Newsletter August 2013
Divyajyoti (Jennifer Michelsen), one of the original founders of Anahata Yoga Retreat, has recently completed her new book – “Nature’s Creation – Knowledge and Guidance Through Healing Plants”
Q. What inspired you to write this book?
My journey took me to New Zealand in 1996. Along with two of my children and their partners we purchased a property on the South Island in beautiful Golden Bay and Anahata Retreat was born. Although Anahata Retreat is now fully a residential yoga centre, it evolved, as I did, like a butterfly through various stages of development and adaptation. Since my mid-twenties I had been very focused on health and wellbeing, however, I had never been involved in the development of a sustainable seven-hectare property, including organic veggie and medicinal herb gardens. Here are the steps I took to progress from a cocoon to a butterfly:
Step 1. Form a company and come up with a five-year development plan.
Step 2. Take a two-week residential Permaculture course, followed by two, six-week courses focusing on the study of plants as food and medicine with a wise and knowledgeable garden guru. Change my perspective of everything I thought I knew and open up to learning about and working with Nature Intelligence.
Step 3. Initiate and coordinate the project of developing a very large organic garden. Begin hosting Permaculture courses at Anahata Retreat led by some amazing pioneer Permaculture Gurus. With 25 course participants the gardens and property began to flourish in a positive way. Progress by taking Permaculture teacher’s training, host and teach more Permaculture courses at Anahata working along with students.
Step 4. Build my own straw bale studio.
Step 5. Spend approximately two+ years at the Australia Satyananda Yoga ashram Rocklyn, coordinating their huge organic garden while completing my yogic studies.
Step 6. Evolve, evolve, evolve and begin writing Nature’s Creation, Knowledge & Guidance through Healing Plants.
Q. How long did it take from inspiration to publishing? Any challenges along the way?
It took approximately 10 years of research, writing, editing, and layout work to finally get the book/card set ready to publish and print…a huge learning curve. Fortunately I had an incredible team…all from Golden Bay…particularly my editor & layout professionals. It all went so smoothly and it was truly a labour of love. My only challenge was getting everything to “perfectly” match my vision, especially the artwork…this was my main challenge.
Q. From where do you gather your information about the plants?
I have a solid knowledge of herbs and their medicinal qualities from my experience coordinating organic gardens, both at Anahata and at Rocklyn, which was helpful in making the decision as to the best herbs to include in the book. Much of my initial research was through library books. I then began to use the internet as it was far less time consuming with a wider range of resources to cross reference all my information and make sure everything was correct.
Q. The images of the plants are beautiful - how did you decide to work with the illustrator for the book?
This is interesting as I’m a professional water colour artist. My intent was to paint the pictures myself. I had strong visions of what I wanted to paint and I’d done some prototypes. Unfortunately my back became an issue and I was unable to paint. I recruited my daughter-in-law who is an incredible artist, however she was unable to find the time to paint after she had her baby. Painting 43 water media pictures is a huge task and it was difficult to find someone with talent & creativity who could agree to a time commitment. By coincidence I ran into Amira in Takaka in Golden Bay and she had all the qualifications to be the right person to create my vision. We had our ups and downs achieving consistency but the final paintings are beautiful and a major part of the book.
Q. When did you become interested in plants and their healing properties?
I attended two 9 week courses in herbs with John Massey at the Takaka Organic gardens. This involved growing herbs and healing plants, preparing tinctures, medications, making flower essences and picking and cooking our lunch from the garden.
Q. How did you choose which plants to include?
It sounds a bit “esoterical” but during my courses on herbs I would approach John Massey and ask questions about a specific plant. John would direct me to that plant and ask me to sit with it, feel into its energy and receive the answer directly from the plant (from Nature). Through this experience I became interested in Nature Intelligence (Devas & Nature Spirits). I purchased the Perelandra Garden Workbook by Machelle Small Wright and began designing the Anahata gardens by establishing a conscious connection with Nature. I would ask Nature questions and receive answers through kinesiology (muscle testing) during meetings (called conings). A year or so later, it was during one of these conings that I received the inspiration to write the book with Insights…the lessons each plant teaches. Before this time, the idea of writing a book had never occurred to me and the thought was overwhelming. After much contemplation and doubting in my ability to actually do this, Nature gently directed me to start, one plant at a time under the guidance of Nature. As I finished one plant I would be given the next one. The first plant was lavender and it evolved from there.
Q. Great concept with the cards to allow the reader to choose a plant to guide them. Any plant that has a particularly personal meaning for you?
Both Tulsi & Sandalwood have deep personal meaning for me as they are both sacred plants of India. Tulsi in particular has deep significance due to its spiritual & sacred connection to the yogic tradition. Tulsi is used to deepen yogic practices and guide one on a sacred journey. Sandalwood is part of the ancient Vedic traditions of India and used to purify all who come in contact with it. It is also used to empower meditators and deepen their practices. Both plants have been utilised extensively in the 5000 year old Ayurvedic traditions.
Q. How did the creating of this book transform you? How have plants transformed your life?
The writing of the book was almost a surreal experience for me as I feel I was just a pawn in a game of chess…almost as if I was outside looking in through a window and watching the game evolve. The whole time I was writing the book and picturing the Insight cards I never once thought about financial gain. I always felt that the book was written for all the people who would truly gain from this knowledge…that Nature would make it available at the right time and direct it to the right people. In saying this, I do feel a huge sense of achievement in completing something I could never have envisioned myself doing 10 years ago.
Feature – Nature’s Creation
By Divyajyoti (Jennifer Michelsen)
A beautiful book sharing the wisdom of nature, herbs and other healing plants. Browse through the book or use the included illustrated card set to be guided to the plant with insights for you in the moment. Also includes a resource section with information on ancient systems including Yoga and Ayurveda
To buy click here