yerba nomadica

Growth Hurts : Embodying Transformation by Embracing the Darkness

Carla FrankComment
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Growing Pains?

“We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.”
Anaïs Nin

Here in the desert southwest, we've already been experiencing the momentum of spring for months. Other places in world are just waking up to it.

And while the energy of spring embodies rebirth, growth, and the active outward energy of sun - we would be missing one of the biggest lessons of the season if we simplified the significance of this cacophony of spontaneous emergence into the finality of the fully actualized bloom.

The truth is that the rumble of change begins underground.

In the complete darkness, shrouded from view, the radicle emerges from a buried seed...

This first embryonic shoot serves to ground the developing plant into the earth before any upward and outward growth can occur.

A seed's radicle shares etomological roots (botany pun intended) with the socio-politically applied "radical," both meaning "returning to the origin" or literally "to have roots."

The analogy of the radicle as an essential step for our personal, spiritual and dare I say professional growth, is particularly apt considering the excessive visibility that is at best the norm and at worst required in our culture for social and professional engagement.

It can seem that taking the necessary time out of perpetual view ranges from rebellious to irresponsible depending on our sources of income.

And yet, we too require an amount of darkness & privacy to rejuvenate emotionally, creatively, spiritually - and even physically.

As two-legged, upright, brain dominant animals, we need periods of darkness to germinate into new stages and forms. Particularly during sleep, a time when total darkness signals our hormones to begin its natural proceses of healing, our body's energy should be necessarily and disproportionately focused on regenerating and rebuilding after a day of stress and activity.

But many fear "going dark." Whether that means pausing engagement on devices, or sitting with the discomforts that often accompanies deep growth and transformation.

And then there's spring....

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Ahh, spring-time, when the energies do an "about-face" from the cozy, though stagnant, season of winter into full blown action, genisis, and expansion.

For those of us intent on catching the wave of this new energy, all too ready to wield new projects and self awakenings - it can be a rude awakening when it proves not to be as effortless as a butterfly on the cross-breeze* when we find ourselves faced with setbacks, illness, existential labyrinths, or "bad luck" instead of a clear road to newly manifested actualization.

*Or maybe it is just that easy! Remember that a caterpillar literally had to become soup before it could float effortlessly on that breeze (another transformation done in the dark).

Of course we love the promise of new birth, but literally no one I've ever spoken to has told me that birthing is easy. And I'm sure that if we could only remember that far back, we might agree that being born is no picnic either. I've yet to see a baby come out laughing - shot from the void into this new, extraordinary, and previously inconceivable reality.

So let's be gentle and facilitate our growth by embracing the dark.

May we allow ourselves the permission, not only to withdraw into our own private darkness in order to get back in touch with our origins, but to experience the discomfort or struggle as a necessary milestone rather than rejecting it as a failure to launch.

So in those moments, those dark juicy initiations, when the new self/reality/manifestation is still completely unimaginable and the fear of the unknown or anxiety of the setback causes us pain and doubt...I invite you to reframe this stage of the transformation by asking yourself these four questions:

1. What am I on the verge of?
2. What parts of my intuition am I resisting?
3. What do I need (or need to let go of) in order to make the leap?
4. What are the tough lessons that this moment is asking me to receive?

Below I've shared just a few of my favorite herbs and essences for easing through difficult growth and transitions:

Skullcap Scutellaria lateriflora

Both a bitter tonic and calming nervine, Skullcap may be used to sooth frayed nerves and ease both emotional and physical reactivity. Whether you're irritable and quick to anger, your allergies are acting up, and all the while the world just. feels. like. too. much. I reach for skullcap for sensitivity and overwhelm; be it work, relationship, or pollen related. As a bitter herb, it exhibits action on the liver - helping to clear toxins, including stress hormones, from the body. Accompanied by rest and nourishment, skullcap has been a trusted ally when in need of a little extra calm resiliency.

Saguaro Cactus Essence

Truly the quintessential icon of the Sonoran Desert, the long lived and slow growing Saguaro cactus is easy to anthropomorphize due to its thick, elephant like flesh and its tall stance with extended arms. Change can be isolating, especially when we realize that we have grown out of a situation, job, or relationships. Saguaro flower essence can be called upon in times when extra support and backbone is just what we need. It can be utilized not only to help to restore our will to heal, but empower us to honor our inner wisdom in order to trust the process, follow our truths, and stick to our guns.
You can find Saguaro Cactus Flower Essence from Desert Alchemy & Essences of the Desert.

Calamus Root Acorus calamus

A stand of fresh calamus is about the most heavenly scent that I have ever experienced - like a fresh citrus blossom from another planet. Calamus root can help to relieve gas & bloating, indigestion, and poor assimilation of nutrients. When we experience stress and tension, our fight or flight instincts can cause various body systems that are not immediately necessary for running or brawling, to shut down. Our digestive capabilities can become severely compromised, and yet a healthy gut and assimilation of nutrients is something that is essential to our physical, mental and emotional well being. On an energetic level, calamus has time and again helped me to see the bigger picture of my situation, including my own motives, biases, and engraved patterns - non-judgmentally. I think of it for times when we feel stuck in a situation and our emotional state prevents us from finding peace and solutions.

Pitcher Plant Flower Essence

Pitcher plant has somewhat of a testy personality themself. Perhaps it's like the crotchety retired master artist who has to be approached in the right way to coerce their mentorship - so do approach Pitcher Plant with a healthy respect. To me, Pitcher Plant allows an ease and groundedness when the winds of change (and the world at large) seem to be whipping and whirling around you. Sometimes its not enough to weather the storm, we have to become the calm eye in the center. This allows us to have the inspired endurance and willingness to make difficult decisions that ensure our forward motion. That is what Darlingtonia (possibly the most charming scientific name I've heard) can conjure.
Pitcher Plant Flower essence can be found at FES Flowers. Please do not disturb the plants themselves, they are incredibly sensitive and may not take very kindly to the clumsy and often rude invasion of the human kind.

In light + darkness, may you thrive,



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