While smoking my nightly bowl one evening, the world around me decided to come crashing in on me. Filling in all of the corners and edges of my being, demanding my attention even more than my toddler could. My senses heightened, mind quieted, and I simultaneously caught up and slowed down to the present moment. Oh, was it powerful. It was clear. I was face-to-face with reality and all that it is; feeling and accepting all that was around me.
I was high.
The elevation of Cannabis can be such a trip because it is then you realize the only thing that truly exists is the present moment. It continuously moves forward, no matter what. The past and the future are only in our minds, and the one thing that is real is time. Cannabis makes it so ridiculously clear to me that we spend our lives either fighting time or ignoring it. We are constantly letting our minds wander into memories and imagining possibilities of the future; all while our lives are passing us by. We are creating an imbalance through this way of thinking. When I think about this, when I really sit down and consider the distracted mindset of our society, I realize how sad it is that we are missing out on truly rewarding lives. It doesn’t seem healthy to relive the past and focus on the future for most of our time. What about the right now?
We need to slow down and be present. We need to be mindful of ourselves, in everything we do.
The most rewarding moments of my life have been in the silence of my son. It's during these times when I completely, 100 percent focus on him and our moment together. When we glide through time, focusing only on each other, I can feel him. I can still feel his little hand resting on my cheek, and see the shape of his eyes when he looks into mine, curling his lip into a soft smile as his face relaxes. I can even feel his little hug pressing into my legs when I get home from work. Thud, thud, thud as he waddle-runs to me. "Baba!" (Which means 'mama' in baby talk.)
So, what does it means to be mindful and why is it so important?
The large-scale awareness and cultivation of mindfulness comes primarily from the practices of Buddhism, although many religions include a type of prayer or meditation technique that centers and refocuses the mind to the present time. Even without the guidance, humans tend to refocus and meditate, naturally. Right now the common term used for our understanding of this state of presentness is “mindfulness”. According to mindful.org, mindfulness is the ‘basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”
There are benefits that come along with just being. Mindful practice has shown to reduce stress and anxiety, declutter an overactive mind, regulate bodily functions, and make us notice the true nature of our world. (Hm, these seem to align with benefits of consuming cannabinoids!)
The act of being mindful is more necessary than ever. I really do feel that the reason the majority of Westernized society is imbalanced, unhealthy, and dissatisfied is because of the severity in our distractions and disconnection to the natural world. These factors may have lead us to mindless habits and toxic lifestyles.
The first time I heard the term “mindfulness” was back in 2010 while discussing nutrition in my health class. We used the concept to help define our lack of noticing or appreciating the food we eat, including the sensations that come along. We called this lack of connection to food mindless consumption and discussed how it adversely effects our health and livelihood, ultimately leading to sluggishness, chronic inflammation, weight gain, and a myriad of chronic ailments and disease. To put the concept in motion, we exercised mindful consumption by thoroughly and slowly eating a piece of dark chocolate, writing down our experience of taste, mouthfeel, scent, and even its aftertaste. By discussing our findings, the class agreed that we've never enjoyed a piece of chocolate as much as we did in that moment. Putting “savor the moment” into full effect.
I believe we have come a long way since 2010 by being more aware of our mindless eating and how important it is to be present in our meals and snacks. This mindfulness has reshaped our views on artificial ingredients and unethical agriculture and butchery practices, demanding for a more sustainable, healthier approach to commercial foods. We have since pushed for more organic, better quality foods, and have embraced a more local, farm-to-table approach to nourishment. We have created a food movement by just being aware of what we're eating and where it came from. Our next challenge is to apply mindfulness to everything else in our lives, and I believe this is exactly what we are doing. We are waking up.
I read a New York Times article last week on how to be mindful while making coffee. I then read an article the following the week on how to be mindful while jogging. I realize there's an entire section :0) I know…there will always be trends, but this practice is as important as it is a trend— we need to be more mindful of ourselves and the world surrounding us in order to wake up and realize just how backwards we are. Mindfulness is key in lasting happiness and good health, creating a thriving society and healthy environments.
Here’s some proof in the power of mindfulness.
How does Cannabis help us become more mindful?
Cannabis is known to mediate the body and help us back into alignment by working on the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The endocannabinoid system is our inner regulatory system that helps keep our functions in rhythm and balance. Cannabinoids, the active constituents of cannabis (e.g. tetrahydrocannabinol, THC; cannabidiol, CBD) essentially feed and nurture our ECS. With this said, I strongly believe cannabis and mindfulness intertwine perfectly. I think cannabis can calm our thoughts and help us focus on the present moment, bringing out our meditate state and all of those wonderful health benefits- just like the act of mindfulness.
As mentioned above, the benefits of mindfulness are:
- reduced stress and anxiety, helping us cope with adverse events and daily stresses
- declutter an overactive mind
- lowers blood pressure
- reduces chronic pain and inflammation
- improves sleep
- alleviates gastrointestinal ailments
- helps improve mental problems such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, eating disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorders.
The benefits of cannabinoid consumption include:
- reduced stress and anxiety
- lowers blood pressure
- reduces pain and inflammation, both neuropathic and chronic
- improves sleep
- alleviates gastrointestinal ailments
- alleviates menstrual symptoms
- helps improve mental problems such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, eating disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorders (Note: it has been disputed that high levels of the cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, can trigger anxiety in some people, and expedite predisposed personality disorders, though not yet proven.)
Cannabis brings self-awareness, which some call self-consciousness, the good and the bad. I used to not like the feeling of this heightened self-awareness I would get after smoking because I didn't know how to anchor it, turning it into a positive. I’ve only now come to realize it was because a) I associated guilt with my cannabis consumption, b) I was probably smoking crappy weed, and c) I really didn't have a lot of self-love those days. Other factors to self-confidence verses self-insecurity (aka anxiety and paranoia) Are you smoking an indica-dominant? Sativa-dominant? Wjere is the herb from? What is the THC level? Where are you, home? At work? A social gathering? Do you know anyone? Is your blood sugar low? Are you actually just hangry?
All of these factors play a large role in how you feel about yourself and your environment after consuming cannabis. SO I suggest really understanding your environment and taking the time to enjoy yourself.
You know what, you don't even need cannabis to practice mindfulness. You can easily do it with or without, and here's a way to do that.
How to find peace every day.
Reserve a half hour from each of your days to sit in a room, or space of your liking, away from any phone, email, text, television, or radio. Just be in the room. Set a timer if you must, but just listen to your surroundings, think about the noises. Not what is associated with that noise, just the sound itself. Focus on an object and study every detail, what are the materials? Textures? Look at all the colors and shades. Be in that room and get lost in it. Be in the present and just feel… And let me tell you, this is a lot easier and more enriching to do after or during a smoke session. I say this for personal taste and experience. You may approach differently, hanging out with the present time for a half hour then smoking, or smoke during that time, so on. I also like to mix up my “mindful” time up by going to different spaces around the apartment or somewhere along the neighborhood.