Cannabis and Meditation: Elevate Your Practice

Cannabis and Meditation: Elevate Your Practice

Cannabis and Meditation Can being high elevate your practice?

When you hear the words, “Take a deep breath in and relax,” what do you think of?

Maybe you are reminded of a yoga class, or perhaps you think about the time you downloaded that mindfulness app. If you’re anything like us though, you’re thinking about taking a nice puff from your bong. 

Jokes aside, cannabis and meditation (besides sharing a few colloquialisms) are a pair that just makes sense. Both have been used in spiritual practices since the beginning of civilization, and surprisingly, they share many of the same benefits. On their own, the two can help reduce stress, increase mental clarity, and help find a deeper sense of appreciation – but together are those effects amplified? Can cannabis help with meditation? 

Why meditation works

In pop culture, meditation is depicted as sitting cross-legged (sukhasana, if you’re a yogi) with arms resting on the knees, index finger and thumb pressed together, and eyes closed. But meditation isn’t about how you are sitting, it’s about your state of mind. Meditation focuses on training awareness with a goal of mental and emotional clarity, and it’s a practice that we’ve been using for millenniums. According to the Vedas, which were written about 3,000 years ago in India, they believed that meditation brought divine understanding and enlightenment. The Ancient Greeks used meditation as a tool to “know thyself,” believing frequent practice would build stronger societies. And in ancient Japanese culture, meditation was used to reach “zen.”  

But why is it that meditation is praised as the be-all, end-all to mindfulness?

To start, meditation is a powerful practice that reduces mind-wandering. Especially in today’s society, there are very few moments where we are not stimulated by something, whether it’s our phone, computers, television, etc. When we stop with all the stimuli and focus on clearing our mind, the effects are significant. Studies show that meditation can improve problem-solving, with results from mindfulness training lasting over 5 years. 

Additionally, meditation reduces activity in the “default network” of our brains, the part that ruminates on thoughts, feelings, and experiences when we are not busy with focused activity. Scientists believe that reduced activity in the “default network” can decrease feelings of anxiety and depression as we’re less prone to contemplate on ourselves and our place in the world. Similarly, while these emotions are dampened, meditation simultaneously activates circuits in the brain that connect to good feelings and love. So while bad feelings flow out, good feelings flow in. These effects are best seen in studies that show meditation lessens our inflammatory response in people exposed to psychological stressors. 

How cannabis can help with meditation

Knowing the benefits of meditation, it makes sense how cannabis could be used alongside it. On their own, cannabis and meditation help us in similar ways. For instance, the same way meditation relieves stress and anxiety, cannabis is proven to do the same. Similarly, cannabis enhances our focus, making us more akin to the present moment. This is one of the reasons why music sounds better when you’re high

But along with its mental benefits, cannabis, like meditation, is used as a vehicle for spiritual practices. Cannabis is an entheogen, meaning it has mild psychoactive properties that help us see “the God within.” In other words, entheogens can calm nerves and stir feelings of awe, appreciation, and unity. For these reasons, spiritual seekers from across the globe have used cannabis for its ability to bring us closer to the divine. 

In many ways, meditation and cannabis serve the same purpose. If we reflect on ancient texts, the relationship between the two becomes more apparent. The Vedas, for instance, classify cannabis as a sacred plant that is a “bringer of freedom” and “source of happiness.” The Ancient Greeks were also believed to have used marijuana for medical, recreational, and religious purposes. 

Despite parallel histories, scientific studies on cannabis and meditation are scarce. Unfortunately, there is no definitive evidence that cannabis can help with meditative practices. However, there is a plethora of anecdotal evidence that shows the two have coexisted alongside each other for thousands of years. From ancient civilizations to the flower power of the 70s, and now the wave of new age spirituality, it’s clear that mindfulness, meditation, and mild-altering plants like cannabis live synonymously. 

At the end of the day, soul-searching and mindfulness are all personal journeys. It is solely up to you to decide whether using cannabis is beneficial to your meditative practice. Some may find that the mood-enhancing properties of cannabis make it easier to ease their mind, while others may prefer to have sober insights. Ultimately, the choice is yours. 

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