Ah, Spring. She has finally arrived here on the Palouse, after a long, cold, dark, wet winter. The sun is shining, the days are longer, and flowers and leaf buds abound. So much to celebrate! So why are so many folks crying? Why are our eyes red, and our noses running? Take a closer look, and you will see: we are not crying. We have allergies! Here are five ways to soothe the eye irritation that so many of us can suffer when pollen counts mount.
1. Chrysanthemum tea or Chamomile tea compress. Plant pollen can cause allergic reactions and irritate our eyes, but plants also give us leaves and roots, flowers and stems, to use as remedies for many ailments. To soothe irritated eyes and reduce redness, simmer Chrysanthemum or chamomile flowers in water; allow to cool; soak a washcloth in the tea and apply over closed eyes for twenty minutes.
2. Rose water rinse. Roses smell so lovely, and they also help sooth itchy eyes. With eyes closed, spray rose water over your whole face, or use a cotton swab soaked in rosewater to wash your eyelids and face. Do this as often as you please.
3. Clean air. Cleaning up the air outdoors is a long, ongoing process, part socio-political, and part scientific and educational. Keep writing your legislators and researching the science behind the effects of industry emissions. As for pollens, they are a necessary part of our ecosystem, so we must learn to coexist with them. An indoor air filter can remove pollens, airborne pollutants, microorganisms and other irritants from your household air. Using one in your bedroom cleans the air you breathe over 1/3 of your life, and can give you daily relief from environmental allergies and irritants. Our naturopathic correspondent recommends IQAir’s products (http://www.iqair.com/); she says Blue Air (/www.blueair.com) also makes a good electrostatic filter.
4. Qigong for your eyes. Qigong, the ancient Chinese system of visualization, breath work, and movement used for supporting health, offers many benefits and a lifetime of learning and growth. Start right now: rub the palms of your hand together for 30 to 60 seconds, then place your palms lightly over your eyes; relax your eyes, leaving them open or closing them, and let them absorb the cleansing, renewing qi from your palms. Repeat as often as you like. And if you like what qigong does for your eyes, don’t stop there! The Chinese medical view is that everything is connected, so to maintain the health of one organ system, it’s best to attend to your whole body’s wellbeing. To find a qigong class, call your local acupuncturist, or check the Uma Center’s online calendar for current classes.
5. Metaphysics: The eyes are not just for reading, watching shows (yeah, cut way down on screen time!), and avoiding walking into walls. When we see clearly, we can form plans and make decisions; in this way, inner sight is the beginning of creativity. A few minutes every day of sitting quietly with closed eyes, and turning our awareness inward can be renewing and can help us develop the clarity of our vision.
Happy Spring. May we all walk forward in appreciation of the ever-changing world around us, with open eyes and a clear view.