Mindfulness therapy can benefit cannabis consumers, whether it be yoga, meditation, or simply walking.
Our thoughts direct and drive our day-to-day experiences much more than many of us realize. Mindfulness therapy helps us tune into these underlying drivers, and when combined with cannabis, the practice can become even more powerful and therapeutic.
Mindfulness practices stem from eastern customs that date back millennia. Upon its arrival to the west in the 1970s, it was a radical, even cultish tradition. But, in the fast-paced nature of 21st-century life, mindfulness has become an essential salvation from the hectic nature of our collective existence.
Whether in the office, the sports field, or in managing family life at home, a mindfulness practice is needed now more than ever.
What is Mindfulness Therapy?
Mindfulness is the awareness that arises when we pay close attention to the present moment. It involves a degree of openness and non-judgemental awareness of the present experience.
Mindfulness therapy isn’t so much concerned with relaxation; instead, it revolves around a focus on increasing awareness of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that impede wellbeing. With regular practice, it’s possible to become more aware of shortcomings, to tweak ingrained behaviors, and put a stop to negative thought patterns.
And in what is good news for cannabis consumers, such practices are often enhanced with the intentioned use of cannabis.
Make a Deal With a Plant: Why Intention Matters
When using cannabis for any form of spiritual practice, intention is of primary importance. Just as with any other plant medicine, those that use cannabis as a spiritual ally maintain an almost sacred relationship with the plant.
By taking a few moments to set an intention and evaluate the appropriateness of medicating, it helps ensure continued mindful use. It’s a powerful habit that’s well worth building. While cannabis is a powerful healing ally, it can just as easily become a crutch to numb out when used without intention.
Mindfulness Therapy Techniques With Cannabis
Cannabis can really enhance any form of mindfulness practice. With its ability to help still the mind, increase awareness, sensual perception, and amplify any underlying emotional state, it can be a potent ally in the quest for inner stillness. Here are some mindfulness techniques that cannabis can help enhance.
Controlled Abdominal Breathing
Controlled breathing is a powerful way to release stress or anxiety. Due to busy modern lifestyles, many tend to practice shallow breathing into the upper chest. By breathing more deeply into the abdomen and feeling into the experience, we send a message to the nervous system that aids in promoting parasympathetic activity — the rest and digest branch of the nervous system.
To reinforce the activity, many find it useful to place a hand on their stomach and feel the deep inhalation. Practicing such breathing techniques with cannabis can allow for a deepening of the experience. It tends to open the patient up to a world of deeper feeling within. Controlled breathing is useful in feeling into where we’re holding onto tension within the body, especially in critical areas like the back of the neck, shoulders, abdomen, and chest. With the enhanced inner awareness that cannabis provides, it becomes much easier to breathe into the tightness and allow it to dissipate back into a state of equilibrium.
Cleansing Through Visualization
Cleansing the body through visualization is a particularly powerful technique under the influence of cannabis. After settling into a meditation routine, and with a quiet mind, use your hands to clean your body from top to bottom. The technique involves imagining a cleansing white energy emanating from your hands and slowly clearing the blockages beginning at the head and working down the face, neck, heart, and abdomen. It may sound far-fetched, but under the influence of cannabis, this can become a powerful cleansing technique for many.
Yoga With Cannabis
Yoga is more popular than ever in the west and for good reason. Not only does it increase flexibility, but it’s also effective at reducing stress, enhancing strength and cardiovascular function, and improving sleep. Do you struggle with motivation, focus, and aligning the breath in your yoga practice? Cannabis may help bring a more mindful approach to the session. Subtle shifts in time perception, coupled with the ability to feel more deeply into bodily sensations can take any ailing yoga practice to the next level.
Walking meditation can be a powerful practice with cannabis. It’s simple and effective. It involves walking slowly and trying to feel into every sensation the movement induces in the body. Focus on the soles of the feet, then straight up through the spine.
basically, try and feel how your foot falls on the ground. Then, focus further on how weight shifts from one side of the body to the other. Cannabis can really enhance these perceptions and turn an ordinary mundane task into something exciting and therapeutic.
What Does Science Say About Mindfulness Therapy?
Solid science backs up the wisdom of ancient cultures. The most popular studies to date describe how a mindfulness practice can help offset many of the common problems. This is true whether it be “tuning out” or uncontrolled mind-wandering.
A study Antonova E, Chadwick P, Kumari V (2015) More Meditation, Less Habituation? The Effect of Mindfulness Practice on the Acoustic Startle Reflex. PLoS ONE 10(5): e0123512. … Continue reading published in the PLOS One Journal (2015) described how meditation can help counter habituation, the tendency to stop paying attention to new information in our environment. Another study Fell J. (2012). I think, therefore I am (unhappy). Frontiers in human neuroscience, 6, 132. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2012.00132 published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience (2012) investigated the benefits of meditation concerning the almost uncontrollable mind-wandering that’s unconsciously driven. Researchers found that mindfulness training can “reduce neural processes associated with mind-wandering and task-independent thoughts.”
A study Greenberg J, Reiner K, Meiran N (2012) “Mind the Trap”: Mindfulness Practice Reduces Cognitive Rigidity. PLoS ONE 7(5): e36206. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0036206 published in the PLOS One Journal (2012) found that mindfulness practice improves our ability to solve problems. Researchers noted that “mindfulness meditation reduces cognitive rigidity”.
This means it enhances our ability to find novel and adaptive ways of responding to problems presented.
The Primal Need For Stillness
The fast pace of modern life and the associated technological advancements often obscure the time-tested techniques for wellbeing. The ancients knew only too well the importance of stilling the mind and reconnecting with deeper values. Many in the modern world struggle with it. But, the responsible and intentioned use of cannabis can help counteract those forces. And, it can help ensure a firm connection with the deep-rooted need for stillness.
|↑1||Antonova E, Chadwick P, Kumari V (2015) More Meditation, Less Habituation? The Effect of Mindfulness Practice on the Acoustic Startle Reflex. PLoS ONE 10(5): e0123512. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0123512|
|↑2||Fell J. (2012). I think, therefore I am (unhappy). Frontiers in human neuroscience, 6, 132. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2012.00132|
|↑3||Greenberg J, Reiner K, Meiran N (2012) “Mind the Trap”: Mindfulness Practice Reduces Cognitive Rigidity. PLoS ONE 7(5): e36206. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0036206|