(By Paolo Propato, LAc) Those who read my blog posts know that they are mostly about self reflection. During the past couple of years I have been immersed in training for my certification in Chinese herbology, which has given me lots to reflect on.
A few years ago I planted a honeysuckle vine in my back yard. People told me it was a stupid idea due to its invasive nature but there is something about honeysuckles that makes me smile. Especially on a clear night with a bright moon, with the window open, when out of nowhere her fragrance fills the kitchen and everyone instantly smiles and someone says, “Did you smell that?” It's like a friend that shows up at your front door and you're grateful that they took the time to stop by.
I don't pick the honeysuckle, although it is a very useful medicinal in East Asian medicine that is great for viral infections, fevers, skin problems and other issues. Below the honeysuckle, my wife planted chamomile, which this year finally started to take. My son and I often go out and pick the tender blossoms in the mornings.
As I sit out there at night to look up at the stars and catch a whiff of the flowers, I think about the relationship between the honeysuckle above, and the chamomile below.
I imagine the chamomile looking up at the honeysuckle and wondering, “How is she going up so fast and so high, opening herself to the moonlight, attracting the world with her scent, and here I am low and in the dirt.” Or the honeysuckle saying, “Here I am, climbing up so high I can reach the door, giving my scent, and yet this family does not pick me for medicine. Instead they walk down the steps and pick the chamomile to bring inside.”
The truth is, they are both without the burden of losing who they are. They react to what is around them-- water, soil quality, etc-- but no matter what, they never lose their essence of moving towards flowering and allowing life to fully express itself through them.
We are no different. Our families and environmental conditions are the soil and air qualities, but you still always hold the essence of who you are.
We see in herbal medicine that a particular herb may be used in a specific way in East Asia but a different way in Europe and even another in Native American medicine. That hints to the complexity of layers that a single herb may have, much as the same woman may be known as a beacon of safety to her young child, as a klutz to her friend and as a leader to her coworkers. Same person, different layers.
We are all on our own path, and all we must do is be, according to who we are, just like the honeysuckle and chamomile. This is what the art of medicine is at its core-- to help and assist fully who we are.
The gift of the acupuncture profession is seeing the patient flourish-- physically, mentally, spiritually.
As we approach the end of summer, please take a moment to smell the honeysuckles or whatever nature has in bloom at the moment. Take a moment to say thank you not only for the fragrance but also your body's ability to smell this gift. Then take a moment and follow the fragrance inside and say thank you to your body, your personality, your family, friends, even your enemies for providing the opportunity for life to manifest through you. See that you are a gift. Or maybe sit down with a cup of chamomile tea and reflect on your own observation about life. I would love to hear them.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.