It Takes A Village to Achieve Equanimity
Creating Medicine Box’s flagship product Equanimity was a process of putting together all of the pieces. Think of King Arthur in The Once and Future King, applying all he had learned from all of his teachers towards fulfilling his goals.
All of the communities I have been a part of – the Locals, the Sober and the Industry – have lended their own subtle contribution to the quality of Medicine Box’s products. Equanimity speaks to a place, both inside and out, where our best, most authentic selves operate from. And that place is created in large part by communities, and the entourage effect they perform upon each other to create something unique.
It’s something of a personal journey for me, too. A few years ago, after becoming sober, I hit a wall with my recovery, which happens a lot during one’s progress through it. During this time, I also contracted poison oak at one of the Medicine Box greenhouses, and spurred on by both stressors, I was prescribed 10 milligrams of Prozac. This was a particularly difficult time, because like the military, Prozac broke me down considerably before building me back up. I also found if I didn’t maintain daily usage, I would feel awful otherwise
My journey away from Prozac factors heavily into the Medicine Box story. My company’s brand values are forged from piecing together the different portions of my life. And of course, no one out here can do it alone. There’s a reason why every Academy Awards speech* acknowledges a small army of people behind the success, so for the past month, I’ve had to give credit where credit was due. All these people have taught me a valuable lesson: how to achieve, and maintain, equanimity in my life.
Stressed, without any rest
In 2017, the CDC made an unsettling announcement: the amount of people using antidepressants had shot up 65% between 1999 and 2014. In addition, we have an obesity epidemic which has ensnared 39.8% of our population. Many of these antidepressants are prescribed for more than just depression – Prozac is also used for bulimia nervosa, OCD and panic disorder as well. I would go so far to say OVERused, because without corresponding changes to people’s lifestyles, very little is truly cured or even helped. It’s just suppressed, rather than faced head-on.
And of course, I don’t have to alert any of you to opioids, which is merely another example of a rapacious pharmaceutical industry pushing its products upon you for any and all reasons. A deposition given by Purdue Pharma board member Richard Sackler revealed how at the highest levels sales representatives were encouraged to sell the drug as milder than other opiates. Because of that, oxycodone was prescribed for many other uses outside of cancer. By now, you should start to see a pattern forming here.
The older I get, the more I recognize how every single choice I make for myself once I get out of bed impacts my health, for better or worse. The people I surround myself with, the music I play, the routines and rituals I perform to maintain my sobriety – they’re all part of my healing. Cannabis is the medium that ties it all together. Collaboration and community, both within the plant and within the lives of everyone who uses it, is crucial, and it’s a totally different paradigm from the pharmaceutical model which seeks to attach you to a drug and keep you dependent upon it forever. That model has trapped too many people in a downward spiral of increasingly hazardous lifestyle choices – bad food, lack of exercise, addiction to social media, poor sleep habits – which in turn require more pharmaceutical maintenance. That reactive approach to wellness rests upon F.E.A.R. (False Evidence Appearing Real), a concept you’ll become familiar with as we dig deeper into the Medicine Box. And in order to break free from it, you need equanimity.
Grace under pressure
My work, my community and my sobriety have all collaborated to highlight the importance of equanimity to me. In short, it means grace under pressure – important whether you’re running a business, skiing a mountain, playing an instrument or raising a family. Breaking down its etymology, it breaks down into two Latin words: “aequus,” meaning “even” and “balanced,” and “animus,” which means “mind” and “spirit.” Balance in all things – work and play, spirit and body – strongly informs my working definition of wellness, with inner peace manifesting as outward well-being.
Once I began to reorder my life according to these principles as well as the traditions of communities that have embraced cannabis alongside other ancient wellness practices, I was able to progress further with my personal and professional goals in life. Many of them are extremely basic: most of you, of course, are familiar with Michael Pollan’s “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants” dictate. And getting enough sleep is key – we’ll be spending a lot of time on how important this is to the Medicine Box lifestyle in the months to come. But they all feed into each other. If you’re in equanimity, the converse of the F.E.A.R.-based, overmedicated paradigm takes place: you sleep better, you feel less anxiety and your personal and professional relationships improve across the board. Challenges will still present themselves, but you’ll handle them far more effectively – no matter who you are.
I return often to the climax of The Matrix when I consider the self-mastery required to achieve whatever goals I set for myself in life. Throughout the movie, Neo struggles with the F.E.A.R.-based mandates of ego imposed upon him by Agent Smith as he moves closer to Source. As he penetrates deeper into the Matrix, his inner wisdom, courage and strength guide him towards a recognition of his own abilities, which he finally grasps in his final confrontation with Smith in the hallway. Neo embodies the principles of equanimity in his effortless dispatch of Smith’s aggression. That strength derives from a comprehensive cultivation of one’s inner and outer life. Next month, I’ll share my own story on how I tend to my own garden, and share what I have learned from my mentors with you. After all, every Neo needs his/her Morpheus.