Thursday, May 10, 2012

Pollen: Irritant or Medicine?

A Lesson In Letting Go

There's a lot of pollen out this week. I had a tough day on Monday, and today is a bit challenging, too. As I was sitting there "suffering" on Monday, trying to fight off the itchy eyes and sneezy nose, my dear friend and colleague Suzette Marie said,
"Maybe it's not an allergy. Maybe it's medicine for you. Maybe it's helping you to release something."
 Well. Hmmm. That sounded like an interesting perspective. I was totally game for turning something very annoying - indeed, debilitating - into something good for me, if only I could pull it off. 

Here's what I did.

First, I contemplated what pollen does in a plant. When pollen reaches the stigma, it embeds itself and creates a "pollen tube" - it basically tunnels its way from the surface down to the "womb" of the plant.

Then, I contemplated what pollen does in a human - it triggers the release of histamine. Histamine dilates blood vessels and makes the vessel walls extra permeable. 

Then, I examined what I was experiencing. Of course, it was the histamine reaction - the "symptoms" of the "allergy".

But what was that, really? What if it was medicine? Suzette said, "'s helping you to release..."

To figure this part out, I sat quietly and closed my eyes. I calmed myself enough to notice my fierce resistance. Resistance to what? To the feeling of "swelling" in my eyes, nose, and sinuses. I was fighting hard against it. 

I took the time to feel my way through and into that resistance. I let go of "sensing the itch" and embraced "sensing the resistance".  This part is hard to describe, but I think it's useful to share.

It was as if I was blasting away with a weapon - a weapon of light and heat - that I was applying to the area all around my head. And all that light and heat was making the area around my head hot and full of a kind of fiery plasma that was "stuck" in that area. Almost like I was firing this weapon into a heat shield that was between me and the rest of the world. 

Now, I can't tell whether I was the one blasting away, or I was the one holding the heat shield in place. I just know that I was in the middle of it, and it was not a happy or productive scene.

Once I got a handle on the dimensions and depth of the resistance, I began to try to release it. To "let go". The first phase of that process was to stop seeing the situation as an antagonism. The pollen, the reaction, the "motion", I said to myself, was appropriate. It was an OK thing. A good thing. Nothing to fight. Rather, it was a release of something. (What, I didn't know).

The second phase was to drop the shield. To let down my guard and "allow" what was happening to happen.

What I found was that if I was very still, and did not try to do anything else but "allow", the feeling of "discomfort and resistance" transformed into a feeling of "quiesence and permeability", through which "something" was being released from me out into the ether. I could feel it passing out of me. 

What was this "something"? 

I'm not sure I totally know, but here's a clue: The stillness that I had to adopt was a meditation of sorts. It required me to be completely present to myself and the moment. I could not read. I could not write. I could not plan or think or be in the future or the past. Fretting about my "to-do" list only made it worse. I had to be fully present.

What I felt dissipating through this process was the compelling urge to be "doing". All the items on my to-do list, my sense of having (or wanting) to engage with the world and experience something resulting from the application of my own volitional force onto the world had to go. 

Instead, I had to be completely receptive and, I guess in a way, vulnerable.

What evaporated out of me was attachment, desire, action, drive. What was revealed in its wake, in its absence, was clarity. 

How odd that a hayfever reaction would lead to clarity.

They say that allergic reactions are more pronounced in those that lead an unhealthy lifestyle - smoking, bad diet, etc. And also in those that lead a "hyper-sanitary" lifestyle - everything sprayed with disinfectants and very restricted encounters with the "dirt" of the natural world.

I think if a histamine reaction makes one "more permeable", and an unhealthy or hyper-sanitary lifestyle exacerbates the reaction, then perhaps what pollen is doing is offering us the opportunity to reconnect with the energies of the natural world, and cleanse ourselves of those things in our lives that are impediments to doing so.

Bee pollen is know in naturopathic circles as very strong medicine. Perhaps the bees and the flowers have something to teach us about the healing power that comes from intimacy with the natural environment.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much John for allowing me to be a part of the process. Synchronistically, a mother from Soraya's school told me that part of the bee's homeopathic remedy is through local honey. It is said that if you eat the honey from your local environment, the medicine in the honey will help you alleviate your allergies and build an immunity to what is allying you(locally). I believe these healing are parallel and reminds me that the holistic process works like roots of a tree system. The holistic systems hen nutrition in different forms into one integrating into one life form, all at the same time. Perhaps we do need to understand the medicine of the pollen, and perhaps we can use a little help from its local honey. Thanks so much for opening a space for this topic and your insight knowledge! :) - SM