Adding cannabis to your meditation practice could deliver the potency you might have been craving for your time on the mat. Research has proven that meditation and pot are both effective in reducing stress, and together, could deliver an enhanced mindfulness experience and overall a greater reduction in anxiety. Elevated session, anyone?
To capitalize on this plant power in your practice, first make sure you’re using the right strain to supplement. It’s as important to settle on a variety and method of consumption that works as it is to find a method of meditating that jives with you. Both offer many different options, and not all are created equally.
To guide your choice in the former, here are some pointers from a recent study: When 726 cannabis users who suffered from anxiety smoked at home and tracked their symptoms on an app afterward, results found that high CBD / low THC strains (so, indica strains) functioned best for reducing short-term depression, and low CBD / high THC (sativa) was most effective for reducing stress. Any type helped lower anxiety levels.
So, if you want to chill tf out and just lay in savasana after a hectic day, sativa strains like Cotton Candy or Lamb’s Bread are probably ideal. If you’re in need of a mood-booster before you sit, indica strains like Granddaddy Purple or Northern Lights are worth trying. If anxiety has been lingering and it’s time to get a hold of your headspace, any type will do.
Important to note though, the study that provided these findings also found that cannabis use in general was linked to more significant symptoms of depression over the longer-term – so if you struggle with long-term depression, take heed – cannabis as a consistent meditation support may not be best for you. (Findings are still promising though, this is really the first scientific study to provide guidance on the strains and quantities to use for anxiety and depression, and it’s paving the way for more involved research on the topic.)
When it comes to the best dosage to use for meditation, the study also offered a guideline that could lend itself to a home-practice. One puff of cannabis high in CBD and low in THC was optimal for reducing symptoms of (short-term) depression, two puffs of any type of cannabis was enough to reduce symptoms of anxiety, and 10 or more puffs of cannabis high in CBD and high in THC produced the largest reductions in stress. Take your pick for dosage and be mindful of whether you’re setting the intention to reduce stress, anxiety, or boost your mood pre-meditation. And, obv, start small and work your way up.
As for method of ingesting, vaping or smoking are likely the best in this case. Edibles can take a couple hours to kick in, and vaping allows you to manage your dose carefully. Plus, smoking or vaping can be part of a pre-meditation ritual to get you grounded in your body and in your space. To that point, your mindset and environment will absolutely impact your ability to feel present. So roll out your mat, dim the lights, put on that singing bowl soundtrack, and light a joint. This is your time to just be.
Have no idea where to go from there? Here are some meditation practices you might pair with a session:
- Equal breathing exercise: In a comfy meditation position, inhale through your nose for a count of four, hold at the top, then exhale for a count of four (breathing through your nose adds a natural resistance to the breath, which stimulates focus). Graduate to 6 – 8 breaths. Even just being breathing slowly with a little more control can help calm the nervous system.
- Body scan breathing: Close your eyes and focus on tensing and relaxing each muscle group in your body, starting at the toes and moving up to the crown, tensing and relaxing for 2 – 3 seconds each. Focus on maintaining deep, slow breaths as you focus on each area of your body.
- Repeating a mantra: Select a favorite word or couple of words for meditation – something that’s inspiring, and easy to repeat in your mind (it might be ‘I am here.’ ‘I am love,’ etc.) Use this mantra as a focus, repeating it internally, and return to whenever your thoughts start to wander.
- Moving mindfulness: You don’t have to be sitting on a pillow with your back pencil straight to practice mindfulness. You can set the intention to be mindful while you go for a walk, or wash the dishes, etc. The same ‘rules’ apply – focus on your breath and aim to let thoughts come and go as they enter your mind.
- Guided meditation or visualizations: Sometimes you want some audio support. An app like Headspace can offer some structure to your meditation, or, see Tara Brach’s free online meditations, or TheHonestGuys Youtube channel.