Paying attention: herbalism from the ground up.

(This is the last post in a series on my herbal philosophy. Previous posts in the series: The body is an ecosystem, The body is not a war zone, Escaping the body-as-battleground trap and Respecting human ecology.)

My approach to herbal practice is very simple: pay attention.

Pay attention to plants. Look at them. Touch them. Smell them. Taste them. Spend time with them. Get to know what they like, where they hang out, what they’re up to. Learn who their relatives are. Learn their history with humans.

Pay attention to people. Watch them. Listen to them. Don’t pretend you know all about them. Investigate carefully. Ask questions and listen to the answers. Follow the threads. Don’t ignore nagging ideas in the back of your mind. Study how bodies work. Don’t expect to figure everything out.

Pay attention to ecosystems. Notice things affecting each other. Remember the microscopic and the macroscopic, the inside and the outside. Observe elemental qualities: heat and cold, moisture and dryness, tension and laxity, intensity and lack. Discern where support is needed.

Pay attention. That’s all.


  1. Kiva Rose said,

    March 8, 2007 @ 10:10 am

    So simple and so very true. Thank you, Rebecca.

  2. Maria said,

    March 10, 2007 @ 8:12 pm

    I like this! I just started saying “pay attention” to my 3 year old, instead of “be careful”. Instead of having her worry about getting hurt or being to careful to experience life, she is learning to pay attention to her surroundings and her world, and so am I.

  3. carol capolungo said,

    March 10, 2007 @ 8:29 pm

    I am so happy for you that you have found your freedom to be who you are in this way, with the plants. I feel that it is the deepest kind of paying attention.

  4. crabappleherbs said,

    March 11, 2007 @ 12:03 am

    Maria, what a great idea for a little kid! It’s always grated on me when people constantly tell their kids to be careful, as if the world is a dangerous place.

    And thank you, mother, for your encouragement.

    (You two live in the same town, you know.)

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