How cumin seed can be used to address anxiety
Cumin seed brings us to earth, tasting of the real, the relatable, the clarity of the sensible. This makes it stand out among other spices that make you fly high, but also forget vital grounding.
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Cumin is the seed of my re-settling.
Mild anxiety is an inflammatory condition. I’m not writing about the deep, dark anxiety that strikes many of us at some point, requiring guided counselling and attention.
I am writing of the nameless anxiety we wake up to, following an urgent dream. A rush in the throat. A churn of the belly. An uncomfortable and inexplicable sense of being hemmed in that makes us short with our loved ones, dogging our steps throughout otherwise productive days.
Jeera — the warmth of wood shavings, the zing of menthol. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Adrenal anxiety — the feeling that life is a looming deadline and it looks like we might fail to make the grade.
I woke up with that sense this morning. So I rose to fried eggs with cumin seeds — the way I know to redress mental inflammation.
Cumin seed is currency and its value is pragmatism.
I married a man who is the grounding cumin seed to my high-rise chilli.
When I was a girl, I would walk in the front door every afternoon to the smell of cumin cooking off with salt and turmeric and ghee — an aroma that pulled me back to myself. It is a feeling of grounding I now experience in my husband’s arms.
Being earthed isn’t always a comfortable space. I enjoy high emotion the same way I’ve come to relish throwing chilli in my pans — I love the intensity, the height and the out-of-body lift-off that hot spice and impassioned feeling brings.
In perfect taste: I married a man who is the grounding cumin seed to my high-rise chilli. (Photo: Author)
I feed these flames of mine with companion spices and activity.
Garlic. Onion. Kala namak.
Excited coffee dates. Phone time. A glass of wine. Too many planned outings. Eventually, my emotional hyperactivity causes burnout. In a weakened state, all of my worries take flight.
Coming back to earth requires consciousness and strong, stern love from those around me.
Cumin seed is that reminder.
When I stick my nose in a katori of jeera, I smell warm wood shavings against a backdrop of cool pinecone. Cumin is complex; a spice we feel as nurture rooted not in sweetness, but in menthol.
Place a few seeds in your mouth. Chew them.
When I do this with concentration, I note how the heat drawn forward to my forehead and my face by jeera’s upfront warmth is excised by the slash of bitter eucalypt that follows. Deep love and severe words, when severe words are needed.
When I’m anxious and I’m looking not to be, this is the clearing I am training myself to seek.
Daal with jeera is the first, soft cure to the jagged edge of anxiety. (Photo: YouTube)
I start gently — my softest anti-anxiety medication is daal made with a tadka of cumin seed, coriander, fresh ginger and a little chilli fried in ghee.
But if that fails, there are others and more pungent.
Zucchini strips, whose thin and astringent flavour turns jeera, mustard oil and ground cinnamon into a mouthful of sharp reason.
Cumin, coriander and fennel seed steeped in boiling water that drinks as a hot steel sip of ‘real’.
The romantic in me needs these aromatic face slaps to pull my head out of its helium height, and reconnect me with the practical beauties and realities of my existence — just as I have come to rely on the pragmatism of my husband’s insights given from the warm home of his embrace.
In jeera, I find clarity even if I don’t want it.
Letting go of anxiety can be hard. In releasing my worry and my urgency, I am giving myself up — releasing the illusion of control.
But I am also releasing myself into the strength of grounded love and the occasional beauty of unforeseen happenings.
This is why I love cumin seed.