A tonic for the heart


I stand barefoot in the garden. The late afternoon hours now arrive with a cool, methodical rain. While harvesting a healthy bundle of Motherwort, Leonurus cardiaca, I take a closer look at the mane of microscopic flowers that nestle themselves around the axis of each opposite-extending leaf pair. The blushing, orchid-shaped flowers are pleasant to the eye and sharp to the touch. I photograph the long-cherished plant while Teresa prepares to discuss the herb in her presentation on Nature As Medicine: Plant-Based Healing for Anxiety and Depression. She tells me that Motherwort is amazing. A member of the mint family, known anti-depressant and, as implied by the species name cardiaca, is “a gentle, strengthening tonic for the heart.”

There is a long history of herbal-based remedies for mental clarity and overall wellbeing. According to Ranchor Prime, “the sages [of Vedic civilization] carefully studied and recorded the herbal and medicinal properties of the forest.” But rather than simply consider the physiological uses of harvested plants, “the forest provided a place of peace and harmony with God where the spiritual goals of life could be pursued by forest sages” (Prime, 23).

Nature as Medicine

With nostalgia, I think back to my own experience of Vedic culture. It was the Fall of 2014 and I myself was a pilgrim of the Vaisnava tradition as I again walked barefoot through the sacred land of Vrindavan, India. We looked for Krishna—a Sanskrit name for God—in the landscape and cherished the forest as His home. It is here that I decided that the forest of Vrindavan is my home, too… even more than the lush forest of the Shenandoah. However, today I see these forests as united, and I remind myself that Vrindavan is always there present when carried in the heart.

The spiritual world is here and the material world is here. The difference is in your consciousness. When you have spiritual consciousness – you are in the spiritual world.
—Sacinandana Swami

My Home Is Deep in the Forest

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