These past few months of the pandemic, I have often felt dull, with a need to get my hands dirty and create something beautiful. Sometimes, the simple act of getting out of bed, or really breathing in the air, is my daily accomplishment and that is okay. I strongly believe that expectations, such as responding to an email or vacuuming the dust-collecting carpet, must be softened during these constantly-confusing, painful and changing times — we never know how our body/mind/spirit may react to what the next day holds.
One thing that has grounded me, gotten me out of my head, and been a continuous act of self care is working with plants — specifically, lavender. While plants may be unaware of the tragedies caused by COVID-19, they are still living, breathing, and light-loving life forms. With attention, love, and care — and if we listen to their needs — they grow. Plants are resilient and exemplify how even in the face of adversity (i.e. limited water, light, or nutrients) they can persevere, defend themselves and even signal to other plants that danger is here, or near.
Plants, like humans, are constantly growing and changing with their environment. We may be more similar to these chlorophyll life forms than we know. Together we can treasure all the natural gifts they can provide us and learn from their ancient wisdom, which tells us that personal growth need not be rushed, as it takes time to bloom into everything that we are.
I specifically like to work with lavender because its soothing smell brings me peace. Lavender has been said to be useful for treating anxiety, insomnia, depression, and restlessness and it is kissed often by butterflies.
Because of where I live in Southern California, I luckily have had access to lavender bushes, but dried lavender can be easily found in stores, including Whole Foods, Feel Good Organic SuperFoods and other companies, as well as online at Amazon. With dried lavender, we have the ability to create naturopathic oils, scents, lotions and even candles!
I want to introduce the solar infusion extraction method that makes extracting the oils from lavender easy and fun!
Things you will need:
- Dried lavender flowers
- A non-scented oil such as grapeseed oil or almond oil (I have tried olive oil but the scent is very strong and overwhelms the lavender scent)
- Mason jar or other glass container
- Windowsill or other spot with lots of sunlight
- Cheesecloth or some sort of straining device
- Cut up the dried lavender with scissors or rub flowers between fingers to break them apart (This helps the oil seep into the flowers, making the oil more pungent)
- Put the lavender into the mason jar
- Slowly pour the unscented oil over the flowers until it is fully covering all the lavender
- Shake the jar to ensure all flowers are covered in oil
- Place and leave the jar to sit in the sunshine for at least one week, shaking the jar periodically
- After a week or so, pour the oil with the lavenders into a cheesecloth with a bowl underneath and squeeeeeeeze all that oil out into the bowl, leaving the lavender petals in the post-squeezed cloth
This is a safe, clean and healing oil. It can be used as a homemade perfume, facial oil, cuticle cream, and split ends oil. I often use mine under my eyes as a moisturizer and also on my wrists for an immediate whiff of lovely lavender scent.