October 14, 2018

Meditation for living a better life


I have written about mindful meditation before (and the associated benefits), but not about the other forms of meditation that I also frequently do. There are so many styles out there originating from different philosophies that there is no shortage in finding a style that will suit you. Below are several types of meditation I prefer for various reasons and which one I choose on a day depends on my mood, the amount of time or freedom from distraction I have, or whether I need to relax and rebalance, or if I’m wanting to seek information or solve a problem.

Mindfulness meditation - can be used in daily life anywhere and anytime and creates calm and focus
Guided meditation - can be useful for full relaxation and creating peace within
Chakra meditation - can be useful for clearing energy blockages and relaxation and healing
Third eye meditation - a deeper spiritual practice that connects to source energy beyond this physical world. Can be useful for seeking information or gaining insight. 

Mindful meditation – in this form the aim is to bring my attention to focus on the Now without being distracted and really is the centre of all meditation types. I often do this in the form of awake awareness where I can do it as I go about my everyday life…sitting on the train, while having a massage, sitting in a café, walking in nature, doing household chores or just to take a mental pause from what I am doing and detaching from any thinking.  This style is great to create space from thoughts and worries and to take a break from ‘myself’ and my chattering mind, brings on relaxation, helps release tight muscles, creates focus and grounds me (as in it brings me into the present) and creates a state of calm. The idea is to tune in to the present moment, let go of thoughts, stay aware, and allow yourself to observe and experience what’s going on around you without reaction or judgement.

Guided meditation (which is also known as guided imagery or visualization) – in this form a teacher or guide leads the meditation and allows you to focus on their words and to be guided with the result being relaxation and healing (you can either attend a class or find an online version). They will often start with focused breathing, relaxing all muscles from your toes to your head, until your body is in a relaxed rested state. Then, depending on the nature of the meditation, the guide may then talk in positive phrases for you to focus on, or they may assist you to visualize a pleasant scenario such as walking in a meadow, or alongside a stream or into a safe sanctuary inside a cave where you can associate this image with positive words and feelings and feel rested and at peace when you are finished. I like to use this style of meditation if I’m having trouble shutting down what else is going on around me – it assists with the focusing and is really only used for relaxation.

Chakra meditation – this style of meditation focuses on balancing and clearing the seven energy centres within the body known as chakras. I usually find a guided chakra meditation online which helps me move through each chakra for this type of meditation. Chakra meditation can be great when things in life are feeling a bit out of kilter and that they are not running as smoothly as they could be or you are experiencing difficulties in certain areas (each chakra is associated with different energy such as health, expressing yourself, giving or receiving love, various health problems, creativity etc). As with the other styles of meditation, this creates a sense of calm and relaxation.

Third eye meditation – in this form, it is a spiritual meditation that is founded on connecting to source energy and consciousness and is a way to gain perspective that is beyond our ordinary senses. This style of meditation creates a gateway into this inner world. I can often just be sitting in a chair or lying down, close my eyes and allow my inner focus to relax and drift to the third eye region inside my skull between my eyes and visualise a circle of light or colour. I form a relaxed ‘lazy’ focus on this image and slow my breathing. Depending on my level of relaxation when I begin, I can connect very quickly within a minute or two by allowing myself to ‘go into’ or become one with the light (which for me also shows up in my third eye as many colours that swirl and blend and change as my emotions/energy changes) and this is where I feel extremely relaxed and the sensation of my physical body disappears and my mind and senses expand and merge into a sense of everything, but nothing, all at the same time and time itself falls away and just becomes a ‘gap’ and brings a sensation of emptiness. This is where I know I have left my physical world behind and I exist as the energy and am connected to all other energy and consciousness in the fifth dimension. Once here I can either just enjoy the space and energy I am experiencing and allow images or thoughts to appear or I can then ask questions to seek new information or for insight to come forward (which sometimes is instant and at other times it 'pops' into my awareness after the meditation is over). I find it impossible to do this type of meditation when I am stressed or have busy thoughts so I may need to do sessions of mindfulness or a chakra clearing in the days before to get myself prepared for this inner work.

Bringing some mediation into your  daily life can be a very powerful and useful tool in your personal development and enhancing your sense of wellbeing. How can you bring a little purposeful meditation into your every day?

October 06, 2018

Finding Magical Mindful Moments


Want to take a pause on your busy life and increase the experience of mindfulness? There are so many good reasons to bring mindfulness into your daily existence and many benefits that tuning in to the present moment can bring:
  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Bringing on a state of relaxation
  • Regulation of emotions
  • Clearing your mind of thoughts
  • Helping your brain and mind feel clearer
  • Increasing your attention span
  • Lowering your heart rate…and it feels good too!
This post has been written by request for a very busy friend who is wanting some ideas on how to bring little “breathing moments” into her day. Here you go! J

It can be tricky making or committing to regular time to just pause and live in the moment. I have tried many, many things over the years only to let it all go when I found the commitment too much. What I have found to work for me now is to go small. Introduce little moments of mindfulness multiple times a day without routine or expectation. Even one minute's break from your busy thoughts and actions is one minute of peace and connection to the here and now. I find now that I rarely “can’t be bothered” or find myself “too tired”. All I can put it down to is the lowered expectation to do more or for longer or even to do it at all.

Maybe it’s also really believing that living a life with more mindful moments is beneficial and pleasant and my soul starts to crave these little daily rituals I now carry out. I have only listed below activities that I REALLY enjoy, but there are so many ideas out there, that anything can essentially be turned into a mindful activity. I don’t do all of these daily (maybe only 3 of them are regulars), but I know the others are there when I really feel inspired to bring in something a little different.

Yoga – sun salutation:
I wrote a few weeks ago about my 10 minute mindful yoga ritual. I carry this out every night before bed during the week, and usually in the morning during the weekend. It is so easy to do and makes me feel so good.

Make a cup of tea or coffee:
I am a tea drinker and probably drink about 8 cups of tea a day. When I remember, I slow down the process and really tune in to my awareness of every step I am taking as I make my tea.

Clear out a drawer or space:
This is an old favourite of mine and something I have been doing since I was a teenager! Once again, start small if you have a lot of clutter to work through and I generally like to pick an area where I can see the results. But, take it slow and enjoy the process!

Shine the sink:
This one makes me smile, but I actually still do it occasionally! When my children were little I came across FlyLady.net. FlyLady has a regular routine of shining your sink
J While I don’t do it daily, do still find joy in making this tiny space within my home shine - and it only takes a few minutes.

5 senses activity:
This is something I have been doing for a few years and came across it after experiencing a panic attack at work. For a while after the incident whenever I was in the same situation I found myself experiencing the early signs of panic…so I started to carry out this ritual which is very mindful and brings me back into my body and out of the racing thoughts in my head. Focus on 5 things that you can see, listen for 4 things that you can hear, reach out and make contact with 3 things that you can touch, identify 2 things that you can smell, and take note of one thing that you can taste.

Make the bed mindfully:
While it’s not something I do during my work week, I really enjoy making the bed in the weekend. I like to tune in to the moment as I slowly make the bed and make it look nice.

Walking meditation:
This is something that can be done anywhere and at any time. You can do it at home or walking to or climbing those stairs at work. Really tune in to your body’s responses and the breaths that you take.

Nature boost:
If you don’t feel like going out for a big walk or don’t have the time, just step outside the door and take in the view, breathe in the air, feel the sun on your face, pick up a leaf, or go hug a tree!

Daily writing:
After reading The Artist’s Way, I really liked what the author proposed about writing Morning Pages which consists of writing (typed or handwritten) a stream-of-consciousness (which is a method of capturing the flow of your conscious thoughts) for 750 words – this can take about 15 minutes. During this exercise you don’t judge, don’t think, don’t plan, don’t aim to write anything in particular, and don’t edit it as you go, just bang out what comes to mind. What this activity is great at is to clear out all those messy thoughts or chatterings that might otherwise take up mental space throughout the day and allows me more moments to fully tune in to the present moment. Often creative thoughts and ideas pop in as I’m allowing my mind to simultaneously switch off as well as clearing my thoughts.

Take a photo of something seemingly insignificant:
I find sometimes a little thing within my home or when out and about brings me such a feeling of peace when I notice it, that I just want to capture it. It's not so much so I can go back and reflect on it, but I think it's going through the process of tuning in for that moment and it's just a quick little thing to do as I bring my attention to the here and now. 

Doodle art:
I have always been a doodler for as long as I can remember. About four years ago I discovered the art of creating tiny versions of these using intentional, simple, repetitive patterns that allow your mind to take a break, to let it move into creative mode and just zone out for 15-20 minutes (depending on how big you want to make it). I use a very fine ink pen (mine has a 0.4mm nib) and good quality sketching paper in that is no more than 10 cm square. That way I don't need to create a large masterpiece or get to a place where I feel bored, but it's long enough to tune into the moment and let the world around me slip away. Recently I have started doing them on square post-it notes at the end of my working day and attach them to the front of my work laptop as a little reminder to tune in throughout the next day.




What every day activities or rituals do you already do that you can attach mindfulness techniques to (such as slowing down and tuning in to the present moment) and thereby bringing mindfulness into your everyday life with ease and enjoyment?

September 29, 2018

A little spring foraging...for nature's medicine

I have written before about foraging for wild edible plants, but I also like to forage for plants that have medicinal properties. Most often, the haul I take home will serve multiple purposes as it’s a bit difficult to separate the activities!

I have been waiting for Spring to really announce itself so I can get out and forage! And last weekend, which happened to be the spring equinox, was perfect for a long relaxing walk with the opportunity to gather some wild goodies.

Foraging is very much a spiritual and mindful experience for me. I get to exist in the present moment as I engage with and walk among nature. From the moment I put together my foraging kit (my bag contains good kitchen scissors, a small bag (preferably paper) to hold the herbs, garden glove for thorny or stingy plants), choose the walk to take, then identifying, harvesting and later preparing and using the plants it’s a special experience.

Before heading out, I usually have in mind what I would like to gather, and how much I require. If I am going to be using it for adding to a meal, I will only take what I need for a few days as the wild greens are often softer and less resilient so tend to lose their freshness pretty quickly.

If I am gathering herbs for making into medicinal remedies, I will still only gather enough to prepare and store for what I think I need over that season. Although the greens are free and I usually don’t deplete an entire plant, I don’t really like to waste what I forage unnecessarily. I also tend to only collect plants that I think I will actually use. That means I need to put in some hours of research to and make a plan for what I want to find.

I have a large collection of books that I spend many hours pouring over as I research what I want to gather, how to prepare it, if I want to turn it into a remedy or just store as a single plant.

My haul over the weekend included the following for both food and medicinal purposes:

Dandelion
Parts used: Flowers, leaves, roots
Season harvested: Gather the young leaves in Spring when they are less bitter taste, and wait until Autumn to harvest roots (although these can also be harvested in Spring).
Uses: Flowers and leaves are edible and good for using in salads or can be added to cooked dishes. Leaves when dried can be made into an infusion that can help with digestion or as a diuretic. With this collection, I used all the leaves in our dinner.

Red clover
Parts used: Flower heads
Season harvested: Spring and early summer
Uses: The flowers can be dried and stored, or used fresh. Fresh they can add colour to a salad. Dried and stored they can then be made up into an infusion and used on skin that is inflamed with eczema or can be gargled for sore throats or mouth ulcers.

Blackberry
Parts used: Collect the young leaves early in spring before flowers appear
Season harvested: Spring
Uses: The leaves are dried and crushed for storing. These can then be made into infusions that can be applied as an external use on skin that would benefit from antiseptic or antifungal treatment. The dried leaves can also be made into a tea and drunk by someone who has a cough or used as a gargle for a sore throat or mouth ulcer

Chickweed
Parts used: Leaves and stems
Season harvested: All year round
Uses: As food chickweed makes a great fresh addition to salads or cooked into a meal such as a pasta sauce or curry; it can also be made into a lemonade style drink using the juice of the chickweed as it is a good source of vitamin A and C. I used all this chickweed in our dinner. Chickweed is also great to use topically either turned into an ointment, but also to crush and use fresh as a poultice for itchy skin and rashes.

Also, since my special spaces post last week I have now found the perfect spot in my laundry to pop a small set of drawers for herb storage with the top to dry them without being disturbed. And even better, it’s not out of sight and therefore not out of mind (which can sometimes lead to forgetting all about them!).

Future posts will build on my herbal collections and include recipes on how I prepare and use them.

September 22, 2018

Meaningful spaces...emotionally satisfying


I’ve always cherished certain spaces within my home. I guess most of us do. It could be just a small corner set up with a few little things that I love or it could be out on the deck with a seat facing a lovely view and surrounded by potted plants and herbs. Often it might be a collection of nature items nestled together on a shelf that remind me of the connection to the earth, or a tidy stack of books and magazines that provide inspiration and learning. And one outdoor special space for me is underneath a lovely maple tree in my back yard with some of my herbs growing underneath.

Sometimes it might be the way the sun streams in across a bench or bathes the floor in a patch of bright warmth on a cold day or at the end of the day snuggled down deep in a comfortable bed with soft bedding piled on. There is definitely a seasonal aspect to how I appreciate certain spaces within my home or garden – I like to acknowledge the seasons and my relationship with them by bringing a little piece of the outside inside. This also helps keep me aligned to the present moment and connected to what is around me. It reminds me of my physical presence on this earth as I simultaneously seek a higher vibrating, non-earthly connection.

What all these spaces have in common are the emotions that are experienced and the energy that is within them. For me they all speak of warmth, belonging, comfort and coziness, a sense of well-being, safety, and “my place”. Every little thing I have placed within my home is there because of the feelings they generate. These are spaces where my soul hums and feels alive, nourished, and connected. Even if I’m feeling out of sorts, anxious, upset or irritable – they bring a feeling of being safe to just sit, relax and heal within the energy.

Sometimes the space can be inspirational for other reasons or symbolize the heart of the home and the people in it or those who visit. It could be a creative space, cooking space, study space, spiritual space, art space, garden shed (I used to dream about having an awesome potting/garden shed), herbal prep and storage area (yet to find a place to recreate one of these) or living areas where everyone gathers together.

Each of the special spaces within my home serve a purpose and are closely associated with the activity that I do within it. For example, my yoga space is always the same – on my bedroom floor looking out the window whether night or day. My meditation space is in or on my bed where it is warm and comfy and quiet and private from disturbance. My study and blogging space wanders around the house – living areas or on my bed (I tend to follow the sun if I can!) – so long as I can spread out my books and papers and computer I’m happy providing it’s warm and comfortable. 

What each of these spaces also have in common is that every time I walk past them I feel a call and commitment to the activity and ritual that I associate it with.

And sometimes...these spaces all need a good shake up and for the energy within them moved around. I have a few yet simple rituals I like to do that achieve this:
  • Opening the doors and windows and let in the sunlight and fresh air
  • Clean all surfaces of dust
  • Giving the room a spritz of fresh essential oil (homemade air spray using oils such as lavender, geranium, lemon) or burn some nag champa incense.
  • Set out fresh flowers in a vase
  • Shake rugs and blankets
  • Turn on a few table lamps on dim days or in the evenings (especially my Himalayan salt lamp that gives out a lovely warm glow)
  • Put on some music
  • Clearing any clutter or those little bits and pieces that get tucked away in corners of the kitchen bench or table top.
What favourite spaces do you seek out when you need a bit of recharge time?

September 15, 2018

Need to breathe and take a pause on life?

  
I have written before about how to bring meaningful little rituals into your daily life in ways that work with the lifestyle that you have, the time you have, and the situation you are currently in. One activity that I like to make a part of my daily routine even if I’m short on time or not really in the mood for it is a little bit of yoga. And because I don't often have a large amount of time to dedicate to both yoga and mediation, I tend to bring some meditation into my yoga to get mindful yoga.

I might not get the same benefits as if I were to do a one hour session with a larger range of poses, but this is my version of taking a little pause on life and giving myself 10 minutes of attention and self-care. My mind can rest and my body can stretch and ease any tension. I will do it either at the end of a day or the start of the day – either works for me. If I do it in the morning the focus I put on the sequence is one of stretching, warming, and invigorating myself for the day ahead with positive active affirmations and words if gratitude to set me up for a wonderful day ahead – the sequence is carried out with a little more pep and speed. If I do this sequence before bed it is one of slowing down and really taking my time to breathe, restore my body and mind, easing the aches of the day, and resting my mind and turning into my body and bringing it back to the present moment ready for sleep.

The routine that I have always loved right from the moment that I learned it almost 20 years ago is the Sun Salutation / Surya Namaskar. This sequence is a great set of flowing poses that align and stretch and strengthen your body. I have even done this routine on my stand up paddle board  and it’s particularly nice on a late summer evening when the sun is actually going down!

I tend to only do three repetitions on an ordinary day. Because I tend to take my time to move through the poses, and take between 3 and 5 deep, slow breaths in each pose it can take me 10 minutes to get through. I also find 7 repetitions a good number, but really it’s up to you. It’s your choice on what mindset or intention you want to bring to your practice and how long, slow, or fast you do it. There are benefits for all approaches. There are also many versions of this routine, so if you want to add other poses such as lunges there are lots of options.

This simple version of the classic Sun Salutation is made up of the following poses:


1 – Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
2 – Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute)
3 – Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
4 – Ardha Uttanasana (Half Standing Forward Bend)
5 – Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Staff pose)
6 – Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog)
7 – Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)
8 – Ardha Uttanasana (Half Standing Forward Bend)
9 – Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
10 – Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute)
11 – Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

How do you take a pause on life and give yourself a bit of self-care?

September 08, 2018

Peace begins when expectation ends...



This quote from Sri Chinmoy so simply sums up a lot for me. All interactions I have on a daily basis, all activities I engage in, and really, anything at all that I do can either be accepted as they are and allow me to live a life of peace or can be the cause of suffering because they don’t meet my expectations.

Expectations. Most of us have them. We have expectations on other people (wanting them to respond in a certain way or give us a hug or do something for us). We have expectations on how a certain event might go and when it doesn’t it can ruin it for us (we wanted the day to be fine and sunny and instead it’s windy and a bit rainy or maybe the train ride to work took longer as the train broke down). Or it could be bigger things like a trip we’ve planned out and really looked forward to isn’t what we thought it would be (the airplane got diverted through a different country, or our luggage got delayed and arrived two days late, or the hotel wasn’t quite what we had in mind or there were too many other tourists at everything we wanted to do).

The emotions that are triggered through all these seemingly “bad” experiences all stem from the expectations that we had. How would it be if we didn’t have expectations on how those moments would turn out? What if we just accepted that sometimes public transport breaks down and see an opportunity to read the kindle for longer on the trip, or accepting that the sunny lunchtime walk with a friend instead could turn into lunch in a café, or that overseas trip…how about just accept all those ‘annoyances’ as all part of the adventure and take each moment as it comes and approach the trip with openness and acceptance. How much more joy and wonder you would experience without preconceived ideas and expectations on what it might be like? The outcome is the same whether or not we get annoyed at the inconveniences, because we can’t control what happens, but we can choose to approach each experience without expectation and therefore suffer no disappointment or anger or frustration.

How many arguments start because someone had an opinion they were attached to and we expected a different outcome? Or the sadness that is felt when you break up with someone or a friendship is lost because of attachment to the expectation that things would always stay the same?

Placing expectations on people is going to lead to problems and suffering! People are not predictable and are constantly changing. Being attached to the idea of how a person should behave or act or remaining attached to what you once had, or what you dream of the relationship being all leads to suffering.

Years ago, I became aware of the downfall of placing expectations on others and the consequent pain and suffering that can occur when a friend said to me that I was upset because I wasn’t getting the response I wanted and was expecting something else. While it wasn’t nice to hear, it quickly dawned on me that yes, he was right! It was my attachment to expecting a certain response or outcome and not getting it that caused my suffering – not him or the response that he gave me.

These days, while I am not free of putting expectations on others, I am certainly aware of the emotions such as disappointment or anger or sadness that kick in when I am unconsciously doing it and they serve as a really good reminder to remove my expectation of wanting a different outcome or response! I know that these feelings can stop with me as I have no control over what someone else says or does or doesn’t do. To end the need to control and therefore taking an approach of non-attachment allows me freedom, it allows the other person their freedom, and it leads to a stronger, healthier, unconditional relationship that is full of trust and care.

It should be noted though, that non-attachment is not the same as non-engagement – it’s not about being indifferent or apathetic to another person or when engaging in an activity (and these are behaviours that I can sometimes fall into, so it takes awareness to bring myself back into the present moment). In fact, through non-attachment you can be fully present and engaged and exist in the moment. 

How I practice non-attachment and let go of expectations…

·        Don’t get attached to an expectation or image. This doesn’t mean we can’t still dream big, practice creative visualization to attract what we want in life, or meditate on how we might like to live life better - just don’t get attached where it becomes unhealthy or an obsession.
·        I take a walk in nature or get my fingers in the earth of my herb garden. By bringing my physical senses into the now (and sometimes I go through a little mantra of “what can I see”, “what can I hear”, “what can I feel”, “what can I touch”) this allows me to focus on me and my energy and brings me out of my head. When I am feeling stronger within myself, then I am less likely to place expectations on others.
·        I find a guided meditation to help me let go or to release any energy blocks. I like ones that are about 30 minutes long so I get to a really good relaxed place and then can allow my mind to switch off to the chatter and cleanse my mind to where I feel I can start afresh.
·        I become aware of emotional reactions when I have interactions with others…partner, friends, colleagues, or strangers or when going about my day. If you find yourself judging or criticizing or feeling jealous or irritated or any other strong reaction…first acknowledge it and thank it for reminding you of the attachment you have (I tend to smile to myself because I have caught myself out), then I do a little deeper investigation on why I might have been triggered in this way and remind myself I can’t control anyone and to allow them their freedom. If the answer comes I acknowledge it and this is usually enough to change the way I react in future. If nothing comes, I move on. There will be plenty more reminders ;)

Peace begins when expectations end.

September 01, 2018

Spring…bring on the adventure of Wild Food Foraging…nature’s food!


The first day of Spring has officially arrived (here in the southern hemisphere at least). I’ve been enjoying (and only slightly impatiently) watching the plants in my garden, and while out walking the dog, start to grow and come back to life over the last month so I can get back into foraging some wild greens.

I have enjoyed foraging for wild greens for over 10 years. It’s something that I actively became interested in when I studied Organic Horticulture and visited a wonderful permaculture property on one of our field trips. As we wandered around the rural property and looked at the various areas of cultivated vegetables living among the ‘weeds’ it was an Aha moment for me that we don’t need to rely just on growing the vegetables that we want to eat. That a lot of other vegetables, aka edible weeds or wild greens, grow out there on their own and bring the same nutritional value or same sort of quality to a meal and take NO effort to grow and come with NO cost. So why not start using them? At the time, my home was on a decent size of land in suburbia in an old, established part of town, which brought with it old trees, hedges, and craggy areas left to run wild . This very overgrown backyard became my learning ground in the early days of plant identification and gave me the ability to harvest various wild greens to try them out as food.

This then led on to every bush walk or beach walk becoming one with a secondary focus on foraging!

Over the years, this desire to forage and find fresh food has stayed with me, even though the pace of life has changed and it’s not as easy to forage on a day to day basis when I no longer have an overgrown jungle of a backyard and I’m out of the house from 7am until 5pm. But now, even with the rest of life there needing my attention, it’s something that has become important to me to bring back into my daily living in some way whether it is actually foraging or maybe finding a new recipe or a new plant to locate when I next get out there. This all fits with my desire to live life better and more mindfully and sometimes it’s just baby steps and putting in as much time as I have - even if it’s just once a week I’m winning.

I was intrigued during my travels to Italy during Spring that in a restaurant in Porto Venere, which is a bit more regional, that there was an item called “wild herbs” on the menu. Our Italian guide explained that this was common in restaurants and that the items were gathered through foraging…I saw this for myself the next day as we walked the Cinque Terre walkway with the abundance of wild edible greens out there on the cliff sides among the olive groves and grape vines. It was in Italy where the Slow Food Movement was founded, and this was certainly noticeable in particular in the smaller regional towns with easily accessible wild greens in the surrounding countryside forming a core part of this philosophy.

How do I use my wild greens?

Some of my favourite ways to use greens simply and without any effort is to add a handful of wild weeds where I might otherwise use spinach or other leafy greens to a meal such as a bolognaise sauce, a crock pot meal, an omelet, frittata, salad, or a green smoothie.

What are my top 7 wild greens for food?

  1. Chickweed
  2. Dandelion
  3. Plantain
  4. Sheep sorrel
  5. Clover
  6. Nettles
  7. Wood sorrel
Dos
  • It’s really important to clearly identify your plant! If you’re not sure, err on the side of caution and don’t eat it.
  • It is great to take a walk with someone who knows about harvesting wild greens. Sometimes I see advertised on Facebook an event to take a group foraging walk. I did one of these in my early days and it was hugely helpful and it’s lovely to meet up with other like minded people.
  • Find a good field guide on edible greens - there are some great authoritative books out there with really clear photos and descriptions for identification.
  • Your own backyard is a great learning ground – check along fence lines, or edges of your house or garden sheds or below trees and shrubs. There are some very easily identifiable greens that you can usually find anywhere such as chickweed, clover, plantain and dandelion (although you will need to learn about the dandelion impostors even if they are not harmful). 
  • Some weeds that have runner roots can easily have a piece broken off and replanted at home if you want to cultivate your own (sweet violet, nasturtium, and red clover are ones I have successfully done this with).
Don’ts
  • The main rule is: Don’t take too much of what you find. You want to ensure that you don’t wipe out the whole plant or create an imbalance in the environment around it (and you want to have a place to come back to another time!)
  • Only harvest from healthy looking plants.
  • Avoid areas that are possibly contaminated – my favourite dog walking area probably isn’t the best place to forage so I don’t as there are not only lots of other dogs most likely using the plants to pee or poop on, but it is set down lower from the main road and housing and therefore a likely place for pesticides or stormwater run off to contaminate the plants.
Pick a plant today and add it to your meal tonight!