Article by Jennifer Jenka, Cannabis Life Network
Meditation has become a growing trend in modern times, from simple mindfulness techniques to transcendental meditation, as more and more people seek to find a heightened sense of personal awareness. Meditation has offered us a variety of benefits, such as helping with pain and relieving anxiety.
It is the same with the cannabis plant, which is said to have many uses ranging from anticonvulsant to anti-anxiety properties. But did you know that cannabis has a history of helping people meditate? Cannabis and meditation have gone hand in hand throughout the ages providing relief for several ailments and helping us attain a higher realm of awareness.
The history of cannabis and meditation
Tibet, cannabis and meditation
Cannabis was originally ritualistically used in Asia, primarily India, before the Christian era. It was especially popular in Tibet, where Tantric Buddhism developed in the Himalayas used the cannabis plant to facilitate meditation. Cannabis was considered sacred in Tibet due to its many pharmaceutical uses, and because the marijuana plant was also readily available as it grew in abundance throughout Tibet and the surrounding areas.
Shiva and cannabis
Historically, cannabis and meditation have also been an integral part of Hindu practice and culture. The Hindu God Shiva is said to hold cannabis in high esteem, and it is often used at festivals such as Shivaratri, where the Hindu God is celebrated and revered. Many people smoke cannabis and drink bhang at this festival, which is a drink made from the ground leaves and flowers from the female marijuana plant mixed with milk. This practice is a means of honouring Shiva, often depicted as carrying a bowl of herbs, including the cannabis plant.
Nepalese meditation and cannabis
Hindu Yogis from Nepal also used marijuana to aid in meditation and mixed it with tobacco in their religious rites. They claimed that the use of marijuana helped them overlook discomforts (like a cold environment) to concentrate on higher matters of the mind. These holy men, called Sadhus, use cannabis to receive the gods’ blessing. However, many believe using cannabis as an intoxicant or abusing it goes against the religion’s scriptures.
Statistics on cannabis and meditation use by Sadhus
When Sadhus were interviewed at a Shivaratri festival, 54.9% said their first use of cannabis helped to improve meditation, while 80% said they currently use cannabis for meditating purposes. The majority of Sadhus claimed to use marijuana daily but deter people from believing that Shiva wants its followers to use cannabis for fun or recreational use.
Other festivals where cannabis use is common include Diwali (the Festival of Lights) and the Kumbha Mela festival. Another group of individuals who use bhang as a beverage are the Sikhs, who drink it during religious rites.
Cannabis and meditation in modern society
In today’s busy society, our brains are often caught up with negative thinking or overthinking, which can be detrimental to our health and well-being. This mind state can create heightened levels of stress, anxiety, depression and physical ailments. Many people now look to meditation to solve this ever-growing issue. But what can you do if you cannot quiet and focus your mind?
The answer to this is to light up, eat an edible, or vape a cannabis concentrate to help you achieve a quieter mindset. By doing so, depending on the marijuana strain, you will be able to relax and put yourself in the right frame of mind to meditate. We recommend that you use an indica or indica-dominant marijuana hybrid to help you with meditation, as sativa strains tend to have a higher mental and energizing effect and may be more trouble than it is worth.
Benefits of cannabis to meditation
According to Ed Rosenthal, the best strains of cannabis that help with meditation are high in CBN (cannabinol) and create a reflective effect to its users, offering greater inner vision that is optimal for meditating. Another meditation practitioner said that a simple “presence meditation” technique, which involves meditating while under the influence of marijuana, can help us connect with the present moment easier. It can be hard to shut out the world when meditating, and cannabis can help us focus on the present and our mindfulness.
The science behind cannabis and meditation
However, scientific backing demonstrates how cannabis can help you relax and enter a meditative state. There are cannabinoid receptors such as CB1 receptors that are responsible for our brain’s inhibition and excitation response. These receptors, which are a part of our endocannabinoid system, help us balance and optimize our brain’s chemistry. In particular, the neurotransmitters GABA, dopamine, and glutamate.
These neurotransmitters, when cannabis enters our systems, are triggered and create different responses. GABA controls stress, dopamine controls moods, and glutamate promotes brain health. The result is when cannabis is used in tandem with meditation the result is a relaxed and focused state, making it easier to concentrate and reap further benefits.
When and how should you take cannabis when meditating?
You do not need a specific way to ingest cannabis before meditating. However, if you smoke it, start meditating 10-15 minutes after consumption. But, if you are taking edibles, the best rule of thumb is to wait 1-1 ½ hours before practicing mindfulness or other meditation techniques. Some users also claim that using marijuana before meditating allowed them to reach a higher plane of existence. But, without further research into the matter, it is hard to judge the validity of these claims.