Find Bliss With This Medicated Walking Meditation

 a flower spotted during one of my morning medicated meditations

a flower spotted during one of my morning medicated meditations

During one of my morning medicated meditations (with a little sativa herb) I spotted this flower. One of the things I enjoy most about walking meditations is how easily I can become engaged in the world. I'm suddenly aware of the way cool air or warmth hit my skin, the brightness and sound of cars, the beauty of nature sprinkled in my neighborhood in the form of parks and flourishing front gardens maintained with love. I'm able to meditate in the middle of the city, remaining present to life's noisiness without it having to interfere with the integrity of my experience. There's no frustration over traffic "ruining" my zen or conditions needing to be different from what they are. The present moment becomes a gift, again. 

For me, walking meditations after a puff of a joint are always blissful. I return to a feeling of ease, connection with nature, clarity, and energy, making it the perfect practice after waking or during lunch to break up the day (during my time working 12-hour shifts at a hospital this practice was necessary during lunch to maintain my life quality, mental health, and wake up after a heavy lunch).

I thought I'd share this meditation with you in hopes of introducing a few ways of recapturing the beauty that is constantly around us, to encourage contemplation and enjoyment of now, and feel the mindful properties of cannabis in a non-traditional way. Feel free to give this meditation one or two reads, then just allow yourself to walk without having to remember absolutely everything. This is what my practice looks like and is more of a guide that you can modify in anyway that suits you.

medicated meditation

Give yourself at least 10 minutes to complete your walk, feeling free to smoke before or during. Choose a familiar path to walk to avoid concerns about the neighborhood, people, or getting lost.

Stand outside with your feet solid on the floor. Soften your toes and balance evenly on all parts of your feet.

Notice the quality of your breath. Let it flow naturally without trying to change it. Notice the quality of the air, any scents your nose can pick up, what the air feels like rushing in and out of your nostrils.

Let your eyes remain open. Keeping the eyes closed can often turn our thoughts inward so allow yourself to externalize your awareness and engage all of your senses. 

Start to take steps. Feel the ground underneath your feet or shoes, the earth supporting each step. Notice how each leg feels to pick up and set down. Notice the swing in your arms. Keep your movements slow, for now you have nowhere to be.

Start to bring your awareness to your skin as you walk. How does the temperature feel across the biggest organ on your body? Are there moments of flowing wind, stagnant heat, or drops of rain? What areas free from clothing feel the most sensation?

Notice the sounds around you. Cars passing, people walking and talking, an airplane overhead. How do those sounds make you feel? It doesn't have to be a dramatic or huge feeling, just notice it's presence. 

Notice the shades, colors, and vibrancy around you. The colors of cars, plants, the sky - whatever catches your eye. Take advantage of the way cannabis increases our visual perceptions.

Notice the nature around you wherever you can find it. Are there trees around? Touch one. Notice the texture of it's trunk. Notice whether there's any sap or a little highway of ants walking through it's grooves - a minute glimpse into another world. How many species of trees are around you? What differences can you see in them?

Carry on walking with this energy for 10 minutes minimum, with no intention but to breathe, notice, and be. 

This walking meditation is the perfect way to begin the day with clarity or as a midday pick-me-up (like a little afternoon coffee without the insomnia). Most importantly, this meditation helps create comfort around being high outside and in public, dispelling our internalized stigma around cannabis use while reconnecting with the healing + self-awakening effects of this plant medicine.

Let me know if you try this meditation and what your experience is with it, I would love to know. Have a blazed week, friends.

Quieting Mental Chatter With Cannabis & Mindfulness

 Photo credit to PuffPuffPassCo

Photo credit to PuffPuffPassCo

Mind chatter is a constant for everyone.  In yoga it's often referred to as chitta vritti which means monkey mind or mind fluctuations. The monkey mind is the repetitive internal narrator that roams from one thought to the next whether you choose to engage it or not. It jumps from the day's to-do list to irrational fears, worries about what already happened and a laundry list of nightmarish things that might happen in the imaginary future. The monkey mind rarely spends time in the present moment unless it is judging it or fantasizing on how things could be different.

Asana, meditation, and pranayama practice are all aimed towards quieting these fluctuations of the mind to reach samadhi, "a still mind", which happens when you're completely engaged in what you're doing; there are no thoughts of anything else, and time disappears. Cannabis has also been used for thousands of years to facilitate entering this trance-like state of absolute awareness. Whatever the external causes, stress is often fueled by your thoughts and constant mind fluctuations. The mind can even create stress worrying about problems that almost certainly won't happen.

When you immerse yourself in every instance of mind chatter you can never fully be in the present moment. You don't hear what your friend or partner just said. You don't fully appreciate the taste of food. You may not even be aware of how lost you are in your internal world of thought until you try to sit still and be present.

One of the most common reasons I hear as to why people don't want to meditate or do yoga is because they can't quiet their mind. This makes as much sense as someone saying they don't want to eat because they're hungry. Quieting mind chatter helps us stay focused in the present moment and also affects the way we see and perceive situations, which is much more true to reality when we don't add extra narratives.

When you feel the monkey mind working overtime and want to find stillness and calm, try some of these methods, but remember to be humble with your expectations. Noticing mind chatter and then attempting to slow it down takes practice and it's easy to fall into frustration when (not if) your mind wanders and give up thinking, "I'm terrible at being mindful!". Practice, be compassionate with yourself, and observe without judgment.

1. Breath Counting

Breath counting creates a gentle focus for the mind, anchors you to the present, and promotes smooth, deep breathing.

Find a comfortable seated position or lay down (if you know you won't fall asleep) and bring one hand to your stomach and the other to your heart. Let your body be fully supported in whatever posture you choose.

Notice the natural flow of your breath for a few cycles.

Take a deep inhale through your nose, counting 5-4-3-2-1.

Pause with your lungs full.

Slowly exhale through your nose, 5-4-3-2-1.

Pause when you're empty.

Soften and release anything that's working, slowly repeating this breath (feeling free to mentally count it to bring more focus to your mind).

It's okay if thoughts still persist for your attention, this isn't about emptying your mind.

Acknowledge any thoughts that creep up. Notice thoughts without judgement, then gently bring your attention back to the ebb and flow of your life giving breath.

Stay with the practice for 2 to 5 minutes.

"When the breath wanders the mind also is unsteady. But when the breath is calmed the mind too will be still, and the yogi achieves long life. Therefore, one should learn to control the breath."

~ Svatmarama, Hatha Yoga Pradipika

2. Meditation on the breath

This is a technique I pulled and adapted from a great book, Yoga As Medicine by Timothy McCall MD.

Set yourself up in comfortable seated position. If you're feeling particularly mind racy, gently cover your eyes with the heels of your hands to bring focus inward.

Start to follow the movement of your breath, without making any effort to change it.

Notice the sound of breath flowing in and out.

Notice the air as it brushes the insides of your nose.

Pay attention to the entire inhalation right up until it ends and an exhalation starts.

Tune in to the exact moment of transition.

Focus on the fine details of how the breath feels in your nostrils and listen to the sound it makes.

Notice if the in breath and out breath are equally smooth and of similar length.

If you notice that your attention has wavered, simply return your focus to the breath.

Stay with the practice for 2 to 5 minutes.

"The mind and breath are like two fish in a school; when one moves, the other moves. If our mind is agitated, our breath is short and choppy. If the breath is short and choppy, the mind becomes agitated. However, if we slow the breath down and breathe more deeply, the mind also slows down."

~ Bernie Clark, The Philosophy & Practice of Yin Yoga

3. Add an indica strain to your meditation

Indicas bring more awareness to your body than your mind, and also have more CBD than sativa strains making them more relaxing. Sativas can magnify your thoughts and the speed in which they enter your mind, so stay away from them for this exercise.

If you're in a space where you can comfortably consume and have more time, smoke an indica dominant strain (smoking is the best method for monitoring your high) and try the breath counting meditation.

Notice the expansive sensations in your head as the high starts to settle in.

Allow that expansiveness to create space for thoughts to come and leave, not being held in your mind.

Slowly count 5-4-3-2-1 with your in and out breath.

Stay with the practice for 2 to 5 minutes.

4.Practice non-attachment

We know the mind will have fluctuations, so avoid getting caught up in labeling every thought that pops up. Let thoughts come and go like a child attempting to interrupt a conversation for attention. Gently and kindly acknowledge the child is there, maybe even rub their head, then usher them on without them necessarily affecting the integrity of the conversation. Non-attachment doesn't mean not feeling or listening to what comes up, it means having nonjudgmental awareness of thoughts as they arise without having to cling to or change them.

5. Journal

Writing thoughts down can be a good way clear mental clutter. Your mind chatter might be trying to tell you something, so don't shut it up! Notice whether you're feeling worried, resentment, holding onto something that didn't seem to bother you but is suddenly popping up in your subconscious. This exercise won't be for dissecting every thought, but will create physical space for those mind fluctuations and feelings to be acknowledged. The journaling sessions I've combined with a joint have been the most cathartic experiences I've had as there's a sense of comfort, honesty, and deep relaxation around the process.

6. Try a Mindful Coloring Book

If you enjoy creativity, mindful coloring books immerse you in an engaging and positive outlet for your mind chatter. When you are focused on one thing, especially something fun, visually pleasing, creative, and with no right or wrong way to do it, there's more opportunity to enjoy the present moment as the mind is occupied with one thing.

I personally love to light up a bowl as I color. Take a hit, set it aside, and let the creative juices flow without judgment as a hindrance. Mindful coloring is especially good if you want to fill leisurely time (where mind chatter might be at it's highest) with a relaxing and focusing activity.

“The mind is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master.”

~ Robin Sharma

I hope you find these tools useful in taming your monkey mind through cannabis, mindfulness, and practice. Remember to be humble in your expectations and allow yourself to be human throughout the experience. Try this online class I created to relax and release mind fluctuations, I hope you enjoy it!

Why I Combine Cannabis and Yoga

Originally posted December 16, 2016. To celebrate this high holiday I wanted to repost a blog I wrote on my old website as a way to re-introduce my story to anyone who might be new. Hope you enjoy and have an amazing 420 weekend!

I had been practicing yoga for two years and smoking cannabis regularly for an even longer amount of time before combining the two. My friend Derek and I were ten minutes early for our first power yoga class when he pulled a small pipe from his mat bag, filled to the brim with ganja. Although I smoked on a regular basis I never considered doing so before a yoga class. Maybe it was an effort not to violate some unspoken yogi rule or risk smelling like weed in an enclosed space with students I thought would judge me, but that morning while under the influence of weed, the heated orbs of studio light, and the unknowing instructor's voice, the yoga practice suddenly became my own.

The class was hard- harder than any other class I'd taken at the time (I'll chalk that up to taking an advanced yoga class while high enough to high-five Jesus), but I was okay with the class being a challenge. I was tuned in and more concerned with the sensations I felt rather than labeling them as "good", "bad", "hard", or "easy", and because of this heightened awareness, when flowing and moving became too much I took a child's pose and the rest of the room dissolved.

Taking a simple child's pose didn't seem like much at the time. I always knew I could rest whenever I needed it, but the idea was easier in theory when surrounded by sculpted students in an environment that bred comparison. Smoking cannabis allowed me to tune in to myself, hear my body's needs and be easier on myself both physically and mentally. With two years of yoga under my belt I finally understood the concept of sthira sukham asanam - steadiness, ease, presence of mind, that usually eluded me outside of savasana.

Typically only the last five minutes of a yoga class are dedicated to physical and mental stillness, but in reality all of the moving from one pose to another is to prime our body and mind for meditation. Cannabis, like the blocks and straps commonly found in the studio, aids in getting to the point where we're ready to meditate. Where a block may be used to bridge the gap between your palms and the floor, cannabis works to bridge the gap between your body and spirit by quieting mind fluctuations, acting as a muscle relaxant, increasing awareness of sensations, and promoting introspection. So when yoga and cannabis (two tools for meditation) are combined, a new introspective and mindful practice forms.

Although I don't smoke every time I do yoga, I find that taking a hit or two beforehand keeps me curious and non-attached. I'm curious about how my hips must maneuver in order to get into an arm balance, rather than clinging onto the goal of getting into a desired pose. I'm curious about how my breath flows and my chest broadens in a deep back bend. For me, the curiosity cannabis promoted in my yoga made for a more genuine, safer, sustainable practice that encourages self-awareness and love.

Have you ever combined cannabis and yoga before, or are you interested in trying to? Share your thoughts below.

Loving-Kindness Meditation

For this month of cannabis-infused yoga classes I decided to offer a focus on chest-openers. Chest-openers can be backbends like upward facing dog or bridge pose, but can also be standing poses like tree or extended side angle. Either way, they're magic for reversing chronic forward hunching (the kind we do over a computer, a steering wheel, and a meal), relieving shoulder tension, and improving rib cage flexibility, allowing our lungs to expand larger and take deeper breaths with more ease as a result. And deeper breathing always means enhanced well-being and health.

Chest-openers are also called heart-openers, because beyond their physical benefits, chest-openers raise confidence and outlook, and help deepen feelings of love and compassion for ourselves and others.

With this in mind, last Friday's yoga practice begun with a short loving-kindness meditation supported by potent, euphoria producing Gorilla Glue #4 (One of my faves. My husband and I have a little baby of our own growing at home and she's looking mighty fine), cbd, topicals, and restorative fish pose. The perfect set-up to feel grounded and receptive for some heart-opening.

Below, you'll find the little loving-kindness practice we did, feel free to light up your favorite body melting flower to compliment the experience. This is a great practice to do in the morning to set the tone of your day, and to cultivate and share compassion, love, and empathy to yourself and others. I hope it serves you as well as it has me.

Find a comfortable position, whatever that looks like for you. You can be seated or even laying down. Feel free to prop yourself up in a passive heart-opening shape like reclined bound angle pose or restorative fish. 

Close your eyes.

Allow your body to relax. Soften your shoulders, release tension from your face and jaw.

Start to notice your breath. How it moves, where you feel it 

Bring your attention to your heart center, noticing your chest rise and fall with the movement of your breath.

Start to visualize your inhales drawing loving-kindness into your heart, filling your chest cavity, then eventually your whole body. See your exhales bring loving-kindness from your whole body into your heart.

Do this for a few rounds of breath.

Now, think of someone you love. 

Visualize your heart space filling with loving-kindness with your inhale, then on your exhale send all of your loving-kindness to this person, thinking the mantra, “I wish you happiness, I wish you ease, I wish you love” as if you were saying it to that person. 

Think of someone your have neutral feelings towards.

Inhale fully, taking loving-kindness up into your lungs. Exhale deeply and send all of your loving-kindness to this person, repeating the mantra, “I wish you happiness, I wish you ease, I wish you love” as if you were speaking to them.

Think of someone who you have less than desirable feelings towards. Focus on them while inhaling loving-kindness into your heart. Send them all of your loving kindness on your exhale, and repeat the same mantra.

Think of yourself. 

Inhale, seeing your body fill with loving-kindness. Repeat the mantra and send all of your loving-kindness to yourself. 

Think of all living beings. Take a long, even inhale of loving-kindness. Repeat the mantra as you release your breath and loving-kindness to all living being everywhere.

Take a few more rounds of breath, staying with these feelings after this practice for a while before doing some intuitive, gentle stretches, going onto your yoga practice, lighting up more herb, or moving into the rest of your day.


How to Stay Calm & Grounded When Your High Isn't

Originally posted April 4th 2017

Many of us have a story of consuming cannabis and it hitting a lot harder than we'd anticipated, getting a quick lesson in dosing and discovering our "subjective therapeutic window" which Uwe Blesching describes in The Cannabis Health Index as a personal dosage that is just enough to feel the desired benefits of cannabis, and not an excessive amount that can counteract these effects. You can find your subjective therapeutic window by taking a small hit of a joint, bowl, or other smoking apparatus, waiting for 10 minutes or more to see the effects, then taking the same amount again and wait another 10 minutes if you desire a stronger effect.

Discovering your subjective therapeutic window is important for a comfortable and enjoyable high, but until then you may face frustration with consuming too little, and more likely, have an unpleasant trip from consuming too much THC, so it helps to be prepared with tools to stay calm and grounded even when your high seems to be getting out of hand. Here are a 4 tips and techniques that have helped me prevent and coax down getting too high,

1. Always have CBD products on hand

CBD is the yin to THC's yang. Where THC produces the psychoactive mental high, CBD is the non-psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis that does not give any mind altering effects and is generally used to treat pain, post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and as an anti-inflammatory. CBD is extremely effective in taming the psychoactive influence of THC, allowing consumers to experience THC's therapeutic properties. CBD tinctures are a great tool to de-escalate a high as the dropper makes dosing easy, and sublingual application allows for fast acting relief from an uncomfortable trip.

2. Practice 2:1 breathing

2:1 breathing is a deep, diaphragmatic breath where the exhale lasts twice as long the inhale. This is beneficial because the heart beats slower on an exhale which is generally calming and reduces fear and anxiety - common symptoms for someone who's consumed more than their ideal dose of THC. This breathing practice is used often in yoga and meditation to bring focus to the present moment, give a soft focus to the practitioner's mind, and activate the parasympathetic nervous system, our internal system responsible for rest and digestion which sends signals to the mind and body to relax.

When you've smoked too much cannabis, practicing 2:1 breathing for a few minutes in a seated position can calm your nerves and also give you a focus on your inhales and exhales, drawing your senses to inward rather than to outward sensory stimuli.

3. Be mindful of your thoughts

Once you get caught up in the fact that you're just too high, it's easy to get carried away to a point of panic. Your thoughts and breath have a lot of power in affecting how you feel. If you're in a panic and only repeat thoughts that reinforce this, you're facilitating more thoughts that will make the situation feel even worse. Mindfulness is known to reduce stress and when combined with 2:1 breathing is a great way to activate the parasympathetic system and cultivate calm. While practicing 2:1 breathing be mindful of any thoughts that come up. Notice, is this thought helpful? Is this thought accurate? Do not actively try to change your thoughts, just acknowledge them as they come in, notice what kind of thought it is, don't judge it or yourself, then let the thought go and bring your attention back to your breath. And remind yourself that any negative effects that you're feeling from the bad trip will soon pass.

4. Move with curiosity and non-judgement

Judging yourself when you get too high is an easy place to go to, but switching this action to curiosity creates an opportunity to explore yourself and actively learn from the situation. I recently took an Anusara cannabis yoga workshop (my first time doing a cannabis-enhanced class under someone else's instruction) where I smoked a kief covered joint and scoffed medicated gummie bears - it was heaven. We started the class and after a few poses I noticed my hands were shaking as I pressed them together in samasthiti. I could feel a vibration through my whole body. There were two perspectives I could have taken in this situation; one embraced curiosity and the other a critique. Rather than scold myself for how I shook in the pose, I noticed the energy and excitement the cannabis caused in me, how it effected my practice, how my breath and heartbeat were magnified, how I could be curious and love the way I moved and my capabilities at this moment. This shifted my thoughts out of whether I had smoked more than I should to a state of calm and child-like curiosity, where I was happy to learn and explore my body and mind as if it were new. If you practice yoga, I recommend doing slow rounds of classic sun salutations and pay extra attention to the breath and the way your body feels. Notice without judging. Stand in a strong samasthiti or mountain pose with your feet rooted, legs engaged, and tailbone lengthening to the floor. Be compassionate with yourself, see if you can move with a beginner's curiosity, and stay with yourself until you feel calm and grounded.

Facing Difficult Emotions Head-On With The Aide of Cannabis

Emotions are a normal and vital part of our lives, but we often filter out so-called negative emotions and hang onto the ones that make us feel good. Can cannabis be an emotional ally and shine a light on our habits of attachment to good feelings only, while helping us experience and understand all of our emotions? We love the highs of life and hate the lows, but evading emotions isn't a healthy or productive way to deal with our feelings, so how can we use a connective cannabis high to change our reaction to our lows?

First, we must realize that all emotions are inherently positive. Difficult emotions can be painful at times, especially when we feel them very often or dwell on them. Still, no matter how painful, emotions are supposed to be felt and can be an indicator of underlying issues we may have. Anger, resentment, or frustration may be trying to tell us that we are uncomfortable in a situation or want to protect something, that someone has made us mad and we need to set boundaries for that relationship, or it may be telling us that we've been holding onto a past event that needs to be resolved. Feelings of insecurity might be a reflection of not feeling stable or deep seeded issues of not feeling good enough. Without fear how would you know you were in danger? Emotions are the feedback that teach us something important about a situation or ourselves, we just have to learn to differentiate between negative emotions and our negative reactions to those emotions.

Cannabis heightens our ability to notice our mind fluctuations and sensations, and feel more in and aware of our body. The ripple effect our breath has on our body becomes more profound and every thought is enlightening (because of the way cannabis interacts with our neurotransmitters). Cannabis gives us a space to be conscious of our habits and thought patterns without the stickiness of self-judgment or feeling the need to drown out difficult emotions with mantra or positive affirmations.

Cannabis enables us to step off to the side, outside of our typical perspectives and stories, and be

With her aide we can create space, a softness around the emotion being felt, where we can step through the fourth wall and observe our whole selves - seeing where an emotion stems from with less critical, jarring, and sensitive eyes. With more clarity and compassion. Oftentimes this opens our minds to the fact that things we get emotionally riled up over usually aren't as important after a few breaths and further inspection. And if those issues still feel important it's even more pertinent to allow yourself space to express those grievances through your emotions. Emotions have many sides and cannabis helps us see them individually, in turn teaching us to respond to emotion rather than bury it, which can be the fine line between feeling a little frustration, blood boiling anger, or calcified bitterness, all varying degrees of anger.

An important practice for dealing with difficult feelings is to acknowledge them without clinging to or pushing them away. Regularly checking in with our emotions can help us become better attuned to receiving their messages. We can identify the subtle difference of each emotion and hone into exactly what we are feeling without criticism. Knowing what jealousy feels like and the varying degrees in which it shows up in you can help you faster identify it and get to the root of the cause.

Cannabis and her ability to raise our awareness and perception of our emotions can help with this identification of emotions and their nuanced sensations, guiding us into deep self discovery and understanding.

A safe space we can explore using cannabis to face difficult emotions is in our yoga practice. In yoga, most of us have the habit of pushing away difficult emotions when we try a shape like swan or chair pose. We resist the shape because it's new, uncomfortable, or challenging, we self-criticize because we're struggling in the shape and make comparisons. Our thoughts feed into the cycle of negativity and we get out of the pose so that we don't have to feel that emotion anymore. But notice what happens when those shapes become more familiar to us and start to feel good. We surrender to and revel in the blissful shape, our ego inflates because we are able to hold the pose longer than before, we still make comparisons. We cling to positive emotions and push away difficult ones when neither will last forever. Cannabis can shine a light on the emotional signs present throughout our practice and enable us to feel freely while peeling back layers of discomfort and avoidance that allow negative thought patterns and emotions to persist unchecked. We are better able to go through emotions (both positive and negative) without the need to cling to or drown them out with positive affirmations and mantras, evading what the emotions is trying to express. Cannabis can be a way to observe and acknowledge all spectrums of emotion, then gently let it go on when they no longer serve us.

Cannabis promotes mindfulness, our awareness of the present moment, and when we toke with intention it can be a path to home, yourself - your thoughts, feelings, sensations, and emotions, all of you - without need to alter what is there. When we create this space with powerful plant medicine we are able to create space for our emotions to show up without fear of being evaded or judged. Then with continued mindfulness practice (with or without the aide of cannabis) we are more able to sit with those emotions and see whether they stem from love, reality, ego, fear, trauma or another place. We discover and re-learn ourselves through observation and the gentle guidance of cannabis. We learn to experience difficult emotions, and when we hit that wall of peak discomfort we lean into the wall and find softness instead of hardening. Be curious. Notice what bodily sensations arise with certain emotions or how it shows up in your mood state. We cannot fool ourselves into believing the emotion isn't there, so name and observe it, without having to feed into it.

The remnants of pain left behind by every strong negative emotion that is not fully faced, accepted, and then let go of join together to form an energy field that lives in the very cells of your body. - Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth

Ignored emotions will not dissipate so it is in our best interest to allow our feelings to rise up, observe those feelings rather than resist, and listen to what they're trying to tell you. We observe the negative without feeding it. We acknowledge it's existence without having to be completely identified with it. Once we've found out how and why negative emotions are showing up, we must ask ourselves what we can realistically do to remove that thing. It may be something as simple as having a conversation with someone, or more difficult like expanding our perception about a situation, something cannabis can help with.

Use this time of discovery to feel grateful, curious, excitement, love, and content about the process of exploring difficult emotions. This way you're not drowning out a difficult feeling with positive affirmations, but bringing positivity into a realm we typically consider as negative and unnecessary. Working more with difficult emotions means turning them into your allies rather than enemies. These emotions are not meant to be sent away, told they are bad, or repressed.  They are meant to help us see what is going on in our lives and respond with love and clarity.

Setting Intentions for a Deeply Connected High

Do you ever take the time to do nothing but smoke? I mean, roll up a good blunt or joint and smoke it while doing literally nothing else but being present. At the most just enjoying the smoke while chatting with your friend or love, or sitting out on your patio in silence observing traffic as the outdoor climate awakens your skin. Because I'm so used to the act of smoking I tend to smoke while sending emails, while reading textbooks, or scrolling through my phone, and I've noticed dividing my attention like this takes away from the whole high I could be experiencing.

In our society multitasking is considered a positive, but when we spread our attention between several different things it's impossible to experience one thing fully or complete a task to the best of our ability. And when it comes to consuming cannabis, not being fully present for your high bares the questions Why smoke in the first place if you're not mentally there to experience it? Do you consume cannabis to remove yourself from the present moment or to help immerse yourself in it? Are your smoke sessions a passive and disconnected activity with no conscious intention besides getting high in that moment? Whatever the answers may be, it's okay to be aware of them without adding any extra narrative or judgments.

A few days ago I put aside my other tasks to smoke some Gorilla Gold (indica-dominant hybrid) my husband had rolled up for us to share. I set the intention to be present, ignore all distractions, and focus on being in the space at that very moment. We lit the blunt and raised it in dedication to enjoying time together after a full day of work. I noticed how the blunt smelled and tasted, how the cannabis was making me feel, how I was so comfortable being in my home with my husband smoking on our Friday night, all of which were effecting my experience. Being the most present I could created a much stronger connection with my high and gave me greater control of it.

Although I had smoked this same flower before I had never done so with mindfulness and intention setting, so this time I was much more engaged with the experience. The strain's true indica effects gave me a wonderful body-enveloping high as I lifted my limbs as if moving through water - slow and steady with each micro-movement feeling sweet. I moved slowly and consciously to feel these intricate sensations, gave myself a good morning stretch that made my body feel as if it had been contracted for most of the day and was just now opening up. The sofa hugged my body from all sides and sunk me into the cushions, giving me a strange sense of safety and comfort. I was caught in the flow of my body movement and it's sensations, euphoric, out of my thoughts, and still able to engage with my surroundings while enjoying how cannabis was enhancing the experience.

The strain's true indica effects gave me a wonderful body-enveloping high as I lifted my limbs as if moving through water - slow and steady with each micro-movement feeling sweet.

Disconnecting from or finishing other tasks before lighting up acts as a reminder to practice mindfulness while consuming cannabis and deeply engages you to the effects of your high. This awareness helps us maintain a healthy relationship with this powerful herb while bringing enjoyment to being present rather than falling into the stress building mindlessness of multi-tasking. And with all of your attention focused on actually experiencing your high, it is easier to feel the vast variety of effects a strain is having on your body, learn how certain strains show up in you/whether or not they work for you, and learn how you react to the high mentally, emotionally, and physically therefore making it easier to monitor and responsibly dose yourself. This awareness can ultimately make you so deeply connected to the full extent and experience of your high that you smoke less than you normally would do when your attention is preoccupied with other thoughts and tasks.

Outside of setting an intention of presence with your flower, some other ways you can practice mindfulness for a deeply connected high are to be aware of what kind of cannabis you're consuming. Is it an indica, sativa, or hybrid? Knowing the strain greatly influences how much you'll consume and what you'll experience.

Smell the nugs before consuming them - cannabis is a flower after all, and most strains smell delicious and pungent. Notice whether the scent reminds you of fruit, earth, cheese, pine, a memory, or anything else specific. Does it make your mouth water or is it off-putting? How does the smell make you feel?

Disconnecting from or finishing other tasks before lighting up acts as a reminder to practice mindfulness while consuming cannabis and deeply engages you to the effects of your high.

Taste the cannabis or whatever you've chosen to roll it in. Take slow, occasional hits so you can experience the different flavors that come up and gradually escalate your high. For the purest taste I recommend smoking out of a clean bowl and using a hemp wick to light the cannabis, this way there's no taste of butane from the lighter.

Take notes. What's the name of the strain? What shop did you get it from? What time did you smoke? How did you smoke and how much? What did you feeling while smoking? Take notes on this and whatever else comes to mind on a scrap of paper, a notebook, or your phone - just letting it flow and add to the deeper connection and understanding of your high.

Start with setting an intention to be present with your cannabis and these other mindful habits will follow. If you like to smoke in the morning (it's not for everyone, but I find certain strains like Pineapple Express are energizing, focusing, and induce productivity), smoke your first bowl and set an intention to be present with it. I find that doing this in the morning makes mindful choices occur naturally as the day goes on. Put down your phone, listen to a podcast, sit or lay comfortably, sip water, and smoke. Notice how the high creeps up and expresses itself over time. Notice how your body and mind reacts to this, without any extra narratives or judgments, just feel this deep connection with your high. A deeper connection with your high means a deeper connection with yourSelf.

How Cannabis Promotes Mindfulness

If you’ve taken a yoga class you’ve probably heard an instructor talk about mindfulness. They may have set mindfulness as a communal intention for the class, or even read a quote to drive the theme home, but what does mindfulness really mean? To be mindful simply means to be aware; to calmly acknowledge and accept your whole self (thoughts, feelings, your body and it’s sensations) in the present moment.

Practicing mindfulness doesn’t come easily, but we tune in to it often through yoga, pranayama practice (conscious breathing) and seated meditation. Certain strains of cannabis, particularly strong indicas and hybrids, recreate the effects meditation has on the brain as they both promote euphoria, relaxation, pain tolerance, self awareness, empathy, and generally enhance our perception of an experience, while decreasing depression, stress, and anxiety – all of which aid in taking the trip to a mindful state.

The biggest benefit here is that cannabis increases self awareness – the entire idea behind mindfulness. If you’ve ever been in a yoga class unable to tune in and feel your breath, you know how difficult it can be to find the extraordinary in what seems like a very ordinary action. We breathe literally every second of our lives so a disconnection with this process is natural, but with cannabis we’re able to rediscover the magic of our breath, and the simple act of breathing becomes profound. The fact that cannabis also enhances our perception of that experience means that you’ll stay entranced by the ebb and expansion of your lungs and belly for longer, letting go of the external world until the world is just your body and breath.

Of course, practicing mindfulness when consuming cannabis is essential to reaping all of these benefits and preparing your body and mind for bliss. No two strains are created equal so be sure to talk to your budtender about the effects of particular strains so you can make an informed choice. Whether you are new to consuming cannabis or not, smoke less than you normally would as meditating increases the high considerably – you can always have more later if you want to. 

Consuming progressively rather than all at once ensures you won’t get to a point where your mind is running wild, and also encourages listening very closely to your body’s needs. And that, my friends, is where a sweet mindfulness practice begins. This is not to say you should get high every time you want to be mindful (which is ideally all of the time), not only is that unrealistic, it’s an unhealthy relationship with a plant that can be wholly therapeutic. Experiment with consuming cannabis while meditating or doing yoga and notice how you’re able to let go of the external. Hold on to this ease. Feel it in your fibers. The next time you return to your mat for a moment of meditation, you’ll notice returning to bliss is much more accessible, with or without the aid of cannabis.