Wisdom is the mindfulness focus word for the week, inspired by sage ( Salvia officinalis). Sage is flowering now in various places around my yard. The shrubby plant has soft strongly scented leaves and tiny lipped purplish-blue flowers whorled around many stems. It is loved by bees and drought tolerant, making it a great plant for a Denver garden.
Sage is both a culinary herb and a medicinal. Sage is the dominant flavor in many stuffing recipes. Medicinally, the plant is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. It aids digestion and strengthens the immune system. (2) It works great as a gargle for sore throats. (3) And drinking sage tea has been associated with healthy brains and cognitive functioning, so there has always been a connection with a kind of wisdom.
The word sage itself can mean both the plant and wisdom (as in “sage advice“). Wise people, wizards, and seers have been called sages throughout history.
The green world has its own wisdom. Plants adjust as they need to for sun, moisture, wind, and predators. Leaves curl up to prevent evaporation. Roots grow deep to take advantage of moisture. Plants make themselves taste bitter to predators. They are not always successful, but the wisdom is in knowing what to do.
Among humans, wisdom often seems in short supply. We often over-ride our internal wisdom; working too many hours when our bodies are screaming “stop.” We may stifle our emotions because it feels unsafe to show them. And people often dismantle their personal boundaries because it seems required by social norms. Each time we over-ride our internal wisdom, that voice gets quieter and harder to hear.
In focusing on wisdom this week, I want to pay attention to where an how it arises. Who or what seems to be exhibiting wisdom and how? And how do I cultivate my own wisdom?
Mindfulness practice can help us clear away the chattering list of “must dos” and allow our internal wisdom to manifest. Mindfulness practice opens the door of awareness that THIS moment is what we have. This moment with all of its difficulties, joys, messiness, and hope…this is what we have. Everything else is past or future, and so in a way, figments of our thinking mind.
Committing to a daily mindfulness practice can be a positive step to cultivating wisdom. The best part is that it is free and relatively easy to do. And so making that commitment seems a sage thing to do.
This is week 24 of my weekly mindfulness focus word experiment.
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Footnotes and Other Information
(1) Common sage, or Salvia officinalis is not the same plant as sagebrush.