We are blessed to be a part of hundreds of herbal journeys around the world. Every month we take the opportunity to honor that by sharing a former student’s journey to herbalism with you. We call it our alumni series.
This month we are hearing from Amanda Narin. Her path to herbalism started with resistance and challenge – but she pushed through. When her son whispered to her during her pregnancy, she chose to follow her joy and embrace the challenge that comes with a soul journey.
Now Amanda is well on her soul’s path: teaching herbalism to budding herbalists!
Here is her story:
Amanda Narin’s Journey to Herbalism
My son introduced me to the herbal path. I feel our soul contract has one of his agreements to remind me of my true joys. Two of those joys he whispered to me during my pregnancy: herbs and flower essences.
When I was pregnant, my midwife suggested a nutritive herbal tea to support both of us. She told me the herbs to buy and mix together; I never considered before this time that I could actually blend my own herbs to make tea. She also suggested a flower essence to help with anxiety. These suggestions helped and excited me; it felt like I was remembering deep and primitive knowledge. A spark started to kindle, but it would be several years before it turned into a real fire.
Following Her Excitement
Flash forward 7 years – I was dissatisfied with my career path (or lack thereof). A teacher I follow teaches that if you consistently follow your excitement in whatever way you can, these acts lead to bigger feelings and experiences of excitement. When figuring out where to look for a job, I thought of how much I like tea, and how I had taught myself over the years to get into the present moment when making and drinking tea.
I followed this bit of excitement and explored jobs in the tea industry; Berkeley Herbal Center kept showing up in my searches.
My first thought when reading about the long-term program was I could NEVER do that. But BHC kept swimming back into my awareness no matter how much I dismissed it. Eventually, that ‘never’ turned into a ‘maybe,’ and it finally turned into a ‘definitely!’ after going to an open house. At this meeting, I met BHC’s late medicine maker Tony Seifert; I knew him, even though I had seemingly just met him. Something inside told me I needed to be in this school and it would be fine. I already had a dear soul friend to welcome and support me.
The BHC Program
The program was intense, challenging, and all around enjoyable. I had always been interested in wellness, and I resonated with the school’s holistic approach to wellness. We spoke about many factors that impact a person’s health and well-being: diet, lifestyle, exercise, stress levels, job and relationship satisfaction, and overall enjoyment in life. The herbs were there, as well as many lectures on anatomy. Understanding what the herbs were doing on a physiological level was very exciting to me; it gave new depth to the plant allies.
What challenged me most was my lack of “nature” skills. I hadn’t really gardened, camped, or explored nature and would question my right to be at the school. Looking back, I see how illogical and silly this seems now. You go to school to learn something new; you aren’t required to be an expert at what is being taught! When I would hear these invalidating thoughts, I would also hear another internal voice that said, “It’s fine – just keep going. You will figure out what you are supposed to know.” So, I kept showing up.
Pam Fischer, the BHC school founder teaches that we grow at our edges. I experienced this when it came to actually getting out into nature. I didn’t look forward to botany classes or camping trips, but I showed up and enjoyed them once I made up my mind that they had something to teach me. They all did, and my comfort zone expanded.
A Vital Discovery
I discovered that you don’t need to be a master gardener or botanist to be an effective herbalist. And, you don’t even have to use the education to begin a professional herbalism practice! You certainly can step into a clinical herbal practice if you want, the school gives you skills for those paths. However, you reap so many other benefits from attending BHC.
I approach cooking differently; I understand how food really is medicine and use herbs and spices in deliberate ways. I work with the plants to help myself, my family, and my friends with various challenges. Before herbalism, I had been a very anxious person for years. I used the tools I learned to support and nurture myself to get the anxiety under control. Not only is it under control, it seems like it belongs to a person from another lifetime.
Another example is how I was able to help my son. He had pneumonia one time and I couldn’t understand where it came from; it seemed to appear out of nowhere and didn’t seem logical. The symptoms started showing up again, but this time I had tools from the school. I knew to look at what was going on in his life. I realized something in his diet (a heavier dairy product) was causing food-related asthma and producing mucus. My education helped me see the cause of the mucus and gave me tools to get it out and prevent a repeat situation. This might sound strange, but when I helped him expectorate the phlegm and was looking at what he coughed up, I knew at that moment that if I never did another thing with my herbal skills, that would be okay. That piece of mucus and what it represented validated all of the time and money I put into the program. I can’t describe how satisfying it is to help a loved one get out of pain. Having the ability to help my little boy was worth all I went through.
Learning to be Selfish: the Right Way
The school taught me that it isn’t selfish to put my needs first or explore my joy. When we nurture ourselves we are in a position to truly help others. You can’t inspire wellness or balance in another if you do not embody these things.
The Berkeley Herbal Center helped me facilitate my soul’s path – to teach. I was offered a chance to teach about a passion of mine, flower essences, and I’ve been doing this at the school for the past 4 years.
How to Find Amanda
Having this experience gave me the confidence to push my boundaries even farther and set up an online teaching platform. My business name is the Plant Portal. I chose this name because plants are portals to wellness on multiple levels.
These days, I am in my joy when helping people with flower essences and also when creating classes. It still amazes me how contemplating getting a job that was tolerable (and then following the inspiration from that tiny thread of excitement) led me to BHC and living my joy.
If you are reading this and something sparks in you, I’d venture to say the plants are calling you. I believe if they could verbalize it, they’d encourage you to follow whatever excitement you can in order to meet them. They have something for you; you just have to take that first step.