LOVE IN A JAR
Nebuchadnezzar used them to decorate palaces. Persians used them for perfume. Romans showered them from balconies at feasts. Throughout the ages, roses have symbolized love, magic, passion, and beauty. The fossils of wild roses date back 35 million years, and the cultivated rose is the oldest known flower to grace the gardens of Asia.
Grown across the world by many cultures, the rose has been revered not only for its unsurpassed beauty and fragrance but also for its healing and nourishing qualities. Early man quite possibly ate the sweet petals and tasty hips for sustenance. Because many medieval cultures attributed medicinal value to the rose, it was traditional to plant roses with herbs in medieval gardens in Europe. Roses have long been used to make teas, potions, jellies, potpourri and aromatic oils and fragrances.
Ayurveda places the rose at the pinnacle of the flower kingdom. The essence of roses contains over 3,000 different bio chemicals, making it the most complex of all aromatic oils. Rose oil has been prized throughout the ages as a way to calm the emotions, soothe stress, cool frustration, and cultivate love.
"The rose has been used in India for a long, long, time," says Vaidya R.K. Mishra, Director of Research at Maharishi Ayurveda Products International. "In Ayurveda it is used to help alleviate depression, anxiety, insomnia, irritability, and memory loss. It is also used to enhance beauty."
According to the ayurvedic texts, it is not a coincidence that the rose is associated with romance, because it balances Sadhaka Pitta, the subdosha of Pitta that governs the emotions and their effect on the heart. Sadhaka Pitta can go out of balance more easily in summer, when the hot, humid weather increases all aspects of Pitta dosha, the mind-body operator that governs heat, digestion, and metabolism in the body. So there's a physiological reason that roses have been the ideal gift to express love and forgiveness for thousands of years. They literally soothe the heart and emotions.
What may surprise you is that the rose also balances the mind. It enhances the coordination between Sadhaka Pitta and Prana Vata (the subdosha of Vata that governs the brain, head, chest, respiration, sensory perception, and the mind).
Love in A Jar
One traditional preparation of the rose is found in Rose Petal Conserve. Rose Petal Conserve contains dozens and dozens of dried rose petals, making it a concentrated, potent means for balancing the emotions. The recipe for this delightful confection can be traced back to a time when royalty gave jars of Rose Petal Conserve to their beloved if they wanted to inspire unconditional love. Later, the tradition evolved into our present-day habit of giving roses on Valentine's Day or just to say "I love you."
Rose Petal Conserve actually acts as a powerful tonic for the heart. By balancing Sadhaka Pitta, it enhances positive emotions, and intensifies the experience of happiness and bliss. I call it "Love in a Jar," because even if you are angry at someone, you can take a teaspoon of Rose Petal Conserve, and it will help you to start thinking more loving thoughts.
Rose Petal Conserve can also be added to milk or can be added to sweet lassi to make a delicious summertime drink. Try these recipes.
Sweet Rose Petal Lassi
3 parts water 1 part freshly made yogurt 1 heaping tsp. Rose Petal Conserve
Blend together for a soothing summer drink, or to pacify Pitta all year round.
Rose Petal Milk
1 cup milk 1 tsp. Rose Petal Conserve
Be sure to boil the milk and let it cool before adding the conserve. Boiling the milk makes it more digestible, but if it's too hot when you add the conserve, it will destroy the rose's delicate properties. You can drink this before bed to help balance Sadhaka Pitta and produce a more restful, sweeter, deeper sleep.
Rose Petal Thirst Quencher
If you are feeling the effects of the hot summer sun, have to skip a meal for some reason, or naturally have Pitta dosha predominating, it can be challenging to keep cool. Any time you feel extra thirsty and dry-mouthed, even when you keep drinking water, try this summer thirst quencher.
2 cups milk 1/2 tsp. fennel 1 pod cardamom seeds (crushed but not powdered) 1 small piece of licorice root 1 Tbsp. Rose Petal Conserve
Boil milk and other ingredients, except the conserve, for five minutes. Let cool to room temperature. Mix in one tablespoon of Rose Petal Conserve. Sip the milk throughout the day. If you are lactose insensitive, you can use water instead of milk.
The Rose Petal Thirst Quencher is inexpensive and simple to make, but it has many benefits. It works quickly, because you inhale the aroma of the rose as you drink it, injecting every cell of your body with rose essence. It can also soothe hyperacidity.
It's a good drink to sip before going to bed in summer, or any time Sadhaka Pitta is out of balance, which can cause you to toss, turn, and wake up before you are fully rested. Anyone who is feeling irritated all the time could benefit from this drink. They could drink it twice a day.
This mixture can also support memory, because it enhances the coordination between heart and mind and nourishes the mind with its pleasant flavor and aroma. So it's a healthy drink for people of all ages, from children to the elderly. For women, sipping this drink before and during menstruation can help stabilize the emotions.
It also has a long-term effect, because the Rose Petal Conserve enlivens all the body tissues by enlivening the cell-regeneration process, and especially regenerates the reproductive (shukra) tissues. Finally, because the rose is one of the best sources for water soluble fiber, Rose Petal Conserve and any of the drinks that contain it help cleanse the intestines and alleviate constipation.
So the next time you feel the overheated effects of summer, reach for the nearest rose. You will feel not only feel cooled, soothed, and nourished, but you might find yourself dreaming sweet dreams of the heart as well.
Note - Information provided in this article is meant solely to educate readers on Ayurveda. It is not meant to cure, diagnose, treat or mitigate any disease. If you have a medical condition, please consult a health professional.
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