The Medicine of the Great Pharmacy Is All Around You.
Dignified, timeworn panels of beautifully preserved pine. Sturdy, ancient shelves stacked high, always brimming to bursting.
Rusty hinges holding the welcoming glass doors stuck, never straying from their open-armed position. These are the visual swatches that come to shape and bind my vision of what I have come to know as the Great Pharmacy. Swelling with its stocks, this chest contains a reservoir of medicine, all of the tools we could ever need to feel into the poignancy of being alive.
It permanently and patiently waits for us, whether we know it or not.
But most often we do not see its bulk or smell its earth. And even when we do get wafts of its presence, how easily we get distracted with something else, hurriedly whisked this way and that by the winds of our mind.
Lovingly brushing the hair from our eyes, this medicine nudges us to remember that in the exquisiteness of existence we are stripped of thought. Noisy chatter freely gives way to a sense of absolute, genuine wonder. Minds blown clean instead of more chaotic, our senses fill until we have no sense at all.
Just a humble, settled presence.
It is in this place that we can relax the grip we hold over our lives, stiff white fingers relieved to give up their vigil of control. We can finally know ourselves as clusters of light, dust swept about with a feather to be hung up with the stars. This is truly who we really are: a collection of cells that have been part of one great body since the beginning of time.
With the first opening of our eyes in the morning, medicine is there waiting to meet us. Do we shoot out of bed as a cannon of worry? Or do we greet the magic and mystery of our coming day with a bouquet of thanks? We do not need to squirrel away our blessings, fearfully hoarding them to some distant corners of our heart, waiting the entire day to list-make our gratitudes.
There is medicine in how we set the tone, how we create spaciousness, and how we bow down to our life as one continually overflowing sacred ritual.
When we enter into the ripening of the day, there is medicine in how we greet other people, how the choosing of our words can bring a closing or an opening in those around us. Do we feel the power of what we say? Do we know its strength, its heart-piercing impact?
We must remember to see ourselves in others, to feel into the balm that comes from true relationship communion.
There is also medicine in how you hold yourself in space, how you take care of the physical form of your delicious flesh. Your heart will hold its loyal rhythm for 100,000 new beats in this unfolding day. What other mind-boggling miracles is your body performing right now? What does the voice of your body have to tell you about what feels good, what is too much, what acts as renewal?
We engage with this renewal, this nourishment by the medicine of food and what we allow to enter our mouths. Do your meals have the energetic equivalent of cardboard or does your food have a life force that will aid your own? When does food go inside you for the wrong reasons — for stress, panic, loneliness, apathy, entertainment, or anxiety?
Consciously interacting with the medicine of food allows its vibrancy to fill and feed your own inner spark.
There is also a compelling healing energy in the breath that rides the tides of your lungs. Preoccupied and overwhelmed, we often only claim a small pocket of air from the upper chambers of our lungs. The delicate tissues of these inner trees want more movement, more engagement from you. They want you to use this oxygen to nourish, to saturate, to enliven all of your quiet corners.
But medicine dances in the bright, vibrant rooms of our eyes and ears as well. Frequencies of hope, sound waves of inspiration, vibrations of delight reach our ears, brains, hearts, but only if we let them. Awe comes through our eyes in the form of art, from humans holding other humans with curiosity in the joy of creation.
Every day we choose what we bring in, for the insidious barrage of fear, hate and doom always awaits us. There is medicine in our thoughtful choices, in our healthy boundaries, and in our blade-like discernment.
Potentially the most potent remedy of all, there is tremendous healing in the conscious choice to open our hearts. When we let the coat of arms drop to the floor — having outgrown the heavy, painful armoring from past hurts and traumas — we can instead prostrate down to a sense of genuine trust and vulnerability in our lives.
Every night that I lean over to kiss the peachy softness of my son’s cheek, there is a strange clutching in my chest, the enigma of a simultaneous closing and opening. This seizing of emotion is overpowered by the gaping-wide aperture of my heart, more persuasive than any fearful safeguarding I could ever attempt to muster.
Love presses itself upon us in the most intimate and faithful way — restoring, reviving, re-birthing us fresh to our true nature, our true selves.
You may have noticed by now, but medicine seeks to awaken us in the seemingly little things. It resides in the most ordinary spaces of our lives: how we think, interact, eat, breathe, love.
But why does feeling into this medicine still seem so hard?
Why don’t we choose more medicine in our lives?
True to form as complex beings, we have so many flavors of resistance and barrier. For some it could be the voice of rebellion that sets in, an inner foot-stomping in opposition to have to change or have something different to do. For others it could be lack of perspective, failure to see the benefits of this medicine, or believing that we don’t deserve any better.
Sometimes we are waiting for a quick fix, for someone else to do it for us. Most of the time we are just plain distracted, locked in old habits and too entrenched to know how to break free.
But these patterns and excuses keep us blind and mute to our own necessary maturation process as humans. Yes, hopefully we are all slowly learning how to grow up. At some point we must gather all of ourselves — pockets overflowing with courage — and decide to take full responsibility for ourselves.
We must learn to differentiate what and who holds joy, hope, soul, healing, and teaching, versus what deadens and douses our light.
It is all around you, this beautiful medicine. The broad doors of the Great Pharmacy are open, inviting you to more fully savor your life. You just need to walk forward now, you just need to reach inside.
Kendra Ward is lit up by crushing the current paradigm held around women and confidence, and is currently finishing her first book, Throwing Thunder: An Ecospiritual Journey into Feminine Confidence. She works as an acupuncturist and herbalist in mossy Portland, Oregon specializing in women’s health and spirituality. Learn more about Kendra at her website, or connect with her on Facebook or Instagram. Learn more about Kendra at her website, or connect with her on Facebook or Instagram.