meditation while high (photo credit: Nathan Guzman / Unsplash)

Meditation and Cannabis: How To Deepen Your Experience

by Dan Ketchum

Regular meditation helps with stress reduction, anxiety control, improved emotional health and self-awareness, lengthened attention span, better sleep, increased empathy and decreased blood pressure, according to a Healthline review of over 40 different scientific studies. Many of these benefits seem to double down on the potential health perks that cannabis offers. So rather than compare one against the other, the more fruitful question is: Why not both?

Cannabis and meditation work so well together because the former can help you enter just the right headspace to maximize the latter — and, in turn, reap those results at their best.

The Science

The brain’s default mode network (or DMN) is “a network of interacting brain regions … active when a person is not focused on the outside world,” according to ScienceDirect. The research-backed benefits of meditation often correspond with decreased DMN activity. While specific studies on cannabis and meditation are still slim, 2019 research published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology promisingly finds that both CBD and THC reduced activity in the DMN across 17 healthy volunteers. 

Essentially, this indicates that cannabis may act as a useful tool to assist users, helping to ease them into a meditative state in which they can achieve that decreased DMN activity. It offers some scientific backing to the practice of meditation while high, which dates as far back as ancient Tibetan Buddhist practitioners using cannabis to facilitate meditation (if not before, with cannabis appearing in Taoism and Hindu practices well before 200 B.C.), per Leafly.

Choosing Your Cannabis

Indica strains are generally thought to produce a “body high.” Compared to sativa’s more stimulating, energy-boosting “mind high,” enthusiasts typically find indica varieties — such as the Max OG, Herijuana and Blueberry Bomb strains in our Houdini pen — more relaxing, or even sedative, with a focus on easing anxious feelings and day-to-day aches. Though effects may vary per person, this generally makes indica a reliable companion when pairing cannabis and meditation.   

But don’t sleep on CBD. Speaking to the Buddhist nonprofit Tricycle, Yoga Haven founder Betsy Kase recommends cannabidiol as a regular part of the holistic self-care routine. She notes that anxiety and pain can be common barriers to meditation practice, and that pairing CBD with meditation may help break those barriers. She notes, “It’s like how in yoga, we have props that we didn’t have 30 years ago. If sitting in meditation without back support causes back pain, should that be the only way everybody should sit? No! Give them a chair or a block. These are all aids to help us do the practice.” 

Experimenting With Methods

Like cannabis, meditation comes in a whole spectrum of varieties. Everyday Health suggests just a few that you might consider pairing with your favorite strain, such as transcendental meditation (which achieves focus by centering around the repetition of a mantra), Vipassana meditation (which focuses on self-observation of the body’s sensations), and yoga meditation (which pairs yogic postures and breathing with in-the-moment mindfulness). 

Some methods also encourage connections with nature, such as grounding, the practice of meditating while your body makes contact with the earth (like a grassy field) to emphasize our physical connection with nature, or forest bathing (shinrin-yoku), the act of absorbing the forest atmosphere through all of one’s senses. 

Accessorizing Appropriately 

Popular Science recommends a soft and supportive meditation cushion to help you meditate comfortably, as well as accessories that can help heighten the sensory experience, such as a singing bowl or electronic tone therapy system. Eye pillows, candles, aromatherapy diffusers, incense, mala beads, mood lighting and Tibetan tingsha cymbals can also enhance your meditation practice.  

As cannabis nurse Jessie Gill tells Vice, “weed isn’t just used to alleviate pain — people love how present it makes them feel.” Ultimately, pairing cannabis and meditation homes in on just that: being present. Which means that your vape pen might just be the most valuable meditation accessory of them all. 

Dan Ketchum is an LA-based freelance lifestyle, fashion, health and food writer with more than a decade of experience. He’s been fortunate enough to collaborate and publish with companies such as FOCL, Vitagenne, Livestrong, Reign Together, Out East Rosé, SFGate, The Seattle Times and more.

References:

Healthline – 12 Science-Based Benefits of Meditation

ScienceDirect – Default Mode Network

Vice – This Is What Happens When You Combine Weed and Meditation

Leafly – A Gift From the Gods: The History of Cannabis and Religion

National Library of Medicine – Journal of Psychopharmacology: Dissociable Effects of Cannabis With and Without Cannabidiol on the Human Brain’s Resting-State Functional Connectivity 

Tricycle – Can CBD Give Your Meditation a Boost?

Everyday Health – A Guide to 7 Different Types of Meditation

Popular Science – Meditation Accessories To Improve Your Mindfulness Practice and, by Extension, Your Life

(Photo: Nathan Guzman / Unsplash)

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