Just because something is popular or trendy now, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a long history, even stretching back to ancient times. This is definitely true for meditation, which is depicted in wall art in the Indus Valley dating back to around 7,000 years before anyone in America first put together the words “meditation studio” or “gravity bong.”
And the same goes for weed, which appears to be getting more mainstream by the day, roughly 2,500 years after cannabis was used in ritual ceremonies in western China.
But what happens when you combine these two timeless forms of therapy and medicine? And can weed and meditation amplify the positive effects of one another?
What happens when you combine cannabis and meditation
There actually is a long history of combining cannabis with meditation. In the Indian subcontinent, some Hindu sects use cannabis to aid meditation, while some tantric buddhists in the Himalayas use weed to help enhance their meditation and religious ceremonies.
Some research has suggested that meditation can help with all types of health conditions including pain, anxiety and depression, insomnia, and even irritable bowel syndrome. Cannabis can also help alleviate the symptoms of these conditions, though that’s certainly not universal and depends on the individual.
Regardless, many people find that cannabis can help them with meditation, largely by helping them get past those hurdles that can keep them from getting in the right state of mind.
This is especially true when it comes to mindfulness - a type of meditation that involves training yourself to be in the present moment, making it easier to deal with the anxieties, fears, and insecurities that can make it so hard to get some peace and quiet.
Cannabis can work wonders when it comes to relaxation, and you probably don’t need to see any peer-reviewed articles to know that’s the case. Just like it can put a smile on your face at the end of a stressful workday, it can also help you reach a sense of contentment regardless of what else has been on your mind lately. This feeling is temporary, but it can last more than long enough for a meditation session.
Does this mean that weed is a guaranteed meditation enhancer? Not quite. The effects of cannabis can vary widely from one individual to the next, and the same dose that relaxes one person and helps them receive a fleeting feeling of nirvana during a 30-minute meditation session, could produce a wildly different sensation in someone else.
Mixing weed and meditation is a highly-personalized experience, but here are some things you can expect if you’re meditating while high.
How weed can help meditation
Cannabis can be great at providing some relaxation. It can create a sensation that can make you want to sink deeper into your couch cushions (or meditation mat) as you put the whole world on mute, and wrap yourself fully in the moment. This can be great for mindfulness, as it can make it easier to achieve the sort of inner tranquility that brings you deeply and fully into the here and now.
Beyond that warm and cozy body high, cannabis can also at times flip a switch in your head that can make whatever you were stressed or heated about 5 minutes ago a distant memory, or at least something that you can laugh at for the time being. This ability to shift your mindset from anxiety to comedy can definitely come in handy when you need to find some way to turn out the background noise, the regrets and the ever-closer deadlines.
It can be tougher to relax and meditate when you’re dealing with pain, nausea, or inflamed joints. Or if you’ve got a migraine that’s been putting you through hell all morning. Cannabis is a trusted medicine for dealing with many health conditions and symptoms such as nausea, chronic pain, and inflammation, all of which can get in the way when you’re trying to meditate.
How weed can hinder meditation
Just as weed helps countless people relax and clear their minds, it can also do the exact opposite. Being high can cause or worsen anxiety, and it can also spark feelings of paranoia, which is one of the most steadfast (and well-founded) stereotypes of cannabis use. Certainly this isn’t universal and it doesn’t happen every time anyone gets high, but depending on your state of mind, your mental health, and the potency and makeup of the cannabis products you use, getting high before meditation could potentially put you in a state of mind where your mind is racing way too fast to focus at all on the present - and certainly not to relax.
How are you supposed to focus on your breathing and the silent tranquility of your surroundings, when you absolutely must figure out the answer to the question - if sharks have to keep swimming in order to breathe, then how do they sleep? And do sharks dream?
Best Practices for Combining Weed and Meditation
For the best results, make sure to use a weed strain or product you know and trust before combining cannabis and meditation. Think of a strain of cannabis flower that you know produces a relaxing, sedative effect for you when you get high, and use just the right amount beforehand.
Avoid strains that you know are more upbeat, and better suited for days when you’re looking to spark your creativity, run errands, or hike across a festival with friends. Such strains can produce the opposite effect from the one you’re looking for, and can also potentially cause anxiety or paranoia.
While this depends on your tolerance, you probably shouldn’t overdo it when mixing cannabis with meditation. The point is to use weed as a meditation supplement, to augment the benefits of meditation and help get you in the physical and mental state necessary to achieve the best results. The point is not for you to get extremely stoned while you try to meditate.
If you're too high, you may find that your mind wanders way too far for you to be able to be mindful, and that basically you’re now just very high and sitting on a yoga mat in a room with ambient music. Which actually doesn’t sound that bad, but you probably shouldn't expect to get a lot of meditation done.
The right “set and setting” can be crucial to any cannabis experience (and a variety of other substances), and the same goes for meditation. Make sure to arrange your setting with relaxation and meditation in mind, such as through the use of ambient sound or music. We all know that weed can make music a whole lot better, and with meditation, it can help you focus on the sounds right there in your immediate environment, allowing every other distraction to melt away.
When it comes to how you arrange yourself, make sure to put on comfortable clothes, and remove anything that may distract you from the experience, including your phone, your wallet, basically whatever might be able to take you out of the moment.
Last but not least, approach the experience with happiness and positivity. Just as this approach makes cannabis a more enjoyable experience, it can also help make combining weed and meditation a match made in yoga mat heaven.