Stress Osho zen cardDifficult situations are always harder to cope with when spattered with a lack of sleep. In the laziest effort I could make at self-help, I tossed my box of Osho zen cards face down, out on the floor and performed the wax-on, wax-off karate kid move with both hands until they were nicely shuffled, while simultaneously venting and ranting out loud, demanding answers on just when and how the stressful situation would pass.  I reached into the nicely smeared pile, and drew out a single card.  On it, was a juggling clown, balancing with one foot on a single balloon, desperately concentrating on a bunch of balls in the air, while a mischievous monkey sat calmly on the ground next to him holding a large, sharp pin, about to burst his balloon foundation. It was actually titled, “stress”.

The message was to go do something else for a while. Anything, so long as it is unimportant. Stress comes from the conflict of pretending the uncertain world is certain, when deep down your true self knows that it is not. The world won’t stop spinning if you cease worrying that it might.

Fine. So I set out to go do something else. I wandered a local naturals store and noticed a bulk herb section.  I bought a small amount of ashwagandha root, having read that it was an ancient Indian stress remedy, among other good things.  I read through many precautions and other safety info, which is always a good idea, even with natural herbs.

Here is a Livestrong article on Ashwagandha benefits, doses and warnings.

I probably should have also read up on ‘methods of use’, because once I returned home, it occurred to me that I didn’t want to just start chewing on these little dried root nibs.

The consensus online seemed to be that the fibers of the dried roots needed to be broken apart with a hammer, and then ground into powder, probably with a coffee grinder.

So I found myself marching into the kitchen, hammer in fist, completely excited at the idea of smashing ashwagandha root to smithereens. They did claim it’s meant to calm stress, and it seems to begin working even before you ingest it! Awesome.

First I measured out 5 grams. The Chopra Center  recommends a dose of 600 to 1000 milligrams twice a day.

dried ashwagandha root on scale

The hammering, while fun, was largely ineffective at breaking up the dried roots.

dried ashwagandha root and hammer


I brought out a heavy-duty mortar and pestle.  In ancient times that’s probably what they used anyway!


It took a fair amount of grinding

grinding roots with mortar and pestle

grinding roots with mortar and pestle

Then I noticed there were certain fibrous parts that stubbornly refused to be powdered with the rest.

closeup of ground root inside mortar and pestle

I found the smallest mesh colander I had and poured it all inside.

pouring ground root into seive

Carefully and slowly sifted through until nothing remained but the stubborn woody bits and my dusty fingers.


sifting through mesh with fingers


sifting through mesh with fingers

(By this time, I was so involved in doing this new “something else” that I didn’t even notice I’d forgotten to continue feeling stressed).

finished sifting and finger dust

The powder separated from the rest

powder separated from tough woody parts

Tea time! I put a small recommended amount into a reusable cloth bag and steeped for a few minutes.

ashwagandha tea steeping in mug

My sister likes to buy me weirdo gifts every year for my birthday.  I think the mouth is supposed to be a cookie warmer, but all I had were those stubborn root remnants, so in they went. (He looked a bit stressed).

ashwagandha tea in white face mug

I found the advice to ‘do something else, so long as it is unimportant’, is very effective at erasing stress. It makes sense that if we give ourselves permission to play, our minds become otherwise occupied, and the thoughts that were causing our stress get lost.  A lot of times the exhaustion we feel can be totally blamed on our stressful thoughts. Once we release them, our energy and mood increase.

I will definitely try this approach again. Test it out for yourself and let me know what you find!


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