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The Healing Power of the Peony

“Earth laughs in flowers.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have taken to smelling flowers all the time of late.  This is easy to do in Oregon with my favorite flower just blooming now.  Peonies are one of the oldest flowers in the garden, with varieties dating back thousands of years.  It is a flower that is steeped in mythology and gets its name from Paeon, the physician of the Greek gods.  A peony will live for over a hundred years and can grow over 6 feet tall.  It is known as the flower of honor and riches.

These days, I carry a bloom around with me all day cupping the lush, soft and uniquely perfumed bloom in my hands as I walk. At the office, I will often run the soft petals across my face. A peony bloom is happy to sit on the top of a glass of water next to you all through the day. I bend my head in silent prayer as I hold my nose deep in the layers of soft petals and inhale. I am reminded every time I inhale how the gift of fragrance, especially that of fresh born flowers might well be the single most healing moment we can offer ourselves. Our capacity  to smell lives in the same part of our brain as our ability to emote. What we smell is  also how we feel and trust me, feeling like a lush bloom of a peony has the power to literally transform any dark mood and open the way to pure gratitude.

Indeed , Claude Monet once commented, “I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.” There is perhaps no other life form that embodies so much within such a brief lifecycle…  It is no wonder that flowers are the gift of choice for the most important passages of our lives.  Following the birth of my last baby, heavy rains kept us indoors so I kept the house  stocked with star gazer lilies. To this day, the scent brings me back to those early moments of mothering.

One thing that has become an integral part of my positivity quest is my dedication to my sense of smell. I trust my olfactory center to guide me to right thinking more readily than what I see or hear. Smelling through our lives, especially at the height of blooming flowers all around, is a lesson that would make the world more positive… no doubt.