What is mental clarity? And does clarity reside only in the mind? In the West, we associate the “mind” with the brain, but is this true? In many indigenous medicine practices, the “mind” is said to begin in the heart. For example, in Ayurveda, “the root” of the mind lives within the heart, and this channel encompasses the whole physical body. I encourage you to drop into the “mind” of your heart as I share some of my favorite plant medicine from different traditions.
Gotu Kola or Brahmi (Centella Asiatica) is one of the plants near and dear to me. It is my favorite remedy for mental clarity. When I first began my plant medicine journey, I was fascinated by Ayurvedic theory, and I came across Gotu Kola when researching plants that correspond with the three doshas. In Ayurveda, Gotu Kola in moderation balances each dosha. If taken in excess, it can aggravate the Vata dosha.
My first experience with this herb was ingesting it as a tea. I sat quietly in my bathroom, in the dark, with headphones on, to quiet my senses in order to go within. The book The Yoga of Herbs states that Gotu Kola traditionally was used to, “Increase intelligence, longevity, and memory.” After my first sip of tea, I felt like I received a divine download. These were the instructions: “feel the spaciousness behind your heart, adjust your posture, understand that the way you structure your thoughts is how you structure your body.” My racing thoughts slowed down—what I assumed would feel like mental power and a sense of focus was instead a subtle sense of space, stillness, and awareness. Gotu Kola is used as a tea infusion and in medicinal oils. I invite anyone seeking to cultivate a deeper sense of understanding the mind body connection, greater mental stability, and anyone who regularly practices postures and meditation consistently to delight in Gotu Kola.