Volume 9.3

Of Vital Importance

Youth's Vitality

Youth’s Vitality

IN ANY CULTURE, one of the greatest assets is its youth. The youth of a culture are its future and whichever direction they choose to go, the culture may or may not continue. How can this be true around the world and throughout history? What is it about the youth that makes them so vital? It is precisely that. The vitality of the youth is an eternal spring which quenches our thirst to carry on. It is through the youth that we continue our immortality. Turning our backs on the youth is akin to walking backward, at a certain point you can go no further. We can easily recognize this point: it is not experience that makes youth valuable, it is the vitality. One can then understand the value of elders, and the need for both.

Under the oppression of colonialism a human being becomes denatured and distracted. The distractions become so great that people forget the value of their elders. People become so denatured that even the youth lose their vitality. To lose the experience of our elders and the vitality of our youth is like humanity losing its head and its heart.

One of the many beautiful aspects of what traditional cultures around the world have maintained is the integrity of the human being. This is not an easy task but it is the culture that guides them, with its traditional wisdom. There are many aspects within traditional cultures that nourish the human being. When a colonized person visits a traditional place, they are usually impressed by at least one thing: the vitality of the people, both young and old. Interestingly, traditional people exhibit this vitality throughout their life, it is normal for them to have energy throughout their day, day in and day out. It is the colonized person that suffers from low vitality. Modern cities and their conveniences denature us. There, the air we breathe, water we drink, food we eat, medicines we take and activities we engage speed us to our destruction and the destruction of our environment. If we are to face the challenge of reclaiming our healthy ways and healthy lifestyles, we must have the vitality to do so. This article focuses on a number of simple ways to increase our vitality and work to reestablish the integrity of the human being.

Diaphragmatic breathing cleans the lungs. Always take complete breaths.

Diaphragmatic breathing cleans the lungs. Always take complete breaths.

The act of breathing is a good place to begin. The air in our environment can poison us, whether it takes a few minutes or many years. Traditional healing wisdom teaches us about the formation of tumors in the brain due to toxins in the air one breathes. This condition begins with the symptom of a pattern of headaches that takes a trained healer to be able to identify. Make sure that you stay in an environment with fresh air. Be sure that you do not pollute your environment with air fresheners, cleaning products or other strong smelling odors. Incense has a purpose and that purpose is not for everyday use in the house. Also, it is not just the purity of the air itself but also the way we breathe that is very important.

Most colonized humans have developed improper breathing habits. Pay attention to the way you are breathing and see if you are utilizing all of your lungs every time you breathe. People breathing with the chest or stomach is fine, just not both. You don’t expand your lungs to capacity while breathing in but make sure to take a complete breath. Just as a glass of water becomes filled so should your lungs become filled with air, from bottom to top. And just as that glass becomes drained so too should the air from your lungs be exhaled, from top to bottom. This is what is known as diaphragmatic breathing. It assures the lungs are clean with no unused areas where disease can develop. The diaphragmatic breathing action also exerts a gentile pressure on the abdominal organs, helping them to function properly. Correct breathing increases our vitality and combats over-consumption of food.

It is from the Kemetic, or Nile Valley, culture of millennia ago that colonizers learned of and adopted the idea of three meals a day. Three meals is enough to provide us the energy we need and not put a heavy burden on our digestive system, which may decrease vitality. If one can adhere to eating three meals a day, the next refinement is to the meal itself. Choosing the right foods to eat in the right amount is important. To find out about the Kemetic food pyramid, which details our staple foods, occasional foods and emergency foods, see Sunnyside 8.4.

In the following paragraphs I will detail a number of plants that can be harvested from your backyard, park or natural area. These plants, when added to your diet, will provide a nutritious increase in vitality. Remember, when it comes to improving our situation, one of the biggest challenges we face is committing the thought and energy to do so. Don’t waste knowledge, apply it in your life and live to benefit from it.

Clover flower heads can be brewed into a tea.

Clover flower heads
can be brewed into a tea.

Early spring is a good time to harvest wild plants. However, you must be positively sure that you correctly identify what you harvest. If you consume a poisonous plant, it may kill you. Beginners start harvesting plants that are easy to recognize and have no poisonous lookalikes. Clovers make a good first choice and are usually recognized by the leaves. Clover leaves are in sets of three, occasionally four, and when in flower produce a pink or white globe like flower head. The flower heads are best collected during late-spring when the most flowers are in bloom. Fresh or dried clover flowers make a great-tasting herb tea, but avoid using any browned flower-heads. The dried flower-heads grind into an excellent flour that can be added to whole-grain flour, adding a chewy texture and natural sweetness to breads, muffins and pancakes. Further research on clovers will tell you how the leaves, stems and roots can be utilized as well.

Nutritious dandelion greens add flavor to salads or make a safe herbal remedy.

Nutritious dandelion
greens add flavor to salads or make a safe herbal remedy.

Another plant that is useful, easily recognized and readily available is the dandelion. The young leaves are best when collected in early spring, before the flowers appear. You can harvest them again in late fall when, after a frost, their protective bitterness disappears. Harvest leaves from plants growing in rich, moist soil. Plants with the broadest leaves and largest roots are the best. Select the youngest leaves and avoid all plants with flowers. Dandelion greens are delicious in salads, sauteed or steamed. It is good to cook dandelions with sweet vegetables like sliced carrot or parsnips. In salads, dandelions improve the taste when mixed with other flavors. The leaves are more nutritious than anything you can buy and the root is one of the safest and most popular herbal remedies. If you spend a lot of time outside, especially in the garden, you will probably be able to recognize dandelion

Purslane contains more omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy vegetable plant.

Purslane contains more omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy vegetable plant.

Although you may not know it by its common name, its Latin name (Portu- laca oleracea) can be used to look this valuable plant up in a reference book or online. The purslane plant is very reputable. It has a long history, over 2,000 years, of cultivation in Europe, Persia and India. It commonly grows where it is sunny and the soil is sandy. We might not think of the soil in our yard as sandy but most of it is, which is why purslane can often be found there. Once you identify it, you won’t forget what it looks like or get it confused with a look-alike. Purslane branches spread along the ground, never reaching more than an inch or two high. It is an annual plant with smooth, paddle-shaped leaves and thick, smooth, succulent stems.

Purslane plants appear in the late spring and die in the fall, producing seed throughout the season. Collect the seeds by placing branches in a paper bag for a few weeks. Then remove the seeds and strain out other debris. To separate the seeds from the small debris, or “chaff”, pour the seeds from one receptacle to another on a windy day or in front of a fan. The heavier seeds fall into the other container while the lighter-weight chaff blows away. The tasty seeds are a good addition to cereal, granola, in place of poppy seeds, or ground into flour. The stems and leaves of purslane are great in salads, eaten raw. It brings a wonderful sweet-sour flavor. Stems and leaves will thicken soups, similar to okra, and stems can also be used in casseroles or be pickled. Interestingly, purslane is not only very nutritious but is also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. Instead of buying fish oil, save some money and pick some purslane.

Begin this spring with a walk outside. Look up purslane, clover and dandelion so you can be sure to identify them. Ask for permission before entering private property and removing plants. It is best to speak with friends and neighbors about their gardens and lawns before you harvest from those areas. Find out if they are using any pesticides or chemical fertilizers and avoid those areas. Ideally, you will want to harvest from garden soil. Yard soil is ok, just avoid harvesting too close to buildings because of toxins from the roof or siding. Wash plants thoroughly and be sure to share your harvest with your family, friends and neighbors. Once you get started, continue to research and learn more about purslane, clover, dandelion and other plants you have seen on your walk. In a short time, the natural world will become your supermarket.

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