Lavender is a wonderful plant, known for its ability to relieve stress, ease headache pain, reduce tense muscles and bring restful sleep. It is also antiseptic and can be used to treat minor abrasions and insect bites.
A simple lavender eye pillow is one of the most soothing remedies for those times when sleep will not come. A silky-soft and attractive eye pillow is very easy to make, and it is also a great handmade gift item. An eye pillow helps to calm the mind, and it is a welcome stress relief for the travel-weary and for fatigue and eyestrain from overwork. It can be used for power naps, and for relief from headaches.
To make the cloth pillow, use a soft natural fiber such as cotton or flannel, or for a luxurious silky feel, I will use silk. For superior healing effect, I always choose an all-natural fabric, especially when there is direct contact with the skin. The filling is a mixture of whole flax seeds and lavender, with the option of adding other herbs of your choice. The mixture will last for more than a year before being replaced; the lavender scent can be replenished from time to time with a few drops of lavender essential oil added to the pillow.
Cut the cloth in a square – about 8 or 9 inches by 8 or 9 inches. Fold the fabric in half, with the wrong side out, and stitch three sides, leaving one shorter side open. You can machine stitch or hand-stitch; if the fabric will tend to fray, you can machine stitch with a zig-zag along the edge. People love the little eye pillows as gifts, and a gift that is hand-stitched with love has a personalized touch.
Something that is handmade especially for a loved one embodies the loving intent of the giver, and has value and meaning beyond the individual components that make up the article. For insight into the healing power of thoughts and prayers on something as simple yet essential as water, you might be interested in the work of Dr. Masaru Emoto, author of the book The Hidden Messages of Water.
Once the cloth pillow is ready, pour the flaxseed and herb mixture in, and then stitch end seam of the pillow closed. Be sure to fill the pillow very loosely, which will allow it to be flexible enough to fit softly and comfortably over the eyes. It is easier to fill the pillow by using a small funnel so that there is less spillage. You can replace the flax and herb mixture by opening the end of the pillow and replacing the contents with a freshly-made herbal mix.
I like to use a simple base of flax seed, kept whole. The flax seed is perfect filler, being soft yet giving the pillow a bit of weight. The whole seed has a thick outer coat that will last a good while and will stand up to repeated warming and cooling. The size of the flax seeds is perfect for allowing the pillow to follow the contours of the face. The flax seed should be the whole roasted seed; it will last for a year or more without going rancid.
The dried lavender herb can be mixed with other favorite herbs such as dried rose petals or wormwood herb. Dried chamomile is also relaxing and soothing. The herbal mix should be coarsely ground; I like to use a porcelain mortar and pestle. Finally, combine the herbal blend with the flax seed, and stir in a few drops of therapeutic grade lavender essential oil. The flax seed eye pillow may be gently warmed in the microwave for 20 seconds, or kept in the freezer for a few hours for a cooling effect.
This is one of my favorite recipes for eye pillows:
½ cup whole roasted flaxseed
½ cup dried lavender buds
2-4 drops of pure therapeutic grade lavender essential oil
You may add in other herbs to complement the basic mix:
2 Tablespoons dried rose petals and 2 Tablespoons dried peppermint leaves
Or, add in 2 Tablespoons of chamomile instead of the peppermint leaves
Design your own mix; you can use flax seed alone, which gives the pillow a bit more weight for a soothing effect that some may prefer. Some other herbs that are wonderful for eye pillows are:
Lemon balm, jasmine, or hops
Marjoram or rosemary
You can also make your own soothing pillow like those in the expensive resort spas, using lavender mixed in a base of organic buckwheat hulls. The mix is 2 or more cups of lavender, 2 pounds of organic buckwheat hulls. Fill a natural all-cotton pillowcase and stitch up the end. This makes a spa sized pillow which is a quarter of the size of a standard pillow. For a full size pillow you will need 5-8 pounds of buckwheat hulls and proportionately more lavender. The cotton pillow can then be covered with another pillowcase, or even a pretty decorative cover if you wish.
While you are at it, make a keyboard wrist support; a quick way is to fill a soft cotton tube sock with the lavender and buckwheat hull mixture and stitch it closed or simply tie a knot to secure.
Lavender is a hardy perennial that can be grown easily in the garden, rarely needing water or fertilizer once it has been established. It likes a sunny spot with slightly alkaline soil. It does not like to be over wet, so some people will put a layer of small rocks in the planting hole, just like you would with a potted plant, below where the roots will lie, in order to keep the site well-drained. It is difficult to start from seed without several steps to prepare the seed, so choosing a variety from your local nursery is your best bet. With a few simple needs met, lavender plant will bloom early to late summer. Harvest the lavender when the lowest flowers on each stem just barely start to open; cut the stem at its base near the foliage, bundle about a hundred of the flowers together and tie the bunch together. Then, hang the bundle upside down in a cool, dry location indoors away from direct sunlight for about two weeks.
Have you tried growing and using your own healthy herbs? Which ones are your favorites, and which have you found to be the easiest to grow? Please write in about your experiences in the Comments section below.
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