Dear Yogis.

What a freezing Sunday.  I was told it was snowing in the mountains, and it might have been snowing up here – I just didn’t go out long enough to find out!  It made no difference to the Gita Zoom Class.  It was fantastic as usual.  The photo of the snow is taken from my studio door a couple of years ago.  This year could be the same.

I have always been pathologically opposed to cigarette smoking 
probably because my parents were addicted.  They took up smoking during the war.  My father in the trenches and my mother in The Blitz in London.  I understood the cause, but could not understand their unwillingness to change in the face of the negative effects on the body and the family.   The word “Addict” was never used, but it was part of the explanation.   My father eventually quit due to illness and died in pain, my mother never did and it killed her before her time. 

That not withstanding, yesterday I was drying some smoking herbs for students – hops, mugwort, comfrey etc.  These herbs contain no nicotine or addictive chemicals or sugar found in commercial cigarettes, they are quite powerful, and can be a step towards quitting.  They can also be used specifically to ease symptoms when needed, perhaps to alleviate anxiety, reduce addictions, increase those “loving feelings”, and increase creative capacity.  If you have a problem “There is a herb for that!” and they mostly grow in my garden. Even hops.

After an afternoon of drying herbs in the dehydrator I felt so exhausted I couldn’t keep my eyes open.  I was writing  the booklet in the next room  (not close to the drying),  and when I looked at what I had written this morning it was hopeless, probably because whilst working on it I was half asleep.  The hops are a cousin to cannabis I am told, and for me, they had the same effect.  I just went to sleep.   Note to self – no more drying hops without a window open.

The booklet I am writing (SMOKIN’ ) will tell you what herbs you need, how to dry them, how to mix for a pipe (or cigarettes), even how to hand craft your own pipe.  I made my own, but I don’t need to use one – just drying the herbs for you is enough for me.

As well as drying the herbs, I love making pipes, and plan to shortly do a decoupage one with a fine wood bowl.  Should be beautiful.  I have beaded them, feathered them… now decoupage.  Oh yes.  I have made one from a DIY white porcelain that seems to be good.  Don’t know how it will stand up to wear and tear, but it is TOTALLY organic, and that does count.  I wouldn’t like to be inhaling wood glue, or clay drying chemicals (does anyone think about that?).  The pipes,  because they are made of kitchen ingredients are compostable… totally able to be put in the garden when they have outlived their usefulness, or you want a new one.  Even the wood ones can be recycled.  No plastic used.  I also don’t use a workshop full of tools.  You can make them yourself.

The pipe I made from this material doesn’t look as long and elegant as a “Gandalf pipe” – that comes later.  I have a lot to learn about pipes.  My father had one with a swivel bowl that the soldiers used to tuck under their collars to keep them warm in the trenches (or so the story goes).   I loved the aroma of the tobacco, but dad rarely used it.  He suffered a severe back injury in the war and was in constant pain – I guess pipe tobacco didn’t give the rush or imagined ease that nicotine did.

I wish he could walk into my studio today.  Apart from teaching him how to BREATHE PROPERLY, and do yoga exercise around his limitations,  and I could show him what herbs could be used to ease his pain, how he could get a good nites sleep….and even think about doing positive things towards good health.    I am sure it would make a difference to his mental state (as long as I can remember he was always depressed and negative, taking every opportunity just to sit).  I am sure you know all the stats about skin, ageing and general health and the negative impact that cigarettes have.   Selfishly I know it would have made a difference to my life – I really hated the ashtray stink.  Everything in the house reeked of cigarettes.

I can’t change my dad or my mum they are both dead, but I can help others.   When my mum “comes to visit the studio” even the students can still smell the cigarettes.  True.  I have no explanation for this, it just is.    I have had clients who have tried 40 or 50 times to quit, have had surgeries, but like my mum,  still can’t lose the habit.  It is not a pill, but herbs can help.  However, no matter what addicts choose, in order to change they are going to have to change.  No-one else can do it for them, but I am sure herbs can help.  I hope mum and dad are listening – they will be amused.

Surprisingly, in investigating these herbs, in making the mixes, and writing, I have understood a whole lot more about who my parents really were, why they smoked, why they didn’t change, and how they could have been helped.  Too late now for them, but maybe this will help others.  All the years I tried to help, but did nothing to ease their pain, and we all ended up frustrated and more unforgiving than we should have been (especially me)..  Maybe these herbs are the missing link.