This Is What Happens When You Combine Weed and Meditation
I’m a cannabis nurse—a registered nurse who specializes in medical marijuana—and I serve as a patient educator at MarjuanaMommy.com. This makes me intimately familiar with the medical benefits of weed. I also meditate daily. And while I do use cannabis all day every day, I microdose, so I’m not usually high when I meditate. Still, I’m not afraid to partake a little more heavily if, for example, my pain levels (from a cervical spine injury I got years ago) are elevated. As we know, though, weed isn’t just used to alleviate pain—people love how present it makes them feel.
Science’s growing support of meditation as a coping/healing mechanism gives me the feeling that marijuana and mindfulness might just be a natural combination. Research has shown long-term meditators exhibit “changes in the brain, and positive effects on empathy, meta-cognitive skills and health.” Exactly how meditation produces these effects is not completely understood, but these benefits correlate with decreased activity in the brain’s default mode network (DMN). Decreased activity in the DMN is suspected to signify a mind more at rest. While there isn’t any substantial research on weed relaxing your mind, there’s a strong belief that CBD—one of its two main components—can have a calming effect.
So my natural next step was to see if an increased dose of weed might also deepen my meditation.
Unfortunately, I live in New Jersey where prohibition still reigns and there are no ganja yoga classes (yet). So I decided to simply head to my next meditation class amply medicated. About an hour before class, I scarfed down a wickedly potent kief cookie, attempting to time the peak of my high with the beginning of a tibetan singing bowl sound bath meditation. Stacey Mulvey, ganja yogi and founder of Marijuasana (a Las Vegas-based community of weed-positive yogis) tells me, “As cannabis users, we do enlightenment almost a little bit backwards in a way. Instead of getting there through years and years of dedicated practice of strict meditation, we’re kind of amping it up and [getting a] glimpse of that other side first…Then [we] learn how to ground that, and balance it, and center it, so we have a better understanding.”
High meditation may have a new-age vibe, but this practice actually has ancient roots. The Vedas—historical texts written in India around 1500 BC—name cannabis as one of the five sacred plants. Additionally, many legends describe Lord Shiva, a Hindu deity, as a passionate cannabis lover. Modern-day Nepal still holds a yearly spiritual festival with marijuana serving as a central feature of the holy celebration.
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Being able to access calm when you need it can be physically beneficial. “Mindfulness can be helpful for a variety of physical health issues, generally speaking, stress-related conditions such as high blood pressure,” says Diana Winston, director of mindfulness education at UCLA Semel Institute’s Mindful Awareness Research Center. “Conditions that relate to inflammation can be positively affected such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, etc, and it’s also has been shown to boost the immune system and promote the healing response.” Cannabis has also been associated in very small initial studies with a decrease in blood pressure and an improvement in conditions related to inflammation. It’s reported to help as a muscle relaxant, with chronic pain and gastrointestinal issues.
On the other hand, THC can spur anxiety. This is exactly what happened when I walked into the studio and saw class more crowded than expected. Sweat dripped down the back of my neck as I began to wonder if I was the only attendant who was high. Were my eyes red? My tongue felt like the Sahara (tip: bring water). Surely the other meditators could tell? But no one seemed to notice or care. Then I remembered I was conducting important research: Getting high and meditating was my job for the day. After I got a water bottle, I relaxed and reconsidered bliss.
That night, I didn’t just hear those crystal bowls, my full body experienced them.
Mulvey thinks that when we meditate, do yoga, or exercise in general, we’re naturally supplementing our endocannabinoid system (a bunch of receptors in your brain and body that affect how you feel and behave). And this balancing can purportedly result in a feeling of bliss. Research supports this: A 2015 study suggests the euphoria of “runner’s high” is actually caused by the natural endocannabinoid, anandamide, as opposed to endorphins as previously accepted.
The strain you choose when you meditate steers your experience. Keep in mind that CBD is relaxing, but not intoxicating; the THC in weed is the part that gets you high—and for some, this is ideal. Others are more prepared to add THC: My kief cookie was filled with a high-THC blend of Nigerian Haze, which is marketed for for creative insight, and Death Star, for full-body relaxation. Whichever strain you choose, use cannabis responsibly and in moderation. You don’t want to be so inebriated that feet look funny. You also don’t want to wreck anyone’s bliss with a pre-Savasana panic attack. Cannabis newbies should always start small and work their way up to higher does gradually.
What I Learned from Teaching High Yoga
The Nigerian Haze heightened my senses, as it does for many others. With the lights dimmed, we began by sitting upright on our mats. The instructor coached us through a series of deep breathing, reminding us to fill our lungs and exhale fully. She encouraged us to let go and allow the tension to melt out of our muscles.
Soon we relaxed on our mats, and our guide circled the room anointing the forehead of each participant with a blend of aromatherapy essential oils. She reassured us that falling asleep was common and appropriate, and while I did hear soft snores scattered throughout the room, I didn’t drift off.
With everyone at ease, our meditation leader began playing the Tibetan bowls. Sprawled on my yoga mat, the sound waves seemed to dance across my skin. The sound of singing bowls is hard to describe, I wouldn’t call it “pretty” in a classical sense, but the vibrations are storied to have healing properties and enhance the meditative state. Maybe it was the weed heightening my imagination or perhaps it’s the mystical quality that science still hasn’t explained, but I felt something different during that meditation. Around the area where a metal plate now holds together my spine, I felt a sense of longing. I can only describe it like a massage where the masseuse is hitting the right spot but you’re desperate for the pressure to be deeper.
At the end of the session, the leader gently roused us, instructing us to wiggle our fingers and toes. She refreshed us with a drink of water which had been stored in the bowls while they were being played. While I packed up my mat, I reflected. The vibrations of the bowls had penetrated my psyche, combining with my high. And while I wouldn’t yet be able to identify all the benefits of two lauded practices—smoking weed and meditating—my marrying of the two for under an hour intensified my conviction for both.
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Lifted, in every sense of the word.
Combining Weed with Meditation (The 2020 Guide)
According to many health practitioners, frequent meditation reduces stress and improves overall health. It is a practice that humankind has engaged in for millennia. There are wall arts in the Indian subcontinent that depict meditation dating back to 5,000 BC.
The sacred texts of Hinduism, the Vedas, provide the first written evidence, which dates back to 1,500 BC. The Upanishad Hindu texts describe meditation as a means of acquiring knowledge and oneness of the Absolute while removing ignorance. By the fifth century BC, Buddhist India and Taoist China had become home to other forms of meditation.
It seems as if there is also a lengthy relationship between the use of cannabis and meditation. On their own, both marijuana and meditation have similar effects. Combining them, however, amplifies both.
This is evident in South Asia already. Several religious sects, including Shaivites, Naths, and Buddhists, have introduced marijuana into their meditation rituals. They believe the combination brings heightened awareness. Weed slows the mind and helps it enter the correct state of “profound stillness.” They are right: It certainly has profound benefits, and it is not difficult to do.
Marijuana and Meditation Work Well Together
The effects of marijuana are incredibly grounding, and it provides an avenue for increasing consciousness. The duality of mind elevation and complete body relaxation is an ideal combination for effective meditation. In practice, most people are unable to quiet the mind sufficiently or relax the body enough during meditation.
Under correct administration and proper dosages, the right marijuana cultivar can slow people down, calm the body, and quiet a frantic mind. This is the best state for meditation. Reaching it guarantees a meditative and transformative experience. Because people are different, you will need to experiment with different cultivars to find the ones that work best for you.
Let’s dig into the history of …
Best Marijuana Strains for Meditation
The meditative experience you want will rely heavily on the strain you choose. Everyone has a personal preference, and finding yours will involve some experimenting and trial and error.
The suggestion is that sativa strains and sativa-dominant hybrids have more energizing, focusing, and motivating effects. This makes them ideal for daytime use. Therefore, you may think it is better to steer clear of sativas for meditation.
Indicas, on the other hand, are supposedly more relaxing and sedating. Many assume this means they are the ‘ideal’ option for meditation. But is this really the case?
In reality, there is no guarantee than an indica-dominant hybrid will cause sedation, and a sativa-dominant strain will invigorate you. It seems likely that it is the full plant profile, including terpenes and other cannabinoids, which dictate a strain’s effects. As THC and CBD are the most abundant cannabinoids, most research focuses on them. However, there is a growing body of evidence that indicates terpene content matters.
Cannabis affects everyone differently, so try a strain to see what happens. If it makes you feel more energized, perhaps you should try another to find one that is more relaxing.
Marijuana Enhances Process of Meditation
Cannabis interacts with each individual’s endocannabinoid system uniquely. As a result, there are many ways that it can enhance the meditative process. For some, marijuana simply relaxes the muscles and molds the body into the nearest sofa. For others, it quiets an overactive mind. There are people for whom marijuana brings situational perspective into personal life experiences.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, heightened sensory and time perception are just some of the effects of cannabis. Marijuana can enable people to relax, gain insight, and go deeper spiritually than ever before. All of these effects are desired and powerful outcomes in a meditative session. Combining the two amplifies relaxation, spiritual enlightenment, and insightful perspective.
Consumption of Marijuana for Meditating
There are many ways to ingest weed. All of them will work, but vaping it or smoking it with a few blended herbs is arguably best for meditation. Edibles can take up to two hours for effects to kick in, and few are patient enough to wait that long. Vaping enables users to microdose and find their desired state of consciousness with more precision. This process is especially useful for novices or those with lower tolerance levels.
For experienced consumers, however, smoking flower is potentially preferable. It offers the fastest method of delivery, with the quickest onset of effects. Bud smokers can “get in the zone” much quicker. Combining marijuana with a few medical herbs can bring balance to the whole experience and offer some lung protection.
Marijuana-Compatible Herbs for Enhancing Meditation
Many herbs are compatible with cannabis and help to elevate your meditative experience. Those who enjoy a rich smoke should try mullein, which is an excellent herb for lung protection. Passionflower is another herb to try, as it quells headaches, restlessness, insomnia, anxiety, muscle aches, and more. You could also include a peppermint blend to add flavor and make use of its decongestant properties.
Benefits and how to use …
Advantages of Guided Meditation
Guided meditation can help to quiet the mind. In these days of entitlement culture, we are accustomed to continual stimulation wherever we go. This is possibly the reason why our ancestors had longer attention spans than we do today. Providing someone with a narrative to focus on makes it easier for them to achieve a more impactful meditative experience.
Without a guided narrative, most people spend a large portion of their meditation time trying to quiet the mind and stop its chattering. This overshadows a relaxing experience with feelings of pervasive frustration. Using the cannabis plant to help guide your meditative session can help you overcome an overactive mind quicker.
Home Tips for Novice Meditators
If you need guidance for your meditative efforts, find a meditation background that resonates with you in an online recording or CD. You have thousands to choose from, including forest, rain, river, and even animal sounds. Vape or smoke your favorite cannabis strain, get comfortable and begin your recording. Those who do not require guided meditation can start with conscious breathing techniques.
Experts find that binary sounds help to focus the mind and relax the body during meditation. Examples include instrumental music, crystal bowl recordings, and even Tuvan throat singing. If the sound relaxes you, it should work, regardless of what noise it is. You can also make your own recordings if you so desire. For instance, record the birds in your garden each morning or the sound of your Zen waterfall.
Meditating the Right Way
It is crucial to focus on your breathing, particularly for novices. Focused breathing will help you disengage an overactive mind and relax it. To avoid distractions, make mental notes of your inhales and exhales. As you breathe in and out, repeat the words “inhale” and “exhale” as they occur.
If overcoming mental distraction proves too challenging, then practicing mind refocusing will help you get it right.
Acknowledge thoughts as they come and go. Allow them to be fleeting. Continue focusing on your breathing for several minutes, or for however long you feel is comfortable. Ideally, people should meditate daily with a specific goal in mind. Perhaps you want to feel grounded, calmer, mentally razor-sharp, or resilient. The more you do it, the easier it becomes, and the more you benefit from it.
Final Thoughts About Cannabis and Meditation
Ancient civilizations used marijuana, ancient religions too. People used it for yoga and meditation purposes for centuries. Weed still plays an integral part in tantric Buddhism today, particularly in deep meditative rituals for heightened spiritual awareness. Rastafarians are another example. They use both meditation and marijuana for worship, and always together.
According to philosophies of the Rastafari, “The herb is key to a new understanding of the self, universe, and God. It is the vehicle to cosmic consciousness.” More people use meditation for health, enlightenment, and spiritual awakening. There is no denying the benefits of marijuana for meditation. Everywhere, people should take a few deep breaths, light a joint, and relax in meditative silence.
Can you use cannabis for meditation? According to many health practitioners, this may reduce stress and improve overall health.