dr. Rachel Zoffness, a pain psychologist, says the pain that we experience is biopsychosocial. There are biological, psychological, and social aspects to our pain, and in order to fully heal we must pay attention to all of them.

As herbalists, we are not licensed to deal with mental health in the way a therapist would. I 1000% believe that seeing a mental health specialist or pain psychologist in conjunction with an herbalist is the way to go. And also, there are things we can do as herbalists to impact our emotions in big ways. In my own herbal practice, I lean heavily on the word embodiment to guide the way that I do things. In the same way that I mend a fever, I mend my anger. With care and permission to run its course however it might.

Another way that I tend to the entire body is by using embodiment practices. These are things like breathing exercises, meditation, going for walks, gazing into the sun, and jumping into cold water to bring me into the present moment so that I can get clear about what’s really going on internally.

Flower essences are a huge ally for me as I aim to practice embodied herbalism. Agrimony is one of my favorites, as it allows you to take off the proverbial mask that you’ve been hiding behind around others to avoid feeling certain emotions.

My go-to embodiment herbs are Rose for connecting to the emotional heart, Ginger for feeling grounded, Rosemary for keeping me sharp and in tune with my thoughts and memories, and Reishi which is an incredible spiritual herb that draws me into connection with my higher self.

As we continue on this journey through Earth, I hope that all humans and all genders find freedom in knowing that we inherently feel things. It is in fact unavoidable no matter how hard we try to suppress it. Leaning on our herb and flower essence allies along with our vitalist embodiment practices can bring us one step closer to healing in a fully embodied way.

If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, join me on Tuesday, December 12th at 6pm MT (in person or virtual) for a class called Healing through Feeling: Understanding Emotions to Practice Embodied Herbalism.

Sources: The Pain Management Workbook by Dr. Rachel Zoffness

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