“…What works for you is what works. THAT’s the medicine. It may be a sleep, it may be a walk, it may be looking up at the sky through your window” – Mexican Curandera
In modern times, it seems that sometimes before we have even finished speaking about “what is wrong” in doctor’s rooms, General Practitioners seem to already be writing scripts for synthetic pharmaceuticals. How do THEY know what we need? Wherever possible, wouldn’t it be amazing if we knew what we needed ourselves?
I have spent the past 10 years of my life exploring different kinds of approaches to medicine through the various practitioners I choose to go to and I have learned so much about myself, medicine and the world, and there is so much more to learn. I am not always violently ill when I seek out guidance – it is destructive to think we only need help when things are awfully wrong. I want to thrive in life, and sometimes “just surviving” can be at cost. It is strange how many only think about health when they are sick or “sick” or sick and tired of being sick and tired and “don’t know why” so pay someone else to figure it out.
It think there is a call for us to be more in tune with our own bodies, rhythms, cycles, needs and wants and what works for us/what doesn’t. We cannot do everything alone, so that means we do need to also look outside ourselves for assistance – that may be perspective, a plant, a person or it may be a pill. But a pill should be at the end of the line only when there isn’t an alternative. Many pills just deal with the symptoms, helping us to forget that there may have been a legitimate source worth looking at and exploring rather than suppressing, numbing or ignoring. Instead of saying “why do I have a headache?”, we pop 2 Panado’s and live like it never happened. We may have eaten something our body didn’t need/like, we may have pushed too hard physically, we may be sleep deprived. Not facing those things doesn’t mean they go away – it means that they come back again, and again, until we do face them. Or until they compound and manifest as a far more serious issue. While pain killers certainly have their place, even the name indicates the harshness of effect. Metaphysically, pain can be the key to unlocking pleasure as well as the key to healing. So killing pain can set back/postpone our development.
We need to take responsibility for our own health – it is not our doctor’s responsibility. They can assist if we need them, but how we live our daily lives is the foundation of our health. I am sensing increasingly that part of sustainability is a need for us all to seek to enhance our health through nutrition, to the point where if we become sensitive enough to our bodies, we will know what we need more or less of to “tweak” how we are experiencing life through our bodies. That means developing an intimate knowledge of the solids, liquids and gasses we put into our bodies on a daily basis. We need to look closely at what we consume to truly understand why we physically feel the way we do, which of course impacts our minds, emotions and spirits in a holistic system and vice versa.
The way we perceive medicine also needs to change. Medicine is so much more than pills. Medicine can be, as mentioned in the quotation above, looking at the sky. Walking in the woods. Thinking about wolves. Dancing wildly. Making music. Silence. Curling up in bed with a book. Wandering. Wondering. Connecting with another human physically. Having a conversation with a stranger or a friend. Learning something. Seeing something old in a new way. Remembering to breathe. All these things are just a few of the things I hold useful as well as dear in my personal medicine chest. Medicines like these may not only be needed when something is “wrong” per say, but are also just wonderful to integrate as/when required. Their use doesn’t indicate that we are “sick”, just that we know what is good for us and we allow ourselves that investment. Medicine from a pharmacy is quite a different story. How about medicine from a FARM-acy?
First Aid Kits are what we have in the cupboard to help if there are minor injuries suffered in the home. These kits allow us to be “doctors” tending to minor issues in a way that prevents us needing to seek additional help from outside our circle. We are all different, so our medicine chests will differ – but we are also all human, so there will be some similarities and we can share medicines. Perhaps these medicines I speak of can be added to that First Aid Kit. We should turn in FIRST. It seems bizarre to pay someone to help us when we can help ourselves. If we can’t help ourselves, it makes more sense to me for us to first look to nature for assistance, through eating foods with the nutrients we need, or medicinal plants. This knowledge is sorely lacking amongst many modern cultures and the ancient wisdom of our ancestors needs to be tapped into far more. All those years ago, the village healer would have had to be holistic because there wasn’t the specialisation there is today – they would have had to have been doctor, herbalist, counsellor, advisor and many other roles all in one. The holistic approach is not a hippie, fluffy concept that many write it off as – it was a practical one, born of necessity.
I think the most important shift, for myself at least, is to develop a way of living that enhances my capacity to thrive, through what I choose to eat/think/do with my time, body, mind and spirit. If we become sensitive to our own rhythms, then to the rhythms, foods and fruits of the earth (which often mirror or compliment our own), we can make subtle shifts as and when required. What we put in is certainly what we get out, on a physical and a metaphysical level. We can turn to doctors so quickly to solve our ailments to try get rid of them as soon as possible, when sometimes there is more to be gained through self-exploration and discovery. I do not discredit their place, but I do think we can jump to find answers outside too quickly.
So… What is in your medicine chest?