By now, you’ve gotten used to a lot of worries that weren’t a part of your vocabulary at the beginning of the year. Some of those are related to the health-care crisis; others are related to ongoing struggles for liberation, justice and fairness disputed and fought for around the country and world in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.
This distinguishes our Age of Anxiety from the post-WWII malaise envisioned by W. H. Auden when he coined the phrase in the last century. But we’re confronted with it all, in varying degrees, and the only place we have to turn to for solace is each other.
You could be marching on the streets or cooped up in the house, but if you’re in the least bit empathetic, living through this period is going to be a roller-coaster ride, and the changes crying out to be made will not come without cost. No matter what side you’re going to end up on, you will need to find calm and peace within yourself — because being able to remain calm in the middle of chaos will make all the difference in seeing this moment through. So handling uncertainty will be crucial in all of this.
Following are some steps I take, every single day, to handle the stress that comes with uncertainty. I take it alongside my bulletproof coffee and my Equanimity every day to get me through it. The decisions you will make for yourself and your loved ones are unique to yourself, but the tools I use to keep sharp are applicable in just about every circumstance. Again, equanimity is not just one of our tinctures, but a daily asana that keeps me sober, focused and courageous against each risk I take every day in my life. So let’s go through them.
Step #1: Don’t anesthetize yourself
That’s a tricky one to understand. Obviously, most people turn to things like work, sex, drugs, exercise or just about anything else to push away the difficulty. Well, take it from me as a grateful alcoholic and drug addict in recovery: once these things become crutches, they start to expose you to all the things you are looking to avoid. Much of that compulsion stems from an inability to admit your ego can’t control all the outcomes, so you seize upon the one thing that IS under your control and focus upon it to the exclusion of everything else. The lockdown we’ve collectively endured richly fertilizes the growth of all sorts of mental illness, including the obsessive, fear-driven ruts that underpin all sorts of addictions.
Step #2: Do the best you can and move on
As my mentor Michael Hollister always said to me at the end of our monthly meetings, “That’s the best we are going to be able to do today, Brian.” He’d say this to me no matter what the outcome of that day would be, and remind me to trust the journey. His main skillset was in creating a “gestalt” made up of disparate elements, such as OG growers and academics. I think more in terms of embracing chaos and surfing on it just like OG extreme skiers like Glenn Plake and Scott Schmitt did back in the day. Either way, it comes towards working with chaos and learning how to thrive in it — and how not to be intimidated in those inevitable moments when it goes against you.
Obviously, as an entrepreneur, this means something very specific to me, but every one of you are on your own journey with this. Educating your kids, dealing with unprepared workplaces, organizing on the streets or in social media — the list goes on and on. Managing what is under your control and recognizing where one does possess agency is crucial at this point, and it takes equal parts courage and forbearance. The forbearance assists you with future tripping, while the courage gets you back up to take advantage of whatever time you have left on earth.
Step #3: Find the purpose and the message
In life, it helps to take control of one’s narrative, no matter how it may change from day to day. It’s been relatively easy for me, since I work with specific herbs, and my success is derived from how closely I listen to and learn from the plants. But the fact is we ALL have to master our circumstances and our surroundings. Just earlier this year, I wrote a guest blog recommending how companies should tackle 2020, and spoiler alert, no, Medicine Box didn’t see the pandemic in front of us. But we adapted and listened even to this virus that could still sicken and perhaps even kill me or anyone on my team — because we had no choice. We either master this circumstance, or it crushes us.
It is simplified for me by possessing a clear purpose, which is tied closely to my business and my desire to heal the planet. For others it could be raising one’s kids, or combating climate change, or building a better mousetrap — the list goes on. We all get to choose our own adventure in life — or even if we want to apply any meaning to it whatsoever. As the Buddhists like to say, “Sabbe pi dukkha,” — life is suffering. This means struggles with foes like depression and anxiety are inevitable. But you can either give into them, or you can fight back. Finding purpose is one way to do this.
Step #4: Listen to the plants
We all have to take in information, nutrients and air to survive. So taking in the right things you’ll need to rest, eat and live easier matters right now. And you will need to keep it as non-toxic as possible. For those of you tuning in, those are the choices we’ve made for the tinctures in our 1CaB collection. Equanimity and Happy Belly act as natural soothers, acting through both sleep and digestion to create new stores of serotonin which can aid in diminishing stress and anxiety naturally. Vital Recovery adds several medicinal mushrooms — reishi, maitake and chaga — along with hemp and wellness standbys such as saffron and turmeric root to energize and revivify your outlook. It lays the foundation for everything that comes afterwards, making every step towards confronting fear and uncertainty easier to face.
Step #5: Know that death and taxes aren’t the only certainties in life
It’s always good to have a good anchor for your life — something that isn’t going away any time soon, and that exists regardless of society’s stressors. For me, it’s Lake Tahoe and the Sierras I can look upon every day, not to mention the herbs and the plants that keep me together. Knowing that I can provide for my own well-being and share that with others makes all the difference. YOU also possess the strength to do that for others too, in your own way. Let us know if you ever need help finding it.