Soak Up the Green

Green is a great buzzword these days. It's used in marketing for everything from home-builders to cleaning products to automobiles. The concept implies that these goods or services will be better for our environment and our health. I am all for it. But green goes much deeper. And as I sit in my back yard surrounded by this very green summer I am totally inspired.

Do you ever wonder why you feel so much better after a hike in the woods or a weekend camping trip. I know that the fresh air and relaxation are important components. But did you ever think about the healing effect of being surrounded by the color green?

Green invites aspects of both extroversion and introversion as it is a balance of the warm colors orange and yellow and cool colors of blue and violet. Denise Linn in her book Sacred Space points out that green stimulates feelings of balance, harmony, hope, growth and healing.

Green is found everywhere in nature. It symbolizes abundance and rejuvenates our bodies and minds. Green is often used in symbols of healing, such as in logos for hospitals and many state and national naturopathic medicine organizations ( www.nhand.org, www.naturopathic.org, www.calnd.org, www.naturopathicmidwives.org.)

As a symbol of abundance, we have even made our currency green. Just driving through New Hampshire, as I have done quite a lot of recently, I am struck by the amazing amount of green. Perhaps that is why this area has long been a haven for summer cabins and campsites for people in more urban areas.

Green is restful and energizing at the same time. When we spend time in nature, not only are we getting away from the harried craziness of our daily lives, we are soaking up the essence of healing.

I feel most at peace when I am relaxing on our patio, inundated by all of the different shades and smells of the forest. Even looking out the window brings a sense of calm. And, if I am paying attention, I can experience this even while driving — you just have to focus on the landscape and the trees instead of the scurrying commuters.

Most of the plant parts that we use in herbal medicine are green. Foods that are the most nutrient dense are green. The structure of plants is a system that is inherently giving back to the planet without asking for much for sustenance. Plants produce carbohydrates from the carbon dioxide and water when sunlight acts upon the chlorophyll in the leaves, thus cleansing the air of carbon dioxide (a polluting byproduct of human activity) and producing the oxygen that is necessary for our survival. This is part of why having many green plants in your home or office is good feng shui. I was recently instructed that to really make this work you should dust your plant's leaves regularly. (A fact that I am certain my mother will be happy to hear.)

Not only are plants amazing in their healing qualities and ability to nourish us, but they are also amazing in their diversity. The next time you go for a walk or even work in your own garden, spend time touching and examining the leaves of the different plants you encounter. There are so many different types of leaves, as well as textures and shades of green. The diversity continues in their ability to withstand cold or only tolerate warm temperatures, sun or shade, water or drought. Plants adapt to grow in nearly every part of our planet.

Green is restful and healing and represents our abundant lives hear on earth. Take some time this summer to immerse yourself in green. Breathe in the life force that is proliferating in so much of our surroundings, and enjoy the benefits of our green friends.

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