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Peeling back the layers, getting to the heart of the matter- Artichokes lessons from nature.

Each season has so much to share not only in the fruits and harvest, but also in the messages and lessons nature can teach us.

This summer growing in abundance in our beautiful garden were artichokes, some have been there years and others planted by my husband who is super talented with gardens and working with nature.

Rising high from the earth, we cut them to eat, we couldn’t keep up with their generous offerings even with handing them out to friends and family. Artichokes are immature flower buds from the thistle family, they are a good source of fibre and have a host of nutrients. They are also known to help regulate blood pressure and improve liver health.

As well as being an absolute favourite of mine to eat, this summer as I savoured the seasonal vegetable, I couldn’t help but compere the experience and process of uncovering the heart of the artichoke to that of opening to our own heart and the journey to get there.

It takes time, it’s not easy but it is worth the effort and pain, as the prize is so valuable. Peeling back the layers, ritually, taking time, care and trusting in the process is key to this.

As we savoured the earthy flavours the ritual of getting to the ‘best bit’ was both enjoyable and tricky in equal measure. Handling them with respect and care, as the prickly heads needed to be boiled in a huge pan for an hour, then drained and carefully placed on plates with a side of local grass feed butter and sea salt.

The outer petals then pulled one by one, dipped in the butter and the salt then the fleshly part pulled off between the teeth and discarded in a big bowl, each bite a taste of the prize to come, the heart is the goal, but before you get there patience and perseverance is required, you cannot rush the process.

Each leave is a small prize in itself, and the closer you get you start to relax and methodological enjoy the ritual of pulling the leaf, dipping it the golden butter and grainy salt and then the tender bite before you move onto then next and the next and the next, this is not fast food.

Seeing this differently, each leaf can be thought of as a lesson from life we have been through, there might be pain (as in the spikey part we encounter at first), but the part that is deep down, connected to the heart, when we pull it out and look closely, holds the prize of the life lesson, bite it off, digest the lesson and take from it the good and then discard the part that no longer serves and move on to the next.

Until finally you reach the choke, here extra care is needed, and another stage in the ritual, teasing the fine feathery compressed choke away from the heart.

I see this stage as the part where we need to get through our own biggest block or move beyond the part which is the hardest to swallow, but as we extract it and process this final layer, we arrive at the prize, the heart, super tender and worth all that work, you can now enjoy the rich, earthy, meaty flavour, the journey was work but worth the result.

As with this process, to get to the heart, and our heart, we need to process many layers, sometimes revisiting pain, with endurance and self compassion, taking small steps, enjoying the good we uncover, while also discarding what we need to let go of with the faith that nature will absorb it and finally trusting that we will arrive home to the heart, the seat of the soul, where we align with our true nature, and celebrate that feeling, knowing we have arrived ‘home’ and isn’t this what we are all seeking?

The artichokes we didn’t manage to cut, we left, the buds opened and in the middle a vibrant purple/violet crow appeared from the centre, (if you are familiar with the charkas this colour is associated with the crown charka) they gave more to nature, attracting bees gathering busily on the cushioned thrones, we left them to be enjoyed then as they faded they were cut, the leaves are still magnificent in the boarders, giving architectural structure, pattern and a colour of soft green.

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