Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Modern Smudging 101


There are ancient spiritual beliefs behind the sacred ceremonial practice of burning herbs and it's becoming a more and more prominent practice in modern society as so many people seek to enrich their own personal spirituality and seek more "earthy" roots. Unsatisfied with pre-packaged spirituality, many are stepping off the beaten paths and creating their own ways of honoring the divine and connecting with nature. Society as a whole is becoming more global and aware of differing spiritual practices. Incorporating spiritual practices from differing and various cultures is becoming more the norm than the oddity. I love this. It is so refreshing to see people awakening from the hum drum and creating rich and meaningful ways of honoring the divine and nurturing their souls. People who are drawn to the beauty and energy of nature are finding the practice of smudging to be a very welcome addition to their lives.

The art of smudging comes from the beautiful animistic culture of Native Americans and other Indigenous peoples. Animism is the belief that all things whether plant, animal, element, even weather and the spoken word have their own life energy. "Anima" is a Latin word meaning breath, spirit, soul, or life. Smudging calls on the spirits of sacred plants to cleanse negative energies and to bring harmony and balance to physical spaces, bodies, minds, and souls. As I am learning in my herbalism studies, every plant found on earth has its own sacred place within the web of life, and each has its own "medicine", or gift to the world. Some plants have particular qualities that make them specifically exceptional for smudging purposes. I may write in more detail about the individual qualities of each herb in the future, but for now I want to introduce you to ways of smudging! If you're thinking it's too complicated - really, its not. And if you haven't given it a try you are most definitely missing out!

Essentially you need 2 things. Herbs plus a way to burn them. There are a few different ways to burn your herbs. A traditional way to burn the herbs is to use an Abalone shell as a type of bowl for burning the herbs. Abalone shells are quite beautiful with their shiny rainbow mirror like surfaces and are easily found online and at some local stores depending on where you live. They've been used for centuries for various spiritual purposes by Native cultures. For you vegans out there an option I like more is to use a clay bowl or vessel. I've been attempting to create some myself, with marginal success. I'm tempted to take a pottery class just to learn the skills! But, anyways for these purposes I found a pretty little vessel that works quite well. Its actually a little tea light candle holder and it actually works perfectly!

Okay, I'm going to assume you've got your herbs and your vessel. Now what? Well, you can certainly put some of your herbs in your vessel and light them up. Let them catch fire and then gently blow out the flame so that they slowly smolder. Or, if you want to smudge like a pro you'll need a couple more simple and inexpensive items: Small charcoal discs and either censor sand or rock salt. I prefer rock salt. I love the clean salty aroma of the warm salt and its easy enough to find at just about any grocery store. Just cover the bottom of your container or dish with either sand or rock salt. Think of it as making a nest for your charcoal disc. Then set your disc on top and light it. I have to mention that lighting charcoal discs is very fun, at least to me. They sizzle and sparkle for a few seconds and then you can watch the line of sparks cross from one side of the disc to the other. It's actually quite pretty! When the disc is ready it will stop sparkling. Now you can start sprinkling your herbs onto the hot disc. I like to add just a little pinch at a time. If you keep the disc engaged it will stay hot for up to an hour or so. Just keep adding little sprinkles every few minutes. Now, to complete the smudging with respect to the plants, it is best to give them back to the earth. What does that mean? It means don't throw them in the trash when you're done if you don't have to. Simply go outside and put them on the ground where they can complete their journey and nourish the earth. :)

I've got 4 amazing organic herbal smudge blends available in my Etsy shop. I spent tons of time researching and testing out various blends. Now, barely a day goes by without me burning at least a little bit. It's been such a nice addition to my days. Believe me, plant medicine is strong and wonderful! Xoxo

Thursday, April 13, 2017

New Nature Inspired Tie-Back Headbands

Hey everyone, I've got 5 newly designed tie-back style headbands in shop! The nature vibes are heavy here with birds, bees, and flowers galore. As always, they're made with fabric that is indie designed by me and eco friendly! Also, every singe item that is purchased from my shop comes with a little heart embedded with wildflower seed to plant. Mother nature is very happy about that :)
Check them out here

Sunday, February 26, 2017

New: Herbal Dream Pillows!

Do you need a little extra herbal "om" to help you relax and drift off to sleep? Herbs are powerful allies for us mere humans. Mother Nature has generously provided us with so many comforts and remedies for various ailments - whether physical, mental, or emotional. The stress and demands of our daily lives can leave us so depleted, yet so wound up that getting a restful nights sleep can be out of reach. You've probably tried breathing exercises, sequential muscle relaxation, maybe some white noise, etc. But, did you know that a very powerful sensory system for relaxation is often overlooked? It's as simple as your nose! Well, okay it's really not that simple. The olfactory system and its connection to the brain is rather complicated in fact, and the way the molecules from the herbs enter your system through the membranes in your nose is really beyond my comprehension. But, what I DO know is that it works... and that it is safe, simple, natural, and a rather enjoyable aromatic addition to a bedtime routine.

Organic Herbal Dream Pillows by Bohemian Gypsy Jane

I patiently took my time finding just the right herbal blend for these dream pillows. There are so many herbs that help with relaxation and restful sleep, but in the end I chose 8 wonderful herbs to work with. As I designed and color proofed various versions of the fabric for these, I worked out the perfect proportion of each herb. It took a few months of hard work and dedication for it all to come together, but I am more than pleased with the final results and I'm confident that you guys will be pleased as well. These can now be found in my Etsy shop! xoxo ~namaste

Monday, October 17, 2016

New Tie-Back Headbands

I just added 6 more tie-back headband designs to the shop! I introduced the tie-back style just a couple of months ago and they've been really popular. With only 6 designs in the starting line-up, I decided it was time to add a few more for you guys to choose from. I used some color variations from some designs that are already available as the regular boho style headbands, as well as adding in a brand new Monach butterfly pattern and a fun and whimsical moth pattern for my more ecclectic customers :) I hope you guys love these! All headbands are made with eco friendly fabric that is milled and printed right here in the USA using my original designs.

New Tie-back Headbands from Bohemian Gypsy Jane

Friday, July 22, 2016

Finding Your Own Way - No Rules Meditation

Finding a place of peace and stillness of mind is the ultimate goal of meditation. How to get there? That's totally up to you. We live in a busy world and live busy lives. We quickly burn ourselves out and lose those natural connections that we were born with... That sacred connection to the center of all energy from which we have each sprung forth. Our lives are like temporary little solar flares leaping out and dancing from the sun, ultimately destined to dissipate and rejoin the collective energy mass. It's not too shabby of a deal, we get to leap and twirl and dance in our own special ways and be brilliant and beautiful and shine as bright as we can, for a few brief moments. Well, just a few moments relative to the span of infinity. I know, its mind boggling if you think about it to hard. Simplified: Your life is a gift, but your personal flame will, without a doubt, one day burn out. We need to take special care of our flames and one of the best ways to do that is to set aside time, each and every day, to care for that flame. Meditation will help you reconnect and will fuel you back up to burn bright, strong, and steady. And really, its not difficult at all. If you find that it is, then you are simply trying too hard.

First of all, you don't need to read any hefty or hard to understand books to meditate. Of course, it's more than okay if you want to! I love to read about anything and everything, but I know not everyone does, and that's more than okay. Meditation is not a lofty out of reach practice for only a select few. We can all do it. I think one of the biggest misunderstandings about meditation is that you have to do it a certain way. That's just not true. If someone ever tells you that, they are being what I think of as a "meditation snob". Ignore anyone who makes you feel inferior. You are no less divine or capable of having a solid meditation practice as anyone else. The thing is that we are each unique. We each have a different energy frequency and we each find connection to that place of stillness and peace in our own special way.

If you have trouble meditating, I challenge you to think outside the box. Find your own way! Remember, the point of meditation is to quieten your mind. Hush that chitter chatter, so to speak. Release that feeling of being an individual and let yourself melt into the web of life for a few moments. You could feel the breeze blowing, hear the birds, try to feel the energy flowing into the trees from the sun above and the earth below. Silently observe the clouds moving and shifting and morphing. The point is to observe, feel, be a part of... and let any thoughts or reaction slip away.

Another idea for meditating is to pick a special object. Take your time finding it. You may already have something in mind, such as a feather, a stone, a flower, or maybe an abstract painting or a photograph of the stars, small animal totems, etc. You can probably tell I prefer nature elements, but you're not limited to that. Just find something that YOU can connect with in a way that doesn't stir up the "monkey mind". Simply sit quietly and meditate on/with that object. Really merge with it and see it as if you were it and it were you. The point is to take you out of yourself and into the realm of "self-less-ness". That place where the division between "you" and "it" no longer exists.

Nothing sounding great so far??? Maybe you're the type of person that can get lost in a beautiful piece of music? The kind of lost where time stands still? Music may very well be your path for meditation. Many people who've tried other forms of meditation and have felt intimidated have had amazing success with music. There are so many forms of music... classical, instrumental, drumming, Native American flutes, even more modern alternative forms can work. I would suggest staying away from music with lyrics, or at least have limited lyrics as the words can get your brain into the wrong space. You want a space where you aren't "thinking". Rather, find something that helps you let go of thoughts and wraps you up in the sound, giving your brain a break from active thinking.

Although, you don't want music too heavy with lyrics, words CAN help you meditate. Choosing a single word, or a combination of words (a mantra) can help you get into a meditative state of mind. Also repetitive sounds such as the well-known "OM" can hush a noisy mind. Also, just spontaneously humming random sounds, making up your own music or combination of sounds can be effectively calming. Remember, the point is to not think. If you find that you are, no worries. Please don't beat yourself up about it. As soon as you realize you are thinking, observe the thought without reaction or judgement, then gently let it drift away and return to your quiet space.

One of the most common methods of meditation is to simply observe your own breathing. In. Out. In. Out. Maybe intentionally slowing it, or trying the 4 square method: Breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, breathe out for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts. So many people find this relaxing. However, I will admit that I am not a fan of breathing meditation. For some reason it seems to have an opposite effect on me and puts me into a state of agitation instead of relaxation, so it isn't my personal first choice. I don't beat myself up about it either.  Like I said earlier, everyone is different and one person's method may not be another's and that is to be embraced. Find YOUR way!

Another method worth mentioning here is walking meditation. Just simply walk and focus on one step at a time. Feel each time your foot connects to the earth and stay in the moment. Notice what's around you or how your body is feeling. Just keep your mind in check as best you can. "In the Moment" is key. No worrying about yesterday or tomorrow, or the laundry waiting at home. As soon as you realize your mind has wandered, let it go and softly come back to where you are in time and space.

There are so many ways to meditate, and I can't possibly list them all here, nor do I want to; that isn't the point of this piece. The point is to tell you that it's okay to break out of the box if there is nothing in that box for YOU. And don't not meditate because you don't "know how". There are no rules you have to follow. You deserve the quiet refuge you will find. Your mind and body will thank you. It's worth trying out a few different ways, or totally making up your own way. MAKING UP YOUR OWN WAY IS OKAY! You may discover a totally non-traditional way to meditate, and that would be awesome. Whatever lovely way you find to soothe your mind into that special space that gives you a much needed break from the day to day, THAT shall be your meditation. <3

I'll wrap this up with a fitting quote about finding your own way, I think it's spot on... I hope you take a few minutes to reflect upon it.



Sunday, April 10, 2016

Living in Harmony with the Seasons: Spring

The energies have shifted and Spring is fully in the air! While Winter is a season of rest, reflection, and conserving energy, Spring is all about awakening, stretching, and shaking off the slumber of Winter, soaking up the warming sun, planting seeds of intention, nourishing those seeds, and witnessing new life slowly peeping out and then bursting into the world as leaves unfurl and blossoms bloom. The sacred cycle of creation is warming back for another turn of the wheel.

"Spring is a natural resurrection, an experience in immortality." -Thoreau

There exists a flow to nature - a flow of energy. Just as the moon waxes and wanes, so does the energy of nature, the energy of life. Good health of mind, body, and soul are dependent on being in harmony with that flow. The elements of nature are the very same elements of your body - intertwined, twisted, woven, and inseparable. Energy shifts, and so must you. #shiftthappens

Living in harmony with the seasons isn't a new idea. It's an ideal way of life with roots dating back thousands of years. If you're familiar with Ayurveda, then you know this concept isn't new at all. In fact, it's an integral part of many various cultures across the globe. It seems that only in modern times and in our own western civilization that we've moved away from this wisdom. The conveniences and comforts of modern living as well as the increasing number of people living in large cities have in some ways separated us from the natural world. It's important that we learn to somehow blend these worlds so that we can continue to move forward as a civilization while staying connected to that which is the absolute root of our existence and well being. Living a life of disconnectedness leads to illness, anxiety, and unnecessary feelings of isolation. Here are a few ideas to get you heading in the right direction for living in harmony with Spring...

Move Your Body!
Spring is a time of awakening, and just like when you awake from a long deep sleep, you need a good yummy stretch and to start slowly warming up your body in preparation for increased activity. Physically speaking, Spring is an optimal time to ease into a fitness program. Yoga, Tai Chi, walking, and jogging are perfect to start with. Anything you can do outdoors is wonderful and beneficial. If you're brand new to exercising, or have been stagnant through winter be careful to ease into it. Gentle stretching and walking are a great place to start. As your body gets more flexible and mobile you can carefully increase your activity. The important thing is to nurture your body, not to injure or over-stress it! Never push beyond what is healthy. Always love yourself enough to honor and respect your body's current capabilities.

Eat Seasonably

A little detoxing may be in order to Spring Clean your body. Drink plenty of water and herbal teas to help flush your liver. Dandelion tea is an excellent choice! You can find it at health food stores and many grocery stores, but how about trying to make your own!?! Dandelions are everywhere this time of year. I hope you're letting a few grow wild in your yard for the bees and butterflies, and for yourself! They really are herbal powerhouses! If you're not familiar with the benefits, I encourage you to do a little research. I've been learning a lot about herbalism and wildcrafting lately and there are many wild things that grow in the Spring that I plan on trying new things with. Wild violets grow bountiful in my backyard and I hope to be able to try out some Wild Violet recipes I've found on Pinterest! #trynewthings!

Spring greens are also excellent for your body as well as brussel sprouts, and broccoli. See what fresh veggies you can find at your local Farmers' Market. Seasonal + local is a powerful combination. As the weather gets warmer and warmer, your metabolism changes. Summer is the optimal time for raw fruits and veggies, so you may want to at least steam your veggies in early Spring if you find you're having trouble digesting them raw.

Get Your Hands Dirty 

One of my favorite things about Spring is dirt. I love digging in the dirt, especially after a good rain. You know that amazing smell of damp dirt? That's the scent of life! Planting and tending a garden is one of the most magical and satisfying experiences ever. It also puts you in direct contact with nature. This gives you the fast track to harmony! There are also undeniably therapeutic aspects to gardening. So, whether you would like to grow a little flower garden or get ambitious with a large produce garden, go for it! I don't think anyone has ever been sorry they planted a garden.

"In the Spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt." -Margaret Atwood

Setting Intentions
Spring is where it all starts. It's a new beginning. This makes Spring the perfect time for setting your intentions. Its very important to distinguish intentions from goals. Goals have a measurable outcome. A goal would be something along the lines of wanting to run a 4 minute mile, lose 5 pounds, make all A's, etc. An intention is something less quantifiable, yet so much more powerful. Intentions are a communication between your heart and the universe. Examples of intentions are finding balance, seeing beauty, remaining connected, opening your heart, seeing truth, and finding health. Also you could have intentions for creative expression, forgiveness, gratitude, peace, being of service, and finding meaning. Intentions are extremely personal and deep. Only you can know what intention you need or desire. You can set an intention for a day, or for the length of a yoga session, or for a certain situation and you can set an intention for a longer period of time. Spring is a wonderful time for setting an intention for something you want to be a part of you for the rest of your life - a long term intention so to speak. So, look deep inside and ask your heart what it is you need. It may not come to you right away, but trust that it will and when it does, name it and name it clearly. Then focus daily and align yourself with that intention and it will come to you. You do the work on your side and the universe will do the work on its side. Its a beautiful process.

The key to intentions is clearly naming them and holding them in focus. Your intentions become your reality as you hold them in focus, day by day, and as you realign your thoughts and actions with your intention. You might want to start each day with meditating on your intention. A few minutes to clear the chatter in your mind and to focus on what is important to you can make a huge difference in how focused you can remain and the choices you will make throughout your day.

Soak Up Some Sun

Set aside a little time, daily if possible, to feed your body some sunlight. Sunshine is good for your mood, it improves sleep quality, and makes the oh so important Vitamin D that we all need more of. Don't be a total cave dweller! Get outside! Flowers can't bloom with no sunshine!

And... BLOOM!
All this leads me up to the ultimate conclusion for Spring. You need to bloom. You've been storing and holding your energy all Winter in preparation for this! Let it happen. Feel the energy that's ready to be released. I don't know what your particular "bloom" is, only you know that... but ultimately it will lead to a ripe garden ready to nourish you through the intense energy of Summer. In Summer, the garden - whether metaphorically speaking or literally speaking, or both - is buzzing with energy! The seeds planted in the Spring bear fruit in the Summer. All the caring and tending will be been rewarded with spectacular flowers, fruits, and vegetables, as well as the fruits of your intentions and efforts! I can't stress enough how living in harmony with the seasons is both metaphorical and literal! As you learn to observe the energies within yourself as well as around you with each season that comes and goes, your understanding will deepen year after year. <3

I want to conclude this post with a little excerpt from a John Burroughs essay. I think it is so relevant to many things, but it also fits nicely into the idea of harmonizing your life with the seasons. It's one of my favorites, I hope you enjoy it :) xoxo ~namaste