IF YOU MEDITATE WHILE HIGH, WILL IT ENHANCE YOUR YOGA EXPERIENCE?
A trend that we've been observing lately is the combination of mental and physical therapy routines (yoga, meditation – even massage) with the curative qualities of CBD – it’s marijuana, but not as you know it. It's become such a craze that many yoga studios across the UK have begun supplying CBD oils in their studios, to help aid in the pursuit of enlightenment.
So what's the story behind this? How does the science weigh up, and how do they fare when combined with cannabis? We take a closer look.
A GENTLE REMINDER BEFORE WE DIG IN
Before we start namaste-ing on you, please note that although we practice yoga and meditation for wellbeing, we’re in no way gurus in the field (we’d actually love to give a pop quiz to anyone who thinks they are!).
What you read and experience with us today comes from our own minds, hearts and souls, and is based on our own encounters with the meditative journey with CBD. We totally understand that meditation is a personal pathway of discovery and self-breakthrough, and we want to stress to you that there is not just one way to meditate, just as there’s no one way to use CBD, as we’ll explore further on.
So come with us on this expedition as we work to define, realise and overcome our stressors through the use of cannabis and relaxing meditation.
LET’S TALK ABOUT STRESS, BABY!
First things first – it’s important to remember that from a scientific point of view, stress isn’t actually a negative thing we should be scared of. In fact, it’s a natural, biological reaction to a potentially harmful situation.
When we experience the sudden onset of stress (or anxiety) – for example, when you go down a rollercoaster or during turbulence in the middle of a long flight – our brains release adrenaline and cortisol. These are the hormones that are responsible for increasing heart rate, elevating blood pressure, and boosting energy supply. This essentially allows us to “fight” and preserve ourselves during the traumatic event.
Stress responses are our brain’s way of keeping us alive, and as a result, our muscles tense, our rate of breathing quickens, and glucose levels increase to allow for quicker tissue repair in case of injury. Even in less dangerous situations, perceived stress is still just as helpful, allowing us to push through late night study sessions, deal with embarrassing situations, or when we engage in activities that make us nervous.
REPEAT AFTER ME: STRESS IS NOT THE ENEMY
Instead, see it as a friend who’s always got your back; one who’s always there for you – particularly when times get a bit hairy. It’s only when we leave our stress unmanaged that we run into problems.
Leaving it untreated results in long-term elevated stress levels which can bring about headaches, insomnia, burnout, and depression. After a while, these things may spiral out of control further and can leave you with heart trouble, suicidal ideation, and an increased risk of stroke.
Of course, we don’t want any of that, and even the thought is enough to get our stress responses pumping, so let’s delve deeper into ways to manage our stressors naturally and at our own pace.
MEDITATION – THE NATURAL WAY TO MANAGE STRESS?
In the last several hundred years, meditation has been hailed as a popular technique to relieve stress and develop mental cognition for people across a broad range of religions and beliefs. Did you know that the official definition of meditation is to “focus one's mind for a period of time, in silence or with the aid of chanting, for religious or spiritual purposes or as a method of relaxation”? What a lovely thought.
When we picture meditating, we may imagine sitting peacefully with our legs crossed, perhaps with incense burning whilst listening to wind chimes or Gregorian chants. The truth is, while that may be the case for some, it won’t be the case for all of us. I know people that meditate on the train into work, some in the bath, and others in bed as they’re falling asleep. The real goal of meditation is that we find time to “shut off”, close the door to our busy and stressful lives, and find a moment of inner peace and quiet reflection.
One of the best ways to practice meditation is through yoga, which incorporates many techniques derived from Buddhist practices. Still, it's worth remembering that many other cultures have practised meditative techniques in various forms different to this. There's a huge variety of meditative techniques, with all of them typically calling on you to centre your attention and relax it entirely in a space without distraction. Let’s look at two primary forms of meditation:
Concentration Meditation – The objective of this form of meditation is to direct your single-minded attention toward a chosen object: for example a picture, your breath, a ticking clock, a candle flame, or a chosen word. Being able to concentrate one's attention to this object develops your ability to remain still, focused and grounded.
Mindfulness Meditation – This method focuses on practicing mental training that encourages the slowing down of racing thoughts, allowing the meditator to let go of negativity in order to calm the body and bring peace to the mind. These techniques can vary, but in general, it involves a breathing practice and awareness that is synchronised with the physical body and the mind. In most cases, focusing on breathing in and out whilst targeting the chest and diaphragm is the main method of practice.
For even more information on the types and benefits of medication, check this out!
CANNABIS FOR CALMNESS?
In recent years, Cannabidiol (CBD) – a fundamental element of the cannabis sativa plant – has drawn growing attention as a treatment for a range of neuropsychiatric disorders including stress and anxiety.
Studies are determining if CBD has the potential to treat anxiety-related disorders through the assessment of human experimental and clinical evidence. At this stage, we know that CBD has a broad pharmacological profile, including interactions with numerous brain receptors known to control fear and anxiety-related behaviour.
If this is the case, doesn’t it make sense to combine proven meditation techniques with CBD to boost our chances of peacefulness? For more information on the benefits of CBD.
HISTORY OF MEDITATION AND MARIJUANA
Reaping the positive rewards of marijuana and meditation is not news to us. In fact, this conversation has roots grounded in many ancient cultures. In Mahākāla Tantra (an idol in Buddhism, Sikhism and Hinduism who is known to protect worshippers against illnesses), cannabis and other psychoactive plants were specifically prescribed for medicinal purposes.
In the Vedas, one of the sacred Hindu texts written around 1500 BC, cannabis was one of five sacred plants. It was so sacred that it was even believed a guardian angel lived in its healing, aromatic leaves.
It’s also important to remember that CBD has no psychoactive properties. This makes the compound closer to enjoying a relaxing herbal tea (another relaxant traditionally used in many ancient Buddhist ceremonies, particularly green tea) than those euphoric states derived from THC-heavy marijuana that we typically smoke or ingest. In fact, the World Health Organisation states, “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential … To date, there is no evidence of public health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD."
CAN CANNABIS AND MARIJUANA HELP WITH MEDITATION?
There is no evidence to suggest otherwise and, when examined closely, we find CBD even delivers on many of the same restorative effects that traditional yoga and meditation does. Specifically, the ability to centre the mind and produce an overall “body calm” are both effective results of using CBD and meditating.
In addition to channelling serenity, CBD can be used to aid muscle recovery and reduce inflammation that goes hand in hand with physical yoga practices (check out our article on exercise for more on this). With this in mind, you can see how CBD may be effective in combination with yoga and meditation.
SHOULD I TAKE CBD BEFORE A YOGA CLASS?
We’d like to highlight that it typically may take around 15 minutes to feel the full effects of CBD, so dropping a couple of tinctures before a meditation or yoga class might not be the best way approach it, particularly if your class runs to a strict timetable.
However, if CBD helps you to clear your mind and reach that heavenly body calm, it won’t hurt to incorporate this into your session. Rather than seeing CBD as a way to achieve full calm by itself, we urge you to think of it as a tool to help you feel calm, relaxed and ready to meditate, just as your yoga mat or incense might.