And breathe…. 2… 3…. Those beautiful moments, wind flowing through your hair, sat cross legged with the hum of a relaxing CD playing in your ears, with nothing but peaceful and mindful thoughts. If only, you think, if only there was a way to make this even better, even calmer. Perhaps there is. Cannabis and meditation may be a combination you hadn’t considered before, but trust me… it will change the way you think about thinking deeply.
Sometimes, it’s impossible to completely focus and to completely lose yourself in the process of meditation especially in today’s busy modern world. But, with the promising powers of Cannabis and its component parts, meditation has become a lot more accessible. In this article, I’ll review the long history of Cannabis and meditation as well as looking at the benefits of combining them as well as the benefits of meditation alone. So, take a deep breath, light your incense and prepare for a thought provoking journey through the relationship between Cannabis and Meditation.
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‘The greatest thing in the world to know, is oneself’ – Montaigne
Meditation is defined as ‘a set of techniques that are intended to encourage a heightened state of awareness and focused attention.’ It is an ancient practice, with its origins found in both India and China. In India, there is a written record of meditation practices from 1500 BC, where it was called ‘dhyana’ and was used to focus the mind. In china, meditation may be even older, with dhaoist monks using meditative processes as far back at the 3rd century BC. With such an ancient origin, it is no surprise that meditation is still used so frequently today and in fact is constantly evolving. A newer form of secular meditation has become exceptionally popular in the modern world, called mindfulness. Mindfulness is all about being present with your thoughts and though it has a different name, it is still a process with its roots in the ancient meditation methods. For some people meditation is a religious process, for others it is a way to relax and calm down a busy mind after a long day.
The process of meditating requires an individual to focus on their breathing, not their thoughts. Being present with your body and taking the time to let yourself relax and centre your mind. For those who haven’t tried meditation before I recommend some of the following steps: 1. Make sure you’re somewhere quiet and peaceful. 2. Position yourself comfortably, don’t worry about crossing your legs, but make sure you’re comfortable enough to sit for a while in one position. 3. Focus on your breathing. Take deep breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth. WIth each breath be mindful of the flow of air. Keep that focus on your breathing. In and out. 4. Don’t worry if you’re thinking of other things, of course your mind will go off on tangents, but try and bring yourself back to your breath. Follow these steps and hopefully you’ll have a fulfilling experience.
Before we even take a look at how brilliant combining Cannabis and meditation is, we have to spend some time giving meditation alone its dues. Consistent research has shown that meditation has a multitude of benefits. A study found that regular meditation actually causes positive changes to brain anatomy, increasing activity in areas associated with empathy. Further research, reviewing the many benefits of meditation, showed that it was linked to improving Irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety and even high blood pressure. It’s clear to see that meditation should become a solid part of everyone’s daily lives, but how does Cannabis tie in with this?
The History of Cannabis and Meditation
Interestingly enough, Cannabis and meditation actually have a long history. Cannabis was used regularly in India and the Indus region where it was considered one of the sacred plants in the Atharva Veda, a collection of sacred texts where it is also written that the Lord Shiva would consume Cannabis to clear his thoughts and rejuvenate his mind. The plant’s many benefits were known, including medical and recreational uses, but it was also used to guide meditations and focus thought. In Tibet, Tantric monks would use Cannabis to help with their meditations as well.
There was an abundance of the plant in Tibet and it was also used for its many medicinal reasons as well as for meditation. In Modern day Nepal, Hindu priests called Sadhus are given permission by the government to smoke Cannabis as part of a holy festival to imitate the god Shiva and aids them in meditations. When asked about their use of Cannabis, 80% of Sadhus claimed that it aided in their meditation. There is a clear combined history between Cannabis and meditation that demonstrates what an impressive combination the two make, but how does Cannabis actually affect Meditation?
Cannabis and Meditation
It’s well known that Cannabis produces a calming effect which suits meditation perfectly, but what is the science behind this? Cannabinoids, the chemicals inside Cannabis that have an effect on our bodies and brains through acting on the Endocannabinoid system, offer many possible advantages for meditators. CBD has been shown to reduce anxiety, create a sense of calmness and even reduce pain in chronic pain sufferers. There is also a growing amount of evidence linking CBD to improving motivation in some disorders.
All of the above factors improved by CBD are clearly going to help with the process of meditation. If you are distracted by anxious thoughts, or are finding it hard to motivate yourself in the process of starting a meditation session, then CBD will improve your experience. The calmness created is a sure fire way to maximise the benefits of Meditation and allow you to clear your mind. THC, another cannabinoid found in cannabis, is linked to creativity which is also perfect for allowing your brain to wonder as you meditate, if you use meditation for the generation of new ideas.
How to Meditate with Cannabis
So you’ve decided that Cannabis might be the best addition to your meditation routine, but how best to enjoy it? Well, any way in which you’d usually enjoy Cannabis, smoked, eaten or using oils. Of course, the method you choose will tailor how you should then meditate. For example, if you decide to smoke cannabis before meditating, it is advisable to wait about 10-15 minutes before starting your meditation so that you get the best out of both. For edibles, you should wait around an hour before starting to meditate. If you start too soon after consuming the edible, you may finish your meditation before feeling any kind of high.
Consider the strain of Cannabis you opt for as well. It is recommended that Sativa strains will help energise and focus you, whereas Indica strains are much more relaxing and of course, just CBD oils will give you the calm and relaxed sensations without the more psychotropic effects of Cannabis or THC. My advice is to do some research and find the best Cannabis strain or product for the meditation you choose to enjoy. Another tip for a first time Cannabis high is to make sure that you accept the feelings of being high whilst meditating. Allow your mind to acknowledge the new experience and be present with the feelings you feel. Perhaps this is a body tingling or a light headedness, don’t overthink it, just accept it.
My Own experiences
I have been practicing meditation for some time now, as I find it the perfect way to end the day, after the mayhem of work and city life takes its toll. I decided one day to experiment with a Cannabis combination for my meditation session and ate a low THC edible, with higher concentrations of CBD. It was mind blowing. My focus was tenfold what it usually is. I found that half an hour of deep meditation flew by and the usual distractions and thoughts that often creep in (what’s for dinner? My foot itches? It’s mum’s birthday in 4 weeks) were silenced. I also felt that it took much less time for any anxieties I had carried with me through the day to drift away. The only issue I had was that, the first time I tried it, I became fixated on noticing how high I was getting and became distracted in my meditation. However, with more time and practice I found that I could perfectly balance the feelings of being nicely high with focussing and now get the best out of my meditations.
I hope I’ve presented enough evidence to make you consider combining Cannabis and meditation. An ancient combination that has helped people focus their minds and spend more time on themselves for many years, dating back to the Tantric monks and early Sadhu practices. Not only is there history, but also the science backs us up. Cannabis and its component oils are exceptionally useful for calming the brain down, reducing anxiety and increasing motivation, all needed to get the best out of meditation. From my own experiences too, I really can’t recommend the experience enough. The feeling of calm is all encompassing and it has truly changed my relationship with my own mind. And breath…. 2… 3.