In our harried, ultra-connected lives, all of us could all probably benefit from increased mindfulness - and for many people, both meditation and cannabis use offer a means for deep reflection and a fresh perspective on day-to-day concerns.
Using mind-altering drugs as a meditative tool is as old as spiritual practice itself. "Cannabis has been used in spirituality for thousands of years, going back to the sadhus of India smoking their chillums," says Shelly Jenkins, who teaches meditation and yoga at Colorado's Twisted Sister.
Participants are encouraged to consume cannabis responsibly before her classes. Jenkins tells Civilized that in her view, using "Earth's sacred herb before a meditation class can settle the mind and facilitate a deeper meditation and heighten awareness."
"Studies are also showing cannabis may help lower anxiety, which would allow your mind and body to relax enough to actually meditate, says Jenkins. "In the Vedas, cannabis is referred to as a 'source of happiness,' and it still plays a significant role in meditative rituals in india."
Jenkins recommends guided meditations and mantra meditation for beginners exploring herb-enhanced meditative practice. (During the ganjiki ceremony at Jenkins' Ganja Yoga Retreat, participants chant the mantra, "Om shiva shankara hari hari ganja" 108 times while passing the ceremonial pipe.)
She says a chilled-out indica strain, like Northern Lights, is preferable to a more high-energy sativa; smoking or vaping are the preferred consumption methods. Taking edibles prior to a meditation class should be undertaken with caution.
"Start with small doses and increase with time," says Jenkins. "If you eat too much, you may become heavily sedated, and possibly experience a dysphoric or unpleasant experience."
Cannabis helps you stay focused while meditating
As for her own experience of meditating while high, she says "Shiva's sacred plant allows me to connect and really engage in my practice. When I do use cannabis and meditate, it helps me get out of my head, let go of external distractions and be present in my practice."
Not everyone is on board with using cannabis as a meditative tool. Monica Voss of Esther Myers Yoga Studio in Toronto offers a few words to the wise about attempting challenging yoga poses for example, while under the influence. As she tells Mind Power News , "some people might not be aware of their body when they're high and maybe they would injure themselves. It's healthy to see all these yoga variations, but buyer beware."
Julie Phillips-Turner, founder of Chesapeake Yoga & Wellness, advises users to be aware of the illusion of enlightenment that can come from cannabis use.
"What yogis should remember, is that real enlightenment and reaching Samadhi won't come from a weed, " says Phillips-Turner, "it comes from hard work and persistent practice – abhyasa (Sutra 1.14) – a good practice includes complete faith, continued uninterrupted, for a long time – this is the way to achieve the state of yoga."
Many others feel cannabis can be a powerful tool in meditative practice: but ultimately, says Jenkins, each person needs to follow their own path to spiritual awakening (or, for the less hardcore, just feeling more peaceful, energized, and focused.)
"Cannabis and meditation are personal," advises Jenkins. " See what your body and mind like."