Self-Help

❤ Africa, Blog, Port Elizabeth

Ubulawu: Africa’s Self Transformation Plant Healing Medicine


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Phytoalchemist-Herbalist-Medicinal Plant Researcher: Jean-Francois Sobiecki. BSc.Hons. EthnoBot. (UJ)., Dipl Clin Nutr. (Aus).

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Intro

My path as a herbalist healer took a long time to realize where I was for many years seeking answers to who I am. The path was not easy, yet I found great breakthroughs with plant medicines such as Ayahuasca and then later in my African healing training with Ubulawu– an African Teacher Plant medicine that helped me see or face who I am. In this article I will share with you more about this mirror medicine that I believe can help many people to connect to the deepest parts of themselves on the path of self enquiry.

Ubulawu is an undiscovered − to Western society, yet is an anciently used African plant medicine that heals the body and mind. Ubulawu is commonly used in African society to open dreaming and intuitive sensitivity and this is why I think they are called “lucky medicines” because it is lucky to experience these things. Ubulawu is made mostly from the roots but sometimes the stems or bark of particular subtle acting African psychoactive plants. Though a number of different species are used as ubulawu in Southern Africa, what is common to all these species and what makes ubulawu, ubulawu, is its ability to open the mind and increase sensitivity and intuition.

Ubulawu is a powerful medicine to enhance ones ability to listen to ones deeper personal truths.

How It Is Made

Ubulawu is prepared by soaking a certain amount of the roots or stems into 5 to 10 litres of water. This preparation is churned with a forked stick usually made from other medicinal trees. The species used in ubulawu often produces foam when churned though this is not always the case. In the morning, first thing before food or liquids are consumed, the person churns the ubulawu (ideally in a quiet, undisturbed space where one can burn a candle and have objects of prayer and spiritual devotion) and one can typically pray to ones ancestral relatives, angels or whatever one believes in, to acknowledge their place and yours in the Universe we live in, as well as to the medicine itself for healing and knowing. The person then drinks enough of this liquid to feel full and then vomiting is induced with two fingers placed to the back of the throat.

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Who Traditionally Makes It

Ubulawu is used by the indigenous people of Southern Africa to cleanse the body so as to cleanse the mind and to open knowing. Vomiting, or what can be called emesis therapy, is an important treatment method used in both African and Ayurvedic (Indian) traditional medicine (Sobiecki, 2012). In Ayurvedic medicine it is known as vamana therapy, and is used to rid the body of excess mucus and water (that is known as kapha) that collects on the lungs and “disturbs the mind and clouds the senses” (Sobiecki, 2012). This is the same purpose that the medicine has in Southern African healing as my late teacher Mrs Letty Maponya indicated when she said: ““It [ubulawu] is important to clear the lungs, which if she does not do, “clouds her inner vision.” (Sobiecki, 2012). There is an important relationship between having a clean body (chest and stomach) and a clean and open mind in African traditional medicine.

Opening Intuition + Dream Life

South African traditional healers use ubulawu to open their intuition and dreaming and to increase their learning ability. Some species are also used for people who need to heal aspects of their minds, while laypeople use it for dreaming and to increase general health and energy. It is a wonderful tool for integrating the self. Thus, ubulawu can be said to be both a physical and psycho-spiritual healing medicine. My late teacher explained that ubulawu as a medicine “gives you who you are” (Sobiecki, 2012). This in my experience is exactly what the medicine does, by slowly encouraging an opening of ones own deeper awareness one can face deeper questions about ones life and therefore the medicine can teach you about yourself. In this way ubulawu is similar to the psychoactive plant teachers of the Amazon, both having the ability for one to learn new knowledge via the medicines.  Ubulawu works similarly to ayahuasca in opening the mind, though it does this much more gradually over days and vomiting is induced rather than occurring spontaneously as happens with Ayahusaca. Ubulawu is a legal traditional medicine.

Intense States of Introspection

From my experience the process of using ubulawu requires discipline and as it is an opening medicine, even though gradual, it can lead to intense states of self introspection and questioning after around two weeks in some cases. People differ in how fast or slow they respond with the medicine too. Therefore, using ubulawu is a process of healing that requires mentoring and guidance by a trained teacher.

Different ubulawu species should not be mixed and used without the guidance of a trained traditional healer as the incorrect mixtures can cause physical and psycho-spiritual disturbance and worsening of conditions. That is why I recommend using only one species at a time as a medicine.

Warnings

As with any mind opening medicine the correct dosages is important as well as the right setting. One should try focus on ones internal process rather than be directed outwards during the time using the medicine. Social entertainment and sexual relations should be avoided. However people can still work using the medicine (day jobs) though one should try be as self focused as possible. The ability of ubulawu to open to deep states of mind and allow for dream journeying makes it very much a shamanic medicine. Ubulawu is a safe medicine though as with any vomiting therapy ubulawu is contraindicated in people with problems with digestive problems such as cardiac or gastric sphincters, reflux disease, hiatus hernia, peptic ulcer disease or surgery done on the stomach.

Cleansing The Body

From my experience ubulawu is one of the most powerful ways to cleanse the body and to open deep levels of the mind. Being initiated as an inyanga-herbalist with ubulawu it was fascinating for me to see how the medicine promoted an increased sensitivity to ordinary stimuli and like an internal mirror it slowly yet surely made me face deep questions related to my life-path.

By showing me parts of myself in this gentle yet powerful way, ubulawu can be considered a profoundly instructive plant teacher medicine that we in the West can utilize as a shamanic technology to know and heal ourselves.

“Dream Root”

A word of caution is that some ethnobotanical-psychonautical suppliers here in South Africa provide incorrectly identified plants labelled as “dream root” but that are not the correct species. I would be weary of obtaining ubulawu from online suppliers and the best approach is to work directly with a healer.

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What Does Jean Do?

Jean Francois Sobiecki is a herbalist healer and qualified nutritionist and one of South Africa’s leading psychoactive medicinal plant researchers (ethnobotanists).

His work of Phyto-Alchemy (Fyto) is about helping teach and guide people to heal themselves with through integrating:

Life and stress-anxiety counselling, nutritional assessments, plant medicines and self development process into a medicine wheel model he calls The Phytoalchemy Self Transformation Toolbox. Ubulawu is one such tool used in this process and can be used alone without the other techniques.

He has his practice based in Fourways Johannesburg, South Africa.

For more on his work see his practice page at www.phytoalchemy.co.za and for his papers and Khanyisa Garden Projects see www.khanyisagarden.co.za

Jean can be contacted at phytoalchemist@gmail.com and he does long distance skype consultations.

Ask Jean how he can help you on your healing path today!

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Creative Inspiration, South Africa

20 Quotes + Endless Inspiration!


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Inspirational Quotes

As if the Golden Globes wasn’t inspiration enough (gorgeous outfits, glittering venue, beautiful role models), I’ve sourced some pretty cool sayings to give you a fresh approach to stuff you’re facing. As we kick off the new year, here are 20 quotes for the month that are guaranteed to inspire you.

1. Don’t look where you fall, but where you slipped. – African proverb

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Creative Inspiration

Deepak Chopra + The Power of 2015!


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Deepak Chopra

Reblogged from The Irish Times online, here’s something to look forward to this coming weekend:

Last year brought us the new phrase “conscious uncoupling”; now it’s time for “conscious business”.

The people behind this Friday’s Pendulum Summit in the Convention Centre Dublin are, according to their marketing bumpf, in “the business of conscious business”, which apparently means empowering people in every sector so they can “live the life they dreamed of”.

To some, self-help speak about empowerment, motivation and mindfulness is like nails on a blackboard, but for others, the promise of fulfilling their potential will have them signing up for the Pendulum Summit faster than they can say “New Year’s resolution”.

The organisers have attracted an impressive line-up of speakers who will, we are promised, “shower the audience with truth and inspiration”.

Among those doing the truth-showering will be top thought leader and New York Times best-seller Keith Ferrazzi, personal development and stress-management expert Jack Black, and professional adventurer and entrepreneur Debra Searle.

Home-grown speakers will include International Airlines Group chief executive Willie Walsh, Greencore’s Patrick Coveney, Dundalk native Una Fox who is vice-president of enterprise data technology at the Walt Disney Company, and much-loved Ballymaloe chef Darina Allen.

Even Taoiseach Enda Kenny will be in attendance, kicking off the event with an opening address. To top it all, Deepak Chopra, surely nulli secundus in the motivational guru game, will be making the keynote speech.

But anyone considering attending should beware – the promotional material contains the following caveat: “The Pendulum Summit is not for people who want an easy life; it is for people who want an exceptional life.”

And the event is not cheap, but then can you really put a price on self-fulfilment? It seems the people behind Pendulum can – entry comes with the somewhat de-motivating price tag of €425.

Deepak Chopra Quote

❤ Digital

What is Your Truth? (Part Two) Working with Chakras


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Working with Chakras

Now that you’ve read this awesome post on how to get comfortable with yourself, we can focus on how to get all aspects of you working together in harmony. This part is about working with chakras. Energy work is one of the best ways to feel whole and balanced. It’s why yoga all over the world is so popular.

Although originating as a Buddhist belief, I’m Christian and still find it useful. With a few stretches, you focus on each of these centers and what they represent. It works for anyone. You always finish feeling energized. Take a few minutes as you concentrate on each energy center and do a yoga pose while you think on what they teach and how it applies to your life.

ROOT CHAKRA / RED

This chakra is based on being physically aware and feeling comfortable in many situations. If opened, you should feel well-balanced and sensible, stable and secure. You don’t distrust people around you for no reason.You feel present in what is happening right now, and very connected to your physical body. Think about:

– Accepting all that has been

– Forgiving yourself and others for mistakes and releasing bad energy

– Holding onto wisdom you’ve learnt

– Remembering where you come from

– Anchoring yourself in all that you are: your history, your culture, your religion, your nationality, your family, your education.

Find Your Truth Base Chakra

Yoga poses to open Root Chakra

SACRAL CHAKRA / ORANGE

This chakra deals with feeling and sexuality. If open, feelings are released with liberty and are expressed without you being over-emotional. You are open to affinity and can be passionate as well as outgoing. You also have no problems based on sexuality. You are free without comprimising your integrity or health. Think about being open to receive the romantic energy of a partner in your life; the idea of power in collaboration and strength in unity. You feel comfortable in exploring and expressing your sexuality with someone. Work on believing there is a committed, good, loyal person who will compliment you and love you unconditionally.

Working with Sacral Chakra in Finding your Truth

Yoga poses to open Sacral Chakra

 SOLAR PLEXUS CHAKRA / YELLOW

This chakra encircles confidence, especially when in a group. When open, you should feel in control and have a good feeling of dignity in yourself. This is because you recognize your self-worth and take pride in all the achievements, victories and triumphs you’ve enjoyed in life. Spend time on this chakra honouring yourself and what you’ve built – that which you have created and manifested. It’s important to thank yourself for what you have worked hard to achieve. Think on the opportunities you have taken hold of. It’s about the success of inspired action, progess, reputation and good intentions towards others. Part of your self-worth is standing your ground on your values and moral principles. Through this power chakra, you feel confident in life and embrace the endless possibilities of the future.

Working with Solar Plexus Chakra in Finding Your Truth

Yoga poses to open Solar Plexus Chakra

 HEART CHAKRA / GREEN

This chakra is all about love, caring, and endearment. When open, you seem to be compassionate and friendly, always working in amicable relationships. This chakra is about emotional empowerment, including that which you give yourself and that which you give others. It is nurturing and kind; seeing only the beauty in others. It’s acknowledging all the good people you’ve met along the way. It’s focusing on the abundance of people in the world who are happy in themselves; balanced, supportive and sweet. It’s asking God to send you more of them. It’s agreeing to honour others if they honour you; practicing mutual give and take. It’s caring for the planet and loving your environment unconditionally. The heart chakra sits right in between the three lower chakras and the three upper chakras. The three lower chakras have everything to do with your physical body, while your upper chakras are more about your spirit. It’s a deeply balancing chakra.

Working with Heart Chakra in Finding Your Truth

Yoga poses to open Heart Chakra

 THROAT CHAKRA / BLUE

This chakra is based on self-expression and communication. When the chakra is open, expressing yourself is easy. Art seems to be a great way to do this. You express your truth with comfort. You also receive others’ truth well and can assimilate information with clarity and deep understanding. It’s listening and communicating clearly, maturely and equally. It’s knowing what you want out of life and not being afraid to ask for it. It’s focusing on offering creative, helpful advice. It’s receiving the thoughts and opinions of others with humility. It’s taking responsibility for your needs and what you need to say. When it’s open, any blockages in your speech and communication dissipate and the peace of God flows through you. It’s about the nourishment of authentic communication so you can live a happy, enriched life communicating and receiving ideas freely. It’s about the potency of prayer and talking – to yourself, to others and to God.

Working with Throat Chakra in Finding Your Truth

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 3rd EYE CHAKRA / INDIGO

Like it’s name, this chakra deals with insight. When open, you have excellent clairvoyance and tend to dream a lot. You are sensitive to your “gut” feelings of intuition and follow its promptings where you can. You know your intuition has your best interests at heart. As a result of work on this chakra, you have a “knowing” of what to do or how to act in any situation. You bring out the best in any person you’re with. You adapt to situations as your intuition tells you to. You sense emotions when you’re with people and change your energy to suit the mood so you leave them feeling good about themselves. You know you can give your peace and love freely because it will flow back to you from God’s limitless fountain. As a result, you enjoy fruitful interactions and productive outcomes. It’s about versatility through higher wisdom. It’s about flexibility in thought and connecting with people in a way that generates the best result. In helping others, you enjoy the mastery that deep spiritual intelligence brings. By the same token, this chakra is about sensing danger and “seeing” ill-intentioned people so you can avoid disaster. It’s your compass to navigate through the world; sticking around the good and steering clear of the bad.

Working with 3rd Eye Chakra in Finding Your Truth

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CROWN CHAKRA / VIOLET

This is the seventh and most spiritual chakra. It encompasses a person’s wisdom and being one with the universe. When this chakra is open, prejudice disappears from your “To Do” list, and you seem to become more aware of the world and it’s connection to yourself. You access a higher wisdom; a connection to the Divine. You acknowledge your potential; all that you could be. You welcome God’s plan for your life, knowing it is good. You acknowledge that all manifestations are a result of what you think and believe. It’s about being open and asking for Divine guidance. Subsequently, it’s about receiving messages from God through people and nature. It’s owning that we’re all dreamers with the power of intention within us; creating our own reality via our thought life. We are equal parts of the same whole that is humanity. This chakra is about integration; of us with ourselves and of us with the universe God created. It is connection to lower, middle and higher self. It’s perspective on life and the ability to see the bigger picture. It’s transcendence, spiritual awakening, growth and ascension.

Working with Crown Chakra in Finding Your Truth

Yoga pose for Opening the Crown Chakra

Other yoga poses to try:

Cover Photo: Death To The Stock Photo

Blog

What is Your Truth? (Part One)


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Firstly, here's what it's not

In my acting classes at the New York Film Academy, we were often taught about embracing our inner truth. I never understood the concept. I originally thought it was just an acting thing! My teacher was strong, loud and confident. She was sure of herself and what she liked and didn’t like. She had so many stories about her days in acting class with Bradley Cooper! She was in touch with an incredible inner “knowing” of who she was. It was a core strength of utter authenticity. Over and above her clothing, there was an X-factor. It transcended a 1 dimensional existence. It was mesmerising! It was attractive! I wanted it! As the months rolled on, I threw myself into her teachings and soon came to a total understanding of the word “truth”. It wasn’t just an acting thing, it was a human thing. I ‘got’ that if we could learn to be free in our own unique footprints, we’d be so much more victorious in every day life.

So what is “Truth”?

1. It’s Not a Brand

If you’re going to try and contain your inner workings, human psyche and organically fluctuating creative spirit (also known as being a human being) in a box labelled “brand”, you’ll drive yourself crazy.

When it comes to business, there are things to a brand which must be in place. They are super relevant and should be well-planned. But publicists globally have now started a trend toward extending that concept to the personal human being. To be honest, I did enjoy reading the Personal Branding for Dummies article on developing your private brand!

Personal branding has become a huge money-making realm. Coaches in it teach us to:

+ calculate every part of ourselves precisely.

+ manipulate ourselves to portray a desired “angle” to the public at all times.

To me, that’s not branding. That’s a forced existence. It also opens up the can of worms of living for others. Can we be free in our own thoughts, feelings and emotions if we are living for others?

2. It’s Not Boxing Yourself In

Why do we have to harness the expansiveness of the human spirit to limit it to a specific way of being?

– a logo

– a colour scheme

– a fashion style

– a haircut

– an attitude

– a music taste

– a behaviour

– a profile on a social platform

I believe in giving people the freedom to come and go as they want. I believe it’s everyone’s right to decide how they want to do stuff. I personally like innovating constantly. I believe its a good way to be effective. When we box ourselves in to do certain things, we shadow the multi-faceted prism of human nature. We run the risk of putting a blanket over our natural glow which changes all the time. As individuals, we aren’t a business. We have an ebb and flow of likes and dislikes. We don’t have to box ourselves in the way businesses have to.

A Brand is the “design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s product distinct from those of other sellers.”

– Wikipedia

3. It’s Natural Distinction

We all like distinction. But we must remember that we don’t need to do any work in trying to be distinct. As humans from totally different backgrounds, countries, personal histories, families, religions and cultures, we already are distinct. We can simply stand in that. We don’t need to try harder to stand out more. We are already individual just by being here. No one else has our story.

I wouldn’t be looking at this topic if it hadn’t come up as a theme in my own life. Many people ask me about how I crafted my “brand” and I have no idea what they mean. I’ve always gone with the flow of my spirit and what it likes, when it likes it.

The whole idea of personal branding highlights the importance to me to draw the distinction between being human and being a brand. It’s my belief we should do away with the pressure of “branding” ourselves if we’re ever to live naturally and freely in the world.

We want to live naturally so we can be empowered in ourselves; so we can be happy. I think people can confuse themselves by trying to assign adjectives and labels to their being. Some spend hours crafting their behaviour and appearance across all their portals because they think they should. It stops being healthy when it comprimises your sanity.

4. It’s Your Own Style

I have friends who are actors, writers, designers, musicians, bloggers, models. They’re people with good talents first and foremost. They’ve started:

– dressing in a certain way to be “appealing”

– posting updates on Facebook about topics they’re not really into

– instagramming certain things

– speaking in a certain way

– tailoring their Facebook pages to be a certain “look”

There’s a part of them that feels they have to. But it sounds like a lot of effort to stage themselves for the world. Rather cultivate your own style of talking online; post about what you really like. I value the power of branding and marketing/PR strategy in the workplace. But when living as a personal entity, I see more power in authenticity. We can have many tastes and celebrate our varied preferences on a daily basis. There’s no need to label any of it, or change it to suit the world. It’s our individuality that makes us special.

At castings, I see people come in having changed their hairstyle or “look” because their agent said they must be a different “brand”. They change themselves. They try to be someone they authentically aren’t. It’s a disservice to their natural strengths, which no one else has. People can make the mistake of thinking fashion defines them. It doesn’t. You can choose to be classic and simple this week, and next week wear a scruffy sundress with messy hair. One of the constraints personal branding puts on people is to stick to a certain fashion. Fashion can hide who we really are. A lot of time can be saved when we realise we don’t need to focus too much on the tactics of branding as the world knows it in our personal capacity. Simply have core principles and the rest is fat on the bone.

5. It’s Your X-Factor

If I think about it, let’s look at it practically. My husband one day won’t fit in to any “brand”. All I know is that the essence of his spirit will transcend what he’s wearing, what he’s driving, what music he’s listening to, how he acts, what his website looks like, what his instagram looks like, what he tweets or how popular he is on Facebook. My impression of him will be superior to all that. His business is one thing, his human-ness and personality is another. That’s his X-factor. His business needs a brand, he doesn’t. I know he will change every day. His tastes will evolve according to his truth, his fashion sense will transform over time, his values will change, his passions will vary. His simple, elegant “way of being” will fly in the face of any personal brand he meticulously crafted once. He won’t overthink his existence. And I won’t be able to put my finger on why I like him.

6. It’s Your Common Sense

Some things to me are common sense, not brand buzzwords. Things like:

– Be authentic

– Treat others with respect

– Stand out in your own way

I also believe we all know these things on a instinctive level. There’s a deep X-factor which is all of you that you cannot force or change. You can try to dress it up or manipulate it to stick to an “angle”, but that wouldn’t be truth. That wouldn’t be your common sense.

7. It’s Changing Everyday

When you put labels on yourself, you create a need to be loyal to “consistency” which brand building entails. This is pressure. As human beings, we are naturally inconsistent. Things are happening to us every day which shape how we think and how we do things. What I feel today will be different to what I feel tomorrow. To force yourself to be the same all the time could be suffocating. To force others to be the same is also suffocating. That’s a huge disservice to the mind. We should all give ourselves equal permission to flourish.

When you agree to trust and surrender to who you really are on a daily basis, you’ll have a deep contentment. You’ll stop needing to control yourself or others. Business is the only thing that needs a “spin” on it.

Truth begins with knowing who you are this morning and that you will grow and adapt by sunset. It’s enjoying your personal way of being and of doing. It’s not trying to understand it, it’s going with the flow of it. It’s being proud of it. My teacher knew that.

– It’s Not a Brand

– It’s Not Boxing Yourself In

– It’s Natural Distinction

– It’s Your Own Style

– It’s Your X-Factor

– It’s Your Common Sense

– It’s Changing Every Day

My teacher embraced these things. As a result, she was whole. It made her energy irresistable.

Sell your cleverness and purchase bewilderment.

– Rumi

Photo: Death to the Stock