The Healing Crisis (and the power of Calendula)
We’ve all been there.
An unexpected trip to the ER, an allergic flareup, a broken leg, a body speaking loudly to the mind as if to say “enough is enough!”… in some cases, the death of a loved one. Sudden emergencies. Some would call this a crisis. These emergencies show up in the most unexpected and inconvenient times, usually when there’s so much else happening that we can’t possibly find the time to manage one more thing. And that’s exactly why this happens.
When a healing crisis shows up, it’s your body speaking to you.
It’s reminding you that it exists, that it needs you, to please not forget it in that extra long to-do list and the business you’re building and the home and the kids and everything else. It’s saying ‘hey, what about me?!’, usually adding more stress to our mental state than we’re already dealing with in the first place. All the feelings of overwhelm, loss of control, self doubt and self judgement come creeping in. Whether this is happening to us or someone that we care for (a child, an elder), we’re left wondering ‘why me?’ as we try to pick up the pieces of our lives, our hearts and our bodies.
But what if there was another way to experience this? What if we could see these moments of crisis as moments of blessings? What if that flu that showed up in the middle of a major career deadline or the broken leg before you’re supposed to climb Mt. Rainer could be seen as a gift? A wake up call. An opportunity for healing. A chance for rest. A time of growth.
Allow me to share a story...
This story’s about a country I’ve been longing to go to since I was a girl. It’s about a culture I’ve embraced without ever witnessing first hand. It’s about the medicine I study and practice. And it’s about healing.
It was in the middle of class during my first week of Clinical Ayurveda training when it was announced that a trip was coming up in just six short months - a month in India! With my teacher! And her teachers! And I’ll get credit towards my certification?! Sign me up! I nearly leapt out of my seat.
Within 3 days I made all the arrangements. The opportunity of a lifetime was happening, and I couldn’t pass it up. So I continued my schooling, dreaming and scheming all the while. Yet, there was an anxiety that I couldn’t place my finger on…
A couple months later, I went home for winter break. Within a week, I got in a car accident. It was minor, but enough to shake me up. A week later, I was in the emergency room with a severe burn covering my left arm. I knew in that moment I wasn’t going to India.
Life was going to be put on pause.
My recently adopted practice of keeping ginger tea in a thermos to have throughout the day had backfired. I had poured boiling water in my Stanley that morning and seemed to have forgotten how hot it was when I decided to pour some into my little cup…while I was pulling up to a stop light. Next thing I knew, my sweater was covered in boiling water, I started to panic and ended up spilling even more hot water, and by the time I finally got the sweater off my arm my skin had come with it. I pulled into the nearest parking lot and immediately called an ambulance (and then drank the whole bottle of flower essence I had in my purse).
I cancelled my trip and walked away from a $1,500 plane ticket.
I was devastated… but only for a moment. I knew there was a reason to all of this, something protecting me even, and I just had to see it through. The next month was spent at home trying to figure out what to do with myself, learning new ways of doing things with one arm, having my bandages dressed lovingly by my partner each day, and well.. let’s be honest - playing up the victim card a little bit more than necessary.
Yet that time of recovery granted me the opportunity to see my life in a new light. It gave me a chance to learn what it means to be taken care of and to allow my body (and mind) to truly rest. It gave me the opportunity to put all my years of training in clinical herbalism to use and to witness first hand the healing power of the plants as Calendula regrew the skin on my arm right before my eyes. And above all,
I got to experience the miracle of the vital intelligence of the body - it’s innate ability to heal itself.
I got to put myself first, to rest, to release control of my normal 'duties' like cleaning the home and cooking dinners. And in the space that was created in the process, I was able to see the bigger picture of it all.
Each healing crisis is an opportunity for you to become stronger.
It’s not about the opportunities missed because of it or how far we fall behind in work. It’s about the gifts that rise up from the ashes. It’s about seeing ourselves in a new perspective. It’s about realizing how much we can handle - that we are stronger than we think, that we can get through this, that we’ll be able to help others through this same thing down the road.
The healing crisis is a rebirth, a re-do, a new beginning. It’s an initiation of sorts, a rite of passage, into another chapter of your life.
In this chapter, you’re wiser and you’re more in tune with your body, your heart, your mind. You’re more self aware than you were before. And through these experiences, you’re able to help the next person who stumbles. This is the work of Chiron asking us to step up to our fullest potential, putting obstacles in our way to make us stronger in order to serve the greater good.
So next time you find yourself here, remember that you are worth healing. Remember that you are worth investing the time and energy into your health. Your body is begging you of it. And you deserve it. Take the time to put yourself first. Trust in the healing capacities of the body and trust in the power of our plant medicines. Find the guidance that you need.
And above all, be kind to yourself. For healing is a journey that doesn’t happen overnight.
Calendula Flower Essence
Not only did Calendula officinalis save me on a physical level (I was washing my wound in Calendula tea daily to help with the regrowth of skin cells), but the spirit of this plant kept me going in a time of crisis.
Calendula shined her light in the darkest times of transformation and rebirth with warmth and grace.
She helped bring the shadow to the surface, an element that comes with all physical healing. And she's become a crucial ally of mine in times of rebirth and renewal. Because of this, I offer her to you as well in the form of a flower essence.
Flower essences are here to help you bloom into your best self.
They are subtle and vibrational remedies that work on the energetic body (mind and heart, feelings and emotions) which, in turn, helps to deepen physical healing. Call upon Calendula in times of darkness, both within and without.