Marijuana and meditation. The perfect combination?
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The short-term goal of meditation is to enter a stillness of the mind and to detach from the cyclic nature of thoughts. The high produced from smoking cannabis may serve as an effective tool to reach this place.
Meditation and cannabis have both been part of human culture for thousands of years. In some cases, the two have even been used in conjunction in order to reach higher states of consciousness and enlightenment, as is the case with the Sadhus of Hinduism.
Both meditation and cannabis seem to present advantages when it comes to reaching a peaceful and present state of mind, so it makes sense that using them together may work effectively.
WHY DO PEOPLE MEDITATE?
There is a boatload of reasons why people should meditate. Science has delved into the study of meditation and a multitude of benefits have been discovered, from the psychological to the physiological to the emotional.
Most people would agree that one of the main conditions people thrive for in life is to experience happiness. Happiness is a state characterized by joy, satisfaction, and delight. What’s not to like about that?
Everybody probably has their own exact definition of happiness and their own pathway of attaining it, but rates of cognitive conditions such as depression, anxiety, and stress are skyrocketing in modern western society. Something is out of balance and a lot of people aren’t experiencing happiness often enough, if at all.
It just so happens that the simple act of meditation may act as a buffer against these conditions and it may help us to become more emotionally resilient and strong. It may even help us to become happier.
MEDITATION AS A BUFFER AGAINST DEPRESSION
A scientific paper published in the journal Cognitive Therapy and Research examined the effects of mindfulness meditation for depression. The researchers who conducted the study analyzed the effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction on a group of individuals who had lifetime mood disorders.
It was found that mindfulness meditation led to decreases in ruminative thinking, a cognitive attribute associated with depressive disorders.
MEDITATION EASES ANXIETY
Evidence also suggests the effectiveness of meditation at treating anxiety, a condition associated with tension, panic, and fear. A scientific paper published in the journal General Hospital Psychiatry discusses a study that showed statistical improvements in both subjective and objective symptoms of anxiety and panic in subjects after participating in an 8-week stress reduction intervention that was based on mindfulness meditation.
The authors of the paper state that, “We conclude that an intensive but time-limited group stress reduction intervention based on mindfulness meditation can have long-term beneficial effects in the treatment of people diagnosed with anxiety disorders”.
MEDITATION PROTECTS AGAINST STRESS
Stress is not a rarity in modern times. People are subject to many events in a single day that can trigger our internal stress response. Stress doesn’t just cause an undesirable emotional state, its effects may accumulate over time and lead to serious health problems.
In fact, stress is linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Meditation may serve as an easy and simple means of preventing and treating stress.
A scientific paper published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine looked at the effect of mindfulness meditation upon stress. The study featured a group of cancer outpatients.
The researchers concluded that “This program was effective in decreasing mood disturbance and stress symptoms in both male and female patients with a wide variety of cancer diagnoses, stages of illness, and ages.”
These promising results show the possibility of meditation being used as a means to decrease exposure to stress.
MEDITATION MAY EVEN BOOST THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
Apart from mental state, meditation might even be able to boost our immune systems and protect us from certain illnesses. A paper published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine documents a study that looked at the effects of mindfulness meditation on the brain and immune system. Subjects underwent an 8-week clinical training program in mindfulness meditation.
The researches concluded that “These findings demonstrate that a short program in mindfulness meditation produces demonstrable effects on brain and immune function. These findings suggest that meditation may change brain and immune function in positive ways and underscore the need for additional research.”
MEDITATION PLUNGES YOU INTO THE PRESENT
Away from the hard science, meditation is also reported to have some profound subjective effects revolving around the present moment. During meditation people often reach a state where they experience a relaxation response.
The waters of the mind turn still and every sound and sensation seems massively emphasized. The mind steps off of the constant treadmill of random thoughts and disengages from the stress of life. Regardless of the long term benefits of meditation, it is easy to see why the practice has been revered as sacred for such a long period of time.
It is also interesting to note how similar this cognitive state is to being high. No wonder meditation and cannabis seem to augment each other in various ways. Let’s take a look into how exactly cannabis may enhance the meditative experience.
HOW CANNABIS CAN AUGMENT AND ENHANCE MEDITATION
There are many forms of meditation. Some types are closely associated with religious practice and others operate from secular and even scientific roots. Mindfulness meditation originates from ancient eastern traditions, yet is widely practiced as a secular means of being closer to the present moment and bringing stillness to the mind.
Cannabis is also known to achieve a similar state of mind. The herb is even stereotypically associated with the chilled surfer dude archetype. We live in an extremely fast paced society bustling with stimulus, stressful events, and people and projects that constantly strive to gain our attention.
It’s easy to see why many people don’t meditate, and why those who do might have a hard time unplugging from the chaos and reaching an internal state of stillness and tranquility.
For this reason, the calming, euphoric, and relaxing sensations catalyzed by smoking weed may be the perfect platform to conduct meditation from. Cannabis users often describe the psychoactive high as plunging them into the present moment and dissolving their worries about the past and anxieties concerning the future.
The most direct way that cannabis can enhance meditation is via the short term high that the herb produces. The stillness and emphasis on the present that is associated with a cannabis high is somewhat of a stepping stone into a profound and effective meditative experience.
But it’s not just this short term sensation that makes this pair so powerful, they also seem to have similar long term benefits that work well together, especially when it comes to brainpower.
Scientists at the University of Bonn and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel conducted a *study that displays cannabis may reverse the aging process in the brain.
The study was performed using mice models and showed that older mice were able to regress to the state of two-month-old mice with a frequent yet low dose of cannabis. Researchers believe this may point to possible treatment for dementia.
Additionally, meditation has also been shown to enhance regions of the brain over time. The practice has been shown to benefit cognitive functions and alter brain activity. A study published in the journal NeuroImage showed meditators to have significantly larger volumes of gray matter in the right orbitofrontal cortex and the right hippocampus.
These regions are involved in emotional regulation and response control. Larger volumes in these areas may be related to positive emotions, emotional stability, and mindfulness behaviour in meditators.
Although these studies are somewhat unrelated, they do demonstrate possible synergy between meditation and cannabis. As well as the two working well together in the short term to generate a blissful state, they may benefit the brain together in the long term.
HOW TO USE MEDITATION AND CANNABIS TOGETHER
So, we have seen the vast benefits that a meditation practice can bring. We have also discussed the benefits of adding cannabis to the mix to boost the effectiveness of meditation and the ease of entering a meditative state. But how to use them together?
There are many ways to meditate with cannabis, just like there are so many ways to smoke cannabis. People will most likely find out their own individual methods and preferences over time.
The act of meditation in itself is quite simple. Be still and still the mind. The typical position to take is sitting cross-legged on a pillow. Some people, however, prefer to lay down or sit in a chair. Others prefer to be actively walking outside and find that this helps their mind reach stillness and achieve a meditative state. For a frame of reference, we’ll look at seated meditation.
Seated meditation involves sitting still and upright, whilst allowing the mind to settle. People often use points to anchor their attention to. Some may choose to look at a candle flame, while others close their eyes and focus on the ebb and flow of their breath.
Start off in small intervals, perhaps just 5 or 10 minutes. It is quite shocking how fast and easily the attention drifts from the present and into a wild random flurry of internal thoughts. Don’t let this demotivate you and instead realize that returning your attention to your immediate environment is training your mind to disengage with these thoughts.
Smoking cannabis is more than likely going to assist you in breaking free from patterns of thought. Smoking a blunt, joint, or bowl before or during a meditation can certainly bring you into a different headspace and calmness.
WHAT STRAIN TO USE?
There are thousands of strains available to users now with different cannabinoid and terpene profiles that ultimately result in different psychoactive effects.
Indica strains are associated with a body high and sensations of relaxation and calmness. Sativa strains, on the other hand, are associated with a head high and a buzz. It’s up to the individual which type they would prefer, but an indica strain is more likely going to help to still the mind.
For those who find themselves getting too high and uncomfortable, could try a strain with a higher percentage of CBD and less THC. These strains will get you less high, as THC is the psychoactive part of cannabis.