Let’s find out. If you struggle to let go of your thoughts during meditation and are considering marijuana as the answer, this article is for you.
Meditation and cannabis are old friends
Instructors at modern “marijuana meditation” classes are far from the first people to put cannabis and meditation together.
Thousands of years ago in India – 1500 B.C. to be more precise – Hindu religious texts called the Vedas named cannabis a sacred herb. There are some places in the world where marijuana still plays a major role in annual spiritual festivals.
This isn’t some new-age hippy idea. This is a practice with potentially ancient roots.
Why is meditation good for you?
Spiritualists around the world have long recognized the benefits of meditation. But it’s only in the past few decades in the “west” that it has become more and more of an accepted medical healing or coping mechanism.
Effective meditation has been proven to be able to create actual chemical changes in the brain, improving things like cognitive health and even empathy.
“Mindfulness” is the modern terminology that’s often applied to this sort of thing, but this is actually just one type of meditation. Acting mindfully and meditating have been shown to actually be medically as well as mentally beneficial.
If you commonly experience stress or inflammation, or anything related to them – such as high blood pressure or diabetes – there is a good chance that meditation might be good for you too.
How does meditation relax you?
The exact way that meditation relaxes you isn’t completely understood. It appears to relate to there being less activity in what’s called your brain’s “Default Mode Network (DMN) when you meditate.
Your DMN is a network of interacting brain regions that lights up when you’re not focusing on the outside world. If you’re resting, your DMN seems to show less activity.
Though it may look like from the outside that meditation doesn’t involve doing absolutely anything, that’s not quite the case. You’re not, for example, just staring into space. You tend to focus on a mantra or a song or sound. This seems like it might suppress the activity of your DMN, creating a restful experience.
The way this can help you to overcome or ignore anxieties or preoccupations you have during normal life is often compared with the experience offered by some psychedelic substances, like LSD or psilocybin.
Can cannabis facilitate meditation?
There is some small evidence that the same sort of thing might happen with cannabis. But what seems more likely at the time of writing is that meditation and cannabis simply share some of the same end effects.
Bear in mind that things like yoga, exercise, or meditation are naturally beneficial for the body’s own endocannabinoid system. These are the same chemical “locks” and “keys” in your body that include the famous cannabis receptors that enable marijuana to have an effect on us.
For example, the natural endocannabinoid anandamide is thought to be responsible for the “runner’s high” effect that it’s possible to experience when running long distances. Yet that early research shows that marijuana and meditation may be friends able to work hand in hand as well as fellow travellers in the same direction.
Scientifically speaking, it’s simply too early to tell. Anecdotally though, it’s something that many people swear by.
How to choose the best strains for meditation
If you want to try using cannabis for meditation, there are a few guidelines to stick to if you want to maximize the chances that this will be a positive and effective experience for you.
It’s very possible that taking too much cannabis can make it more rather than less difficult to meditate. It’s also possible that psychoactive substances like cannabis can decrease the medical benefits of meditation.
This means it’s a good idea to start out with a smaller dose – around 3 mg is commonly recommended. This is especially true if you don’t use cannabis regularly.
Because different cannabis strains produce different physical and mental effects, it’s also a good idea to choose the particular strain you’re going to use when combining cannabis and meditation with care:
1) The best cannabis for mindfulness meditation
Mindfulness involves observing your thoughts and allowing them to occur without reacting to them, focusing on your breath to do so.
This means it can be helpful to be physically relaxed but very clear mentally. For cannabis mindful meditation, this can mean a hybrid strain that is perhaps a little weighted towards the indica is a good choice.
2) The best strains for transcendental meditation
The key to transcendental meditation is focusing on a mantra – a short phrase of words – or a sound to achieve a restful, relaxing state without effort.
The priority here is probably physical relaxation. This means something like Gorilla Glue might be a strong contender when using cannabis for meditation of this kind.
3) The best strains for guided meditation
Achieved with the help of a guide who talks you through a series of situations to visualize, guided meditation is another popular form of the practice.
Of course, finding a guide who you trust and works for you is key to making it effective. A good strain pairing is also key if you’re bringing cannabis into the mix – something that gives you a good head high, facilitating some good quality imagination is likely to be a good call.
Meditation with cannabis – is it worth a try?
If you’re considering combining cannabis and meditation, the major takeaway should be that there is a chance that it can be helpful. Also, that you definitely want to start with a small quantity of a carefully chosen marijuana strain.
If in doubt, a strain with a high CBD content and lower THC content might be a good call. But once you’ve made your decision, it’s time to relax and bring some calm, reflective introspection into your life.