At Harmonic Arts, one of our favourite Winter Tea Blends is Tonic Immuni-tea.
This deeply nourishing, earthy flavoured blend has a few sweet notes consisting of Wild and Organic Adaptogenic/Tonic herbs and mushrooms used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) including Chaga, Reishi, Eleuthro, Astragalus , Rehmannia, Codonopsis, Goji, and Wild Yam.
Tonic Immuni-tea is the perfect base for creating immune protective elixir drinks and soups…
The earth has circled around the sun yet again, and many of us find ourselves in a similar place as we did this time last year; ready to make a commitment to that which is important, and close to our hearts. Perhaps it is a desire to more deeply commit to your health, to your relationships, or to your career. What you are committed to does not measure the success of your intentions. It is the strength of your commitment that will determine success.
How can we fortify the agreement we decide to make with ourselves, in order to bring to fruition the important matters of our hearts?
This is the 1st in a 4-part blog series from Harmonic Arts and Yarrow Willard, to be released on Solstice and Equinox. The intention of these blogs is to deepen our understanding of ways to show up in optimal health during each season of the year. When we choose to align with the natural energies of the season, we are proactively reducing imbalance and disease in our body, mind, and spirit.
When it comes to health, many people see winter as the toughest time of the year. It’s not uncommon to feel challenged with immune issues, stress, depression or a lack of energy in the winter months. Partly this is because it’s the natural completion of the life cycle. The world around us is retreating into sleep mode. If our actions and choices are not in alignment with this seasonal tone, our health and wellness will suffer.
The lack of alignment with winter health practices is an all too common state in the western society. Our busy lives are filled with sensory overload, stress, poor food options and unnatural environments. All of which tell our bodies to respond in the opposite way that our natural world is presenting us. This equation creates a conflict or disconnect within us, and is the most common root cause of imbalance in the body. Leaving us sick, depressed, and burnt out.
The state of decline that winter represents is an important and necessary step in our evolutionary process. Winter offers an opportunity to become more introspective, to reflect on our life choices, and to realign with our purpose and vision for the coming season. To do this work it’s important to give ourselves the space to slow down, rest, and reset ourselves. This internal focus becomes an easy alignment when the natural energies of winter are utilized.
There are 4 basic Energetic Seasonal Alignments throughout the year:
Winters decline offers us the perfect opportunity to refocus our attention, set new intentions, and recalibrate the way we are choosing to show up in the world. To do this requires us to slow down, reflect, reduce our level of output, choosing inward moving rather than outward expansive practices.
Understanding the fourfold landscape of Holistic Health:
When we look at wellness through the lens of Holistic health, we realize that is it a dynamic layering of many interacting aspects.
On one hand we have seasonal alignment as mentioned above. Where finding the right mix of ingredients to take in from our outside environment is the filter for choosing our path.
On another hand we have the fourfold landscape of our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual selves. Where each aspect of who we are requires a different type of nourishment in order to maintain its vitality.
To achieve lasting wellness, our health choices need to be rooted in an understanding of how they affect each aspect of ourself. When we use these filters to help guide our choices, we naturally gravitate to the right tools for generating sustainable health and well being.
The wholistic model of supporting mind, body, emotion and spirit should ideally be integrated into each choice we make in life, then overlapped with the seasonal filter of how these choices integrate with the seasonal cycles of life happening around us.
For example: I know that green leafy vegetables feeds my body well with nutrients, gives my spirit vitality, and makes me happy because I’m taking good care of myself, but should I eat a garden salad for dinner in January?
Best winter practices for nourishing our wholistic health
Slow down, rest, stay warm and don’t push ourselves too hard. Though we should slow down, it’s essential to get some activity outside and find opportunities to breathe the crisp, fresh air. Chopping wood, walking, skiing, or just playing in the elements gives our body deeper wisdom in knowing how to best show up and prepare for the season.
Diet wise, natural winter foods are cooked seasonal options, and foods that have been preserved and stored from the summer/fall abundance. Such as fermented vegetables, beans and seeds, root vegetables like beets, carrots and parsnips, dark leafy greens like kale and collards, whole grains, healthy fats such as organic dairy, fish, coconut oil, high quality animal protein, and bone broths are all great winter choices. It is not an ideal time for cooling foods, like raw vegetables, fresh fruit, juices, sugars or tropical foods.
We can also integrate warming tonic or immune herbs, and medicinal mushrooms as teas, broths and elixir drinks. Herbs such as Astragalus, Eleuthero, Reishi, Chaga, Goji Berry, Rosehips, Fo-ti, Ginger, Cinnamon and Chai spices are ideal in this season. There are many other herbs that are supportive for proactive or specific health concerns this time of year. A great source in Canada for quality organic plant based health options is www.harmonicarts.ca
Slowing down and focusing on introspective thought can be a key practice in the winter months. If we scatter our thoughts on too many projects or ideas, it creates gaps in energy and increases the stress load in the body. Less multi tasking and more depth and imagination is ideal during this season. Find ways to avoid circle thinking on issues we can control is important. Much good visioning can be accomplished with a focused mind, and winter is the perfect time to do this work.
Looking back at what has been accomplished and setting intentions for how we are to show up moving forward. Plan projects, fortify programs, and hold space for regenerative health and rest to occur. To support nerve and brain function we can look to herbs like Skullcap, Passionflower, Ginko, Gotu Kola, Lemon Verbena, Holy basil, Mucuna, and Lion’s Mane.
Often people battle the blues and other tough emotions during the winter months. See this as an opportunity to look at your commitment to self nourishment. At this time, feelings of emptiness, loneliness and isolation are easy to fall into, and understandably as the elements outside are much less hospitable than other seasons. In Traditional Chinese Medicine philosophy, winter holds the emotion of fear. This is the base state behind many of our hardest to deal with feelings. When we acknowledge the energy of fear and dig into its root causes in our lives, we begin to recognize our own cobweb of patterns and habits that no longer serve us.
The inner sanctuary of winter offers the opportunity to deepen our commitment to self and our loved ones, through slowing down, simplifying and being more present. In this space we can begin to cultivate new rituals instead of repeating old habits, as we get clear on how we are choosing to show up in the world. The worst thing we can do for emotional growth in the winter is to distract ourselves by overloading our senses with media, social obligations, excessive alcohol and drug use, or a heavy workload. Instead look to create time for hobbies, personal connection, and self nourishment. Warm baths, comforting teas, fireside conversations, outdoor activities and reflective moments, are great ways to set the tone for healthy emotional growth in the winter months.
Similar to emotional health, our spiritual health can often feel hungry for nourishment in the winter months. These dark days can sometimes have us yearning for adventure or escape. Use this energy to deeply root your dreams and aspirations for the year to come. Getting clear on how you are creating purpose and value in your life can be a great winter project. Practices like meditation and reflective writing may help stimulate those winter spiritual cleansing muscles. Winter reminds us to look internally rather than externally for the answers to our big questions in life. It is our deepest inner work that is ripe for exploration through this slow season. The dark and coldness can sometimes trigger spiritual crisis and expose internal struggles we have been repressing, remember to love yourself and move into these feelings with the curiosity of the inner child, rather than avoid it’s discomfort. The opportunity to dig into the root of our internal struggle is one of the most powerful aspects of winter’s decline. Before we can see the light we must know the dark…
In Summary –
Once we start to unravel the codes of characteristics and natural order within ourselves and our surrounding environment, we see that optimal health choices are not so much about nutritional facts, dietary limitations, exercise regimes and health information. Real and lasting health is actually more about finding flow and balance, and accessing the power of inner and outer harmony. This lifestyle approach can start to become easy common sense practices; even if they are not all that common these days.
There are no hard and fast rules to living a healthy life, just a basic flow that governs the natural cycles of life. It is in our highest alignment to accept and work with these cycles, if we are to achieve lasting vitality and harmony in our lives, and as a collective here on planet earth.
Yarrow Willard Cl.H. (Herbal Jedi)
Yarrow is a Clinical Herbalist and the co-founder/formulator of the Harmonic Arts Botanical Dispensary at www.harmonicarts.ca . From an early age, he was raised in the ways of herbs and natural medicine. Yarrow is highly edu-taining and carries a wealth of knowledge and insight into upgrading health and vitality and deepening our connection with the natural world. He is continually sharing the “Herbal Jedi” life path through his many events, classes, blogs, YouTube channel and other social media.
This time of year I actively add an ounce of cold and flu prevention to my family’s daily regime.
As our bodies adjust to the shifting seasons and the retracting light, fortification to the immune system becomes an important intention.
In that, I choose anti-microbial herbs as defense, immune boosters as offense, and deep immune tonics for conditioning and maintenance.
Cold Defense– When we feel a hint of the winter wetlands hit with stormy cold symptoms, we pull out this blend to come in strong with support to our natural defenses. This blend is ideal to take when sensing oncoming symptoms of a potential cold or flu.
Immune Boost Tea– This tea is a favourite for it’s healing essence that permeates the air while it brews up on the stove during colder months. It boosts our resistance to winter bugs while warming the body from the outside-in.
Elderberry Syrup– This one is always welcome to all members of our family, even the choosiest of palates enjoy the sweet berry flavour of this classic syrup. Elderberry is said to have a center of gravity on the lungs, and its anti-viral properties either keep colds and flus at bay, or lessen the impact of such symptoms.
Viral Support– This blend has a deep penetration to trigger the immune system. It lends support to the body in conditioning for its best defenses yet.
Rolling through this winter cycle, you may also find some of these products to be especially helpful, assisting you through the season with a lowered level of stress on your health and wellness!
Angela Willard became a Clinical Herbalist through the Wild Rose College of Natural Healing in 2005. She has since practiced as an Herbalist through many avenues including consulting, growing herbs, wildcrafting, and co-creating Harmonic Arts Botanical Dispensary. Angela actively adds herbal and health tools to her basket of wisdom by continually upgrading her knowledge with a strong focus on Women’s health and wellness. Sharing information that empowers people to live with integrity and reach their highest potential is a true calling, one which fuels her on her path. She balances her time between raising a young family and nourishing her passionate purpose as an herbalist.
Families and friends of children are beginning preparations for the coming summer holiday months. Kids of all ages will be home from school during 10 warm weeks, and keeping them engaged and cool are keys to everyone’s happiness.
In our home, we aim to guide our children through their senses, the gateways to communing with nature. Facilitating nature connections allows these budding beings to learn from the original guru, mother nature herself.
Planting the seeds to ignite children’s imagination takes a little intention and inspired invention on the homefront.
Like many old world traditions, the days of celebrating Beltane have come and gone. There was a time in Northern Europe though, when Beltane (May 1st) and Samhain (Nov. 1st ) were considered the most important dates in the calendar year. These dates are mid-haven between Equinox and Solstice, and carry an important traditional significance as the beginning of Summer and Winter. As such, they were celebrated with many rituals and ceremonies to ensure a prosperous and healthy season to come. Beltane also served to connect everyone in the community with the importance of giving thanks for the abundance they already had.
Sharing herbal knowledge with you lifts us up and inspires us to do better but sometimes we love to pause and reflect on the simple wisdom of another nature appreciating soul.
Join us as we ponder 10 of our favourite quotables.
It is getting close to the end of the dark and cold northern season.
In the next few months life will be unfurling its leaves and reaching out for the sun after its long winter’s rest. With this burst of Spring sun comes a renewed source of energy and drive in ourselves and the world around us.
This natural regeneration of life makes it the opportune time of year to work on ourselves and enhance healthy practices over the coming season. Traditionally, at this time of year people would be mostly fasting and grazing on the young shoots and fresh greens as they started to become available.
Many of the first plants that come up naturally stimulate our body’s cleansing mechanisms. Specifically the liver and eliminatory channels, helping to shed the accumulation of toxins and stagnation we’ve built up over the winter season.
- A state of 80% awesome, 20% less than awesome
- Flexible dietary habits and lifestyle design
- No hard set rules or limitations
- Seeking intuitive choices that best fit each situation
- Engaging in life, whatever it brings
- Using what you have to its fullest potential
- Finding opportunity in every moment
- Seeking upgraded choices that best fit the moment.
In the modern world we are challenged not to take ourselves or our situations too personally or seriously so we can be available to the opportunities that each moment presents.
We are called to the challenge to be flexible and adaptable in a world filled with uncertainty. We can let go of the safety blanket of routine, structure and habit that are reinforced by our fears, concerns and uncertainties. Most of the time they don’t really serve us and end up stifling our ability to thrive.
Weekday mornings can be pretty hectic; dragging yourself out of bed, getting ready for work, dogs to feed, kids and traffic- trying to fit in a nutritious breakfast can at times seem downright impossible!
Enter this little savior: The Breakfast Jam Jar.
A breakfast jam jar takes 5 minutes to prepare and is an easy way to start your day off with an abundance of nutrients, fibre and energy. By preparing the jar the night before the oats will be more easily digested and allow for better absorption. This recipe is my Harmonic Arts inspired version of a jam jar- the majority of these ingredients are available on our website or in store. You can be as creative and picky as you like with this – use your imagination!
Here are a few of the many nutrients and benefits packed into this particular breakfast jar:
Magnesium, Fibre, Manganese, Protein, Omega 3 and 6, Antioxidants, Iodine, Trace minerals and B Vitamins
3/4 Cup organic whole rolled oats
1/2 Cup milk or milk alternative (I used almond milk)
Cacao nibs (I ran out and used chocolate chips!)
Place oats in first and then add other ingredients as you please.
You can add bananas and/or fruit to the top.
Pour almond milk into the jam jar.
Place in fridge.
In the morning amidst the hectic hustle just grab and go!
It’s easy, tastes like a (guilt free) dessert and is incredibly filling. Enjoy!
This delicious and fun recipe is brought to you by Harmonic Arts team member Kelsey, who is a Holistic Nutritionist inspired by West Coast living, meeting her farmer, playing with her food and getting outside.
Now this one goes out to us seasonal cynics, who find ourselves cringing at the thought of keeping up with the Joneses while December madness sets in. You know what I’m talking about; the frantic, frenetic, hectic buzz that starts to permeate the air. This hits an octave that penetrates through the toughest layers of protection that sensitive beings create to survive the winter holidays.
I am a strong advocate for being the change in any area of aversion, and this time especially calls forth the game changers that can emanate a new paradigm. We as a culture can celebrate this time of sacred shift, with deserving attention and direction of our focus on that which is true to honouring the cycle of light.
As winter approaches, it is a time when it can really sink in for some of us that we have a long, dark winter ahead. It is the part of the yearly cycle in which dreams are incubated, ideas are created, and shadow work is cultivated.
This for some may feel daunting and scary, as it often involves facing challenging emotions. It’s been given various titles such as Depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder, and even been alluded to levels of madness. Remember that if such times sweep over you during this winter, these feelings are the counter companions of contentment, serenity, and even joy. They truly are two sides of the same coin and embracing emotions keeps us open to experiencing life in its entirety.
In understanding the challenges of the darker days, I offer a structure of ways in which you can fully support yourself in your darkness to maintain the sweetness of these times and remain available to the opportunities to strengthen your self. Below are my seven key strategies to creating a foundation in winter happiness:
Thanksgiving is on the horizon and it is yet another opportunity to take part in festivities that will support our best health! Between the strong connections made with friends and family, eating a seasonally ripe local feast, and putting all our loving intentions into the meals we prepare, we will all be well on our way to laying a healthy foundation for winter months.
As we near the back to school season, there is a buzz of excitement among families as they prepare for this time. Some parents, however, can feel some apprehension about their children’s health and wellness being influenced by peers that have a different lifestyle approach or alignment within the school.