Being present has always been an uphill battle for me. Fully planted in the land of the “left brain”, I think in numbers, angles and future sources of anxiety. For me, there is no “be here now” there is only “wtf is going to happen 10 minutes from now and how will I manage it?” When I was a kid, my dad and I used to play a game at bedtime called “what if”? We would go over all of the unknowns of the next day and talk about how I would handle the anxiety that came from all of the possible outcomes. What if I get lost on the way to school? What if I can’t find my ride to gymnastics? What if I didn’t prepare enough for the test? Needless to say, living in the moment is not in my DNA and fears about what the future “may” hold maintains a great deal of real estate in my brain.
Yes, I have tried meditating, and mindfulness practice, and yoga, and breathing exercises, and a whole host of activities meant to bring me back from the world of “what if’s” and into the world as I am currently experiencing it. And while those efforts were not entirely fruitless, I learned early on that there was a short cut to the place of mindfulness I was always chasing, and that short cut was cannabis.
Cannabis is one of the oldest cultivated plants. Meaning, that as soon as we humans knew its power, we were sure to carry it with us as we traversed the earth. One of the reasons it was love at first sight, was because humans quickly realized that cannabis could provide benefits across a host of things. Food, fiber and medicine, all cornerstones of early human survival, and all provided for by the cannabis plant. But beyond these staples of existence, cannabis also provided a gateway into personal connection, mindfulness and awareness of the environment, and of ourselves.
It is commonly said that cannabis makes food taste better, movies more entertaining, human company more appreciated and tolerable and nature more vibrant. But, perhaps it is not just the cannabinoids that do these things, but their ability to firmly plant us in the moment. Maybe food tastes better because we are focused on enjoying it. Maybe movies are more enthralling because we are more engaged and our mind is not wandering into the future. Perhaps nature is more flamboyant because we are immersed in the moment and what surrounds us.
Awareness is a major part of mindful cannabis consumption. Allowing the effects of the plant to station you in the here and now can help you make the most out of your consumption, all while reducing stress and anxiety and preventing your mind from drifting into the land of the “what if’s”. Here is something to try the next time you consume cannabis, and the practice is the same whether you are a newer consumer or a longtime fan.
Go outside and find something that looks pretty: a flower, a blade of grass, a tree. Consume your cannabis (if you are consuming via inhalation, you can do this exercise right away, if consuming via edibles, wait until you feel the effects). Now, take 3 deep breaths, and look deeply at your chosen object. Notice the colors, and the lines and characteristics. Notice how it changes with the breeze. If you can, touch the object and pay attention to how it feels. Do this for 5 minutes. You’ll likely find that those 5 minutes can turn into 10. I have sat and looked at a tree, just one tree, for 30 minutes straight after consuming cannabis. Make this a practice. And, just like that, you have achieved mindfulness. Cannabis does not just “create” mindfulness, rather, it is a tool that can help open the door, especially for those of us who think in right angles and live in the land of “what if’s”.
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