archive medicine by Chanelle Adams
November 23, 2020
This meditation is offered by essayist, translator, healing practitioner, and Danspace Project Platform 2020 writer in residence, Chanelle Adams. This meditation, available above in audio and below in text, was created in response to the Conversation Without Walls between Jasmine Hearn and Jo Stewart, facilitated by Seta Morton, and within the framework of Adams’ continued work and research on rituals of research, technologies of time, and medicine making.
find a comfortable position. you might be seated, upright, or reclining. take a moment to find support in the way that you need. throughout this meditation, i encourage you to make any necessary adjustments to bring yourself closer to care.
as you settle in, gently begin to come into this practice. i invite you to close your eyes or direct a soft gaze to a point in front of you. dropping into the present moment, gently bring your attention to the breath. take a deep cleansing breath in. and as you breathe out, maybe let out a sigh, releasing any tension stored in the breath or the body. on your next inhale, consider any space you might wish for more release, and on your exhale offer the intention of letting go.
if it is available to you, begin to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. choose care in however you carry out respiration. if this is not available to you right now, just allow my guidance to fade into the background. this is your practice. these are only suggestions.
take a deep breath in and as you exhale allow your center of gravity to sink a little deeper. invite rest into the parts of your body closest to the earth. and as you plant yourself in this present moment, really allow yourself to feel into the space beneath you. as you drop your awareness down into the points of contact with this surface, you might notice the ground coming up to meet you. this groundedness is always available to you.
if at any point you are holding more than you need to carry, you can offer it to the ground, an expression of the earth.
count to 4 as you inhale, feeling into this contact with the earth. and on your exhale, count to 4 and imagine that you are sending anything you do not need to carry with you deep into the ground. invite this intention into your breath cycle for the next few breaths – maybe feeling into that grounded support on the inhale and releasing deeper on the exhale.
inhale for four, 1, 2, 3, 4 and exhale for four, 4, 3, 2, 1.
draw in for four, 1, 2, 3, 4, release for four, 4, 3, 2, 1.
inhale 1, 2, 3, 4 and exhale, 4, 3, 2, 1.
and once more, in and out.
and with this breath, gathering what you need, and releasing what’s not necessary, i invite you to imagine yourself at the center of a library. you begin to wander around – maybe it’s a place you recognize, it could be your favorite library, or a place that is entirely new to you. taking in your surroundings, you notice a table with a book and a jar. you move slowly closer to examine the book and it flips open to a page with a set of instructions.
you reach for the book and the jar. you touch the surface of the page. what does the book feel like? is it heavy and rectangular, small and square? does it have a color? while examining the book and jar,
the air in front of you begins to bubble, like heat waves rolling from a hot surface. you feel the air parting and you realize that the book is a portal inviting you in. smiling, holding the jar and book close, you step forward.
you are being gently transported upwards in a floating elevator, seemingly lifting you up into the atmosphere. up here, you’re a bit closer to the sun. take a moment to bask in the warm light.
when you get off the elevator, you find yourself in a long hallway full of doors. still holding the book, you turn to read through the instructions. the pages explain where you are. you are inside of your archive. you are here to pull from your ancient sources to make medicine. the jar is yours to collect your ingredients. as the book explains, it can hold anything, of any size, shape, and form.
what’s here for you? as you go down the corridor, observe all that’s around you. there are many doors along the way. what do they look like? you choose a door to go through. what’s in here? you may encounter experiences and dreams, documents and memories– real and imagined– possible futures. what materials are in this room? are there boxes, instruments, textiles, seeds and soil, songs, seawater? spend a moment here.
it’s been a while since you’ve visited this archive. you might want to offload something. take a scan of your body to notice anything that may have traveled with you. maybe you encounter something you’d like to release, such as doubt or worry. set it down here to allow the archive to hold it with you.
as you’re ready, gently guide your attention back to the instructions.
the first instruction suggests that you set an intention. how might you initiate trust with this archive? take a moment to ask for the medicine that you need. you might want to light a candle, recite a prayer, or invoke protection and love. there’s a candle and notebook among any other intention setting technologies you might need to record your intention. as you place your intention, you might want to take a moment here to thank the archive and surrender to your own guiding wisdom that will move you through the space to find exactly what you need.
now you might want to move to the second instruction, which is to select your ingredients. before proceeding, take a moment to repeat your intention. know that the medicine you need will find you. as you continue down the hallway, you select, or are selected by, another door. in here, maybe you will rummage around, or intuitively open boxes. perhaps you begin with a photo album, a film, a record. what is showing itself to you? notice sensations and thoughts. take note of what is there. it might be a word, an image, an emotion, a sound, a face. anything that comes up for you, feel free to place it into your jar as you continue to spend time here in your archive.
next, you come across something that brings you immense comfort, joy, and ease. these can be memories, histories or futures that have yet to arrive. what is coming up for you to show you this ease and levity? what’s the general tone of this content? allow this material to swirl around you. gather a bunch of it and place what you’d like in your jar. watch as these new ingredients take up space in your collection.
next, you might draw your attention towards something in your archive that’s a bit more heavy or unsettled. as you meet it, you remember you have the ground to support you. what wisdom might be there? allow yourself to be honest with the information as it presents itself. distill these contents down into their expression, perhaps taking the impression of it and forming it into a flower, a poem, a color. with care, place it into the jar.
take a moment to watch this material interact with the other contents. how do these ingredients move together? allow a moment for them to naturally intermix, or separate like oil and water. consider adding heat, or letting them cool. does their composition shift? take a moment to add in or remove any other elements at this stage. once you feel that the ingredients are complete, you are ready to move on to the third instruction.
the last instruction is to make the medicine. recall your intention to trust you will make what you need to carry forward. begin stirring the substances together. using a finger, a twig, or maybe a special spoon, swirl the materials around until all pieces are in interaction. if you choose, as you mix up your medicine, you might call in energies of the present moment, such as the moon cycle, the planets, the stars. all of these elements serve to alchemize the ingredients. and also allow for what is beyond your curation, placing faith in the microbes necessary to continue to transmute with the future.
as you watch the materials blend, bubble, and settle, notice the texture. what is the temperament of this substance in this moment? what messages might it have for you? what sensations could it be sending you? what is the consistency – the character of its residue? noticing not only the components of the jar, but the lasting impression it leaves, on the stirring device, on the insides of the jar, in your body, in your breath. dropping down into these sensations, linger your attention on the qualities of the archive medicine you’re making.
spend another couple of breaths holding the jar, sitting with its residue. take a breath here, breathing into any scents or sensations. and another. inhaling and exhaling with this medicine.
the final ingredient is time. this medicine may change and adapt over time. as will you. know that this medicine is always available to you. like your archive, you may always return to it. you are a living, breathing archive. you already always hold this medicine.
before traveling back, tuck away the jar somewhere. maybe keep it close to yourself in a bag, on a shelf, in your heart. and as you re-enter the floating elevator with your medicine, you descend back towards the earth. and as you float down, to the count of four your medicine slowly infuses into your being, and as you are ready, return to the present moment and space around you.
1, 2, 3, 4