As we slowly approach winter, nature calls for introspection, and the calendar invites us to make an assessment of the past year. This is the time to think about our path: Is “who we are” in line with “who we want to be”? What did we achieve, and what remains to be done?
This exercise is not that simple and requires self-awareness. Sometimes, introspection also means we have to face our fears, failures and scars. But, the benefit is worth it: a balanced, open-minded and peaceful life.
Living in big, busy (chaotic) Las Vegas, I often get the question (and ask myself too!): How do you stay connected to nature? I think the first step of staying connected to nature is to listen to ourselves, our true being – our intuitive, sensitive, and animal self. Nature is pure, raw and never lies, and our ‘true being’ will always have a connection to it.
The Importance of Self-Awareness
Many of us cannot easily answer questions such as: “Are you happy?” or, “What do you want?”. I suggest you ask yourself the tough questions and do not be afraid of the answers, because knowing them can lead to better and more loving choices.
Some questions to try include:How do I feel, right now? Why did those words hurt? Why do I feel uncomfortable in this situation? Reflection – and listening to your own feedback – is the key to living your life in a more intuitive way. Being aware of your emotions, your body’s sensations and what brings you pleasure or pain can be incredibly powerful.
Introspection can help us understand our choices. It helps us be true to ourselves and honest with others. It can even provide benefit on a physiological level. Knowing how your body feels can help you understand what is out of balance and to make adjustments before becoming ill.
Once we take this step and make peace with all of who we are, we can finally feel empowered.
Let us talk about Yarrow for a moment...what is it? Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is a long-stemmed member of the sunflower family found in the wild throughout the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. It can be recognized by its highly segmented leaves (millefolium literally means “thousand leaves”), and the clusters of daisy-like white or lavender flowers at the top of the stalk.
Greek myth had it that Achilles painted himself with a tincture of yarrow to make himself invulnerable to arrows, everywhere on his body except his heel. Native American herbal medicine makes extensive use of yarrow. Among the Micmac people of Maine, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, the stalk was chewed or stewed to induce sweating to “break” fevers and colds. They also pounded the stalks into a pulp to be applied to bruises, sprains, and swelling.
The Cherokee, Gosiute, Iroquois, and Mohegan peoples used it as a digestive aid. Other herbal healing traditions use yarrow to treat a variety of conditions characterized by swelling, often combined with echinacea, elder flower, ginger, and peppermint.
I purchase my yarrow bulk from Mountain Rose Herbs, which has been my favorite, reliable, organic source for herbs for decades. I make my own teas, tinctures and poultices as needed. For those who like to wildcraft herbs themselves, check with herbalists or experts in your area to see if yarrow is a native plant to your local environment.
Benefits of Yarrow
Yarrow is one of my go-to herbs for children. It is helpful in relieving fevers, shortening the duration of cold and flu, helping improve relaxation during illness, and relieving cramps associated with hormones or illness. Applied topically, it is helpful with skin itching, rash or other issues.
An external tincture or poultice will often help with hemorrhoids, rashes and broken skin. Some people will notice relief from allergy symptoms by drinking a tea of yarrow and mint.
“Yarrow flower used in chronic diseases of the urinary apparatus, is especially recommended by Prof. J. M. Scudder. It exerts a tonic influence upon the venous system, as well as upon mucous membranes. It has been efficacious in sore throat, hemoptysis, hematuria and other forms of hemorrhage where the bleeding is mall in amount; incontinence of urine, diabetes, hemorrhoids with bloody and mucoid discharges, and dysentery. Also in amenorrhea, flatulency and spasmodic diseases, and in the form of injection in leucorrhea with relaxed vaginal walls. It will be found to be one of our best agents for the relief of menorrhagia.”
Priest & Priest tell us that it is a mild, slow, and stimulating diaphoretic that is best used for the first stage of acute fevers, and for atonic and relaxed tissues where there is free discharge or passive hemorrhage of bright red blood. They recommend cold preparations to stimulate the appetite and tone the digestive organs, and give the following specific indications: Acute stage of colds; influenza and respiratory catarrhs; chronic diarrhea and dysentery; epistaxis; intestinal hemorrhage, bleeding hemorrhoids, uterine hemorrhage; profuse or protracted menstruation; and leucorrhea.”
Ways We Use Yarrow in Our Home
In homemade Buckwheat Relaxation pillows to help promote restful sleep.
In sweet dreams sleep tincture for times when falling asleep is difficult.
In teas (with mint and chamomile) during illness.
As a tea, tincture or poultice on skin for rashes and itching.
As a tincture to help ease menstrual cramps and hormone issues (not for use during pregnancy).
Yarrow tea often helps with congestion symptoms from allergies and illness.
Adding yarrow to skin lotions, oils or salves can help with eczema or dry skin.
Add a strong yarrow tea to my girls' bath for a high fever that I want to bring down naturally.
As it is helpful in stopping bleeding and avoiding infection, poultices of yarrow and plantain can be helpful on wounds.
Not for use during pregnancy since it may stimulate the uterus, but I have personally used it in my post-labor tincture to help tone uterus, reduce cramping and avoid hemorrhage. Some people will develop a rash from touching the fresh plant. Should be avoided by those with allergies to ragweed.
How can essential oils can help you connect?
One of the best ways to achieve unity with your emotional and physical self is by using your senses, and the sense of smell is the perfect ally. Like any other life skill, this connection will improve with practice. The key to self-awareness is to let go of self-judgement, allow the ego to rest for a moment and for your body to ‘speak’. For me, this is incredibly liberating and benefits not only my self-understanding, but my knowledge of essential oils too!
Yarrow Introspection Ritual
I find Yarrow (A. millefolium) to be one of the best essential oils to work with when in need of introspection. I have personally used it to deal with several traumatic moments in my life, with great results.
First of all, Yarrow is benevolent. It wants to heal; it is full of compassion. Whatever comes out of this practice, Yarrow can help you process it without fear, and face underlying and sometimes stuck emotions. It will provide support for the whole practice to go smoothly, and to be of real benefit to you.
Begin with a quick centering and grounding exercise. To do this, close your eyes, become aware of your body, scan every part of it and take a few seconds to be grateful for your soul’s physical “home”. Then, focus on your breath, listen to your heartbeat and if you can, pay attention to your very existence. You can feel your spine, like an antenna between the energy of the earth and the skies; balanced, centered, and alive.
Then, open your bottle of Yarrow essential oil, slowly bringing it closer to your nose. As the aroma becomes stronger, allow any emotions, images, colors, or sensations to come to you, unfiltered. Hit pause, and ask yourself the questions suggested above.
As you get more comfortable with introspection, you can start asking deeper questions. Eventually, this will become second nature and support you to design your own unique, clear pathway in life, according to your true intentions. Have courage to look and accept what you find, let the amazing aromatic ally of Yarrow assist you, and you will be well on your way to becoming aligned with your true and beautiful self.
((**Note: I purchase my Yarrow essential oil from Florihana, as Young Living does not carry Yarrow currently. It is also recommended as a reliable, high-quality source by the school through which I did my aromatherapy training, New York Institute of Aromatic Studies. Let me tell you a briefly about Florihana. The Florihana distillery is situated in the beautiful Provence region of France, also known as the ‘French Riviera’. With over 20 years’ experience in distillation, Florihana has established itself as an aromatherapy brand par excellence, and is commonly used amongst aromatherapist in addition to American-based companies. Florihana produces a wide range of organic aromatherapy products – including over 100 single essential oils, as well as hydrosols (hydrolats), absolutes, carrier oils, synergies and mother tinctures.
I also like that all Florihana bottles are labelled with a distillation date and batch number for ultimate traceability (as is Young Living's). Unique GC/MS reports for each batch can be downloaded directly from their website, offering a level of transparency that is not often available by other brands. On their website you will find a full information profile for each essential oil, with various downloadable PDF data sheets to explore their safety precautions, chemical information and therapeutic properties in greater depth. Bottom line, I feel confident in using this brand as a supplemental source for essential oils that I cannot source via Young Living.))