One of the greatest things about marijuana is the degree to which it calms your mind. There’s a strong reason anxiety sufferers have been some of the most enthusiastic adopters of both medical weed and, before that, illegal weed: Cannabis has a very distinct biological ability to help you deal with stressful situations. Many people begin experimenting with marijuana use during adolescence, a particularly stressful time for most of us. And while pot users are still generally characterized as goldbricking layabouts because of the drug’s calming effect, those of us who have effectively integrated pot into our overall approach to wellness know the truth: As part of a larger plan to address anxieties or overwhelming emotions, pot can be an incredibly impactful tool.
That’s why it can be fairly popular among those of us who practice regular meditation as a way of de-stressing and/or preparing to face the day. Anxiety sufferers know best: The panic can set in as early as the moment you wake up, and making it go away is one of the hardest things in the world to do. For some, that means setting up a strategic wake-and-bake. For others, it means starting the day with a simple meditation session, or checking in with yourself, or engaging in some other calming activity. For many, it means combining weed and meditation.
First off, though, we’ll say this: Your approach to combining these two things – or choosing not to do so – is entirely your own. A quick web search will reveal that some cannabis users have been successful at combining their mindfulness practices with weed use, whereas for others the process hasn’t worked. Still more are in the middle of figuring it out. But fusing the two is not one-size-fits all. It’s not a “the jury is still out on whether this works” situation; it’s more of a “do what you like” situation.
It’s also important to note that while weed can definitely be a real assist to your meditative practices, it can also potentially defeat the purpose. When you meditate, your aim is to center yourself and be able to maintain better overall self-awareness and (to some extent) control your emotions. But for many users, weed actually makes it easier to achieve this state – meaning that for some folks, it kind of defeats the purpose of meditating at all. That doesn’t mean mediation and cannabis are at odds; just that they need to be used in tandem with a deliberate plan in mind.
So here’s one possible way to use weed to augment your meditation:
Meditate first. If you’re not a seasoned meditation practitioner, you’ll need to first practice a bit while clear-headed in order to get the hang of the basics. Meditation is one of those “a moment to learn, a lifetime to master” skills that can be fairly easily picked up, so give yourself a week or so of practicing meditation without using pot. That way you’ll be able to get the hang of the process of centering yourself, know what your mental blocks are, and be aware of what kinds of best practices work for you. After that, you can slowly introduce weed into your meditation repertoire.
Choose the right type of meditation, but don’t be too strict with yourself. There are plenty of commonalities among types of meditation, but different practitioners will want to use different approaches, so do some research to find out what’s most appealing to you. Progressive relaxation, gazing meditation, transcendental meditation… there are a lot of options out there. Don’t get too bogged down in finding the right type, though. The best meditation is that which is actually performed.
A subtle high is better. Obviously you don’t want your high to overwhelm you – so, like, put away the dab rig for now. And remember that meditation and its results are the goal here; the goal is not to get so high you can’t remember what you were doing. Swamis who recommend combining weed with meditation recommend starting with just a puff or two before starting. And speaking of which…
Smoking is probably better than edibles for this situation. Edibles can be easily dosed, but they’re still unpredictable. You can’t be sure when they’ll hit, you can’t be sure how hard they’ll hit, and the experience of administering the cannabis and beginning the meditation process are far enough apart that it’s easy to get distracted. Smoking or vaping weed has a much more immediate effect and, when measured by the toke, is actually somewhat more dosable than edibles.
Find the right strain. You really do need a good hybrid strain in a situation like this. Go too far in the Indica direction and you risk blowing off the whole thing and napping on the sofa. To far in the Sativa direction and you might lose yourself in your own head. Finding the perfect strain to use for meditation is going to take a long time, so start out with the most reliable and balanced hybrid you have, and try to refine the process from there.
Think of cannabis as an assist, not the goal. It can be challenging for some people to meditate. If you suffer from extreme anxiety or chronic pain, even starting the process of mindfulness can be replete with distraction. The right strains of cannabis can offer anti-inflammatory qualities and a strong body high, which can in turn quell your pain or jangling nerves enough to put you on the road to inner peace.
Lay off the outside stimuli. Unless you’re doing guided meditation, try engaging in your pot/mindfulness journey without any music or heavy visuals. Sometimes it’s fun to get high and space out while watching a fractal video on YouTube and playing some Brian Eno and Aphex Twin, but that ain’t meditation. If you go into the process with no outside distractions, you’ll be able to truly let your mind turn inward.