When I try to recall how I was feeling in January of 2020, it seems like a decade ago. I entered this year feeling like it was going to be an inflection point in my personal life and in my business. After a couple of years of massive transitions and challenges in my micro-universe, I was confident that 2020 would bring me 20/20 vision about my path. And I suppose it did, just not in any way I could have expected.
There have been so many metaphorical storms this year, I lost count along the way. At the time of writing, mid-October, it feels something like the eye of a hurricane—a moment of relative calm, where we can assess current safety of ourselves and those around us, in the brief time before the next wave hits. Anticipation and anxiety around the election is intense, and Covid-19 rates are starting to rise rapidly with the arrival of cooler weather. It seems as if the next wave may drive us even further into isolation, distancing, and self-protection than the last.
I have battled with Crohn’s Disease for nearly 25 years now, and I have found that the physical symptoms of this disease are intrinsically linked to my mental states. I can literally stress myself into a flare up, which consists of inflammation in my gut and throughout my body. When I’m overcome with inflammation, I end up feeling exhausted and depressed, unable to focus or create. That stresses me out further, and thus the feedback loop begins
In order to work with this disease, I’ve had to find ways to break the stress and inflammation cycle when it’s occurring, and to maintain balance when the disease is in remission. This has been such a defining part of my life’s journey that I often take it for granted. However, during the course of this year, I’ve witnessed many friends struggling to maintain balance as all the chaos threatens to overwhelm them. Emotional burdens, old and new traumas, existential dread, and deep uncertainty all create a stress state, and this relentless year has caused this to be a chronic condition for many. Beyond the mental and emotional effects of chronic stress, our physical health can be weakened by it, through immune system compromise, cortisol build up and adrenal fatigue, and inflammation that has both short term and long term deleterious effects.
In the early study of psychedelic compounds, a fundamental insight was the effect of set and setting on the quality of someone’s experience. In those days, the compounds they were studying were considered to be “psychotomimetic,” or psychosis inducing, and essentially anxiety producing. Today, the relentless onslaught of information throughout our environments seems to be perhaps even more psychotomimetic than those psychedelic compounds. As shown in the recent documentary, The Social Dilemma, the technological tools that most of us now use to stay connected and informed have seemingly been weaponized against us, keeping us in a state of anxiety and stress. This has been compounded dramatically in the chaos of mortal threats in 2020.
With this mind-body connection in mind, I’ve found the most benefit from practices or techniques that include both elements. I find that if a medicine or exercise has some noticeable benefit on its own, it has an enhanced benefit when coupled with an intentional mental or emotional practice. For example, while a dropper full of our CBD tincture helps me rest better at night, I sleep even better when I also shut down my electronics a couple of hours before bedtime and take some time to be still—perhaps watching the stars or building a fire. The combination seems to result in a greater effect than either on its own.
We consider this in our product design at Lux Botanics, as well. We assume that the benefits derived from our products can be enhanced or potentiated through the way in which they are used. We explore the use of our products in conjunction with other products and practices.
One beautiful, relaxing, peaceful combo I’ve been working with revolves around smoke. My introduction to cannabis was through smoking, and I have a lot of nostalgia for that ritual. However, at this stage of life, I have no interest in the coughing and hacking and couch-lock of those college days. With the emergence of hemp flower in recent years, I’ve been able to revisit cannabis smoking without an overwhelming THC high. I’ve enjoyed blending our hemp flower (Chardonnay is my favorite, both relaxing and clear headed) with a truly special herbal smoking blend from Runs With Deer Apothecary, Ritual Smoke. I blend the Chardonnay flower 50/50 with the Ritual Smoke and roll it into a cigarette. Then, I light up some frankincense from Awaken To The One in a brass burner they imported from Nepal. With the smoke drifting from the burner and the herbal cigarette lit, I build a fire and meditate on the flames. I try to focus on gratitude for the plants that I’m burning in these three different ways, which represent mind, body, and spirit to me.
While we all hope that the worst challenges of 2020 are able to be put behind us in the coming months, these stresses also revealed a lot about our vulnerability. Our planet and our society are damaged from decades of exploitation, and the healing process will take decades, as well. That healing is the work of our lives. If we are to be effective healers in this sense, we must not neglect to heal ourselves, in mind, body, and spirit. Please share your techniques, and we will share ours, on the path ahead.