Relaxation, clarity of mind, stress relief: these benefits are closely associated with both marijuana use and meditation.
It’s no surprise, then, that many people believe meditation and marijuana is a brilliant combination when it comes to managing mental health, aiding relaxation and enhancing general well-being.
Marissa, a yoga teacher and trauma counselor, says that a lot of her clients swear by the combination. “Many of my clients use weed to meditate, as do I. They find that weed can help them reach a deeper meditative state,” she says, adding that many of her clients use meditation and weed to help them manage anxiety and stress.
As someone with PTSD and depression, she first tried meditation about twelve years ago. She was initially skeptical about its benefits, but eventually realized it was helping her control her emotions and improve her mental health. She tried a combination of marijuana and meditation 9 years ago, and hasn’t looked back since. “The combination has helped me to control my thoughts, to quiet my mind and to find a sense of self-love and inner peace. It’s not a cure-all, but it’s a helpful tool in managing mental health,” she explains.
What does science say?
When we look at the science behind both meditation and marijuana, it’s easy to see that Marissa is onto something.
Meditation and marijuana are scientifically linked to the same benefits. Marijuana has been linked to treating various mental illnesses, including depression, anxiety, PTSD, eating disorders and more. Meditation, too, has been shown to be an effective method of stress relief and a treatment for mental illnesses like anxiety and depression. Scientists have found that people who meditate are better able to regulate their emotions.
Of course, marijuana and meditation aren’t only good for improving mental health, but physical health, too. Various studies have shown that meditation can reduce pain and inflammation, and marijuana has been similarly linked to treating pain. This is mostly due to the presence of CBD, a cannabinoid which has been scientifically proven to have various physical health benefits. A study by the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology has shown that CBD can be used to fight depression, cancer and inflammation, while various studies have linked medical marijuana to the treatment of chronic pain and physical illnesses like arthritis, cancer, nausea and Chron’s disease.
Alexa, a legalization activist who suffers from fibromyalgia, says that she uses both marijuana and meditation to relieve physical pain. Fibromyalgia is an incurable and often debilitating illness which results in extreme pain in the muscles and joints. “I tried meditating for many years, and although I enjoyed it, it really had no effect on managing the pain. When I had a flare-up, the aches would make it impossible to meditate,” she says. One day, she tried meditating with a friend after smoking a joint – and she found it made a world of difference. “I used weed to reduce the pain before, but I never thought to combine it with meditation. It helped me feel more relaxed, more in tune with my body,” she explains.
Marissa reiterates that marijuana doesn’t work for everyone who wants to meditate. “Of course, some people prefer to meditate when completely sober. Others find themselves falling asleep if they meditate when they’re high,” she notes. “But if you don’t often have bad reactions to weed, and if you’re not a lightweight, the combination could really work for you.”
Tips for Using Weed for a Better Meditative Experience
So how can we combine marijuana and meditation in a way that maximizes the benefits of both? Marissa shares a few tips.
First, you’ll want to find the right strain. Since different strains affect different people differently, experimentation is key.
Ideally, you’ll want a strain that maximizes feelings of relaxation and happiness without making you too hungry or thirsty. The last thing you need during meditation is to be distracted by a rumbling tummy or a dry mouth.
You can consume the cannabis in a number of different ways. You could smoke a joint the traditional way, vape, use tinctures, or even use edibles – bearing in mind that it might take a while for the effect to truly kick in. “I prefer smoking a joint, or using a tincture if I don’t want that herbaceous scent around me,” Marissa says. “I often meditate just before work, a meeting or an important interview, so smelling like weed is less-than-ideal.”
If your chosen method is smoking, take only a few hits and wait for it to take effect. Marissa recommends having a light snack and a glass of water just after smoking to ease any munchies or thirst. To meditate, you’ll want to ensure that your environment is conducive to peace and relaxation. Make sure it’s the ideal temperature and that there’s a comfortable place to sit. Choose a time and place where you won’t be distracted by loud, sudden noises or nosy housemates.
If you’re meditating to treat pain, Alexa recommends doing some gentle stretches just before meditation. “It can be difficult to focus with tight or tender muscles, so it’s a good idea to have a warm soak in a bathtub before meditating,” she suggests. “Remember that you don’t have to sit in lotus position on a cold floor: you can make yourself comfortable and sit in any position you want.”
Marissa says that a big mistake beginners often make during meditation is trying not to think at all – something which is nearly impossible for beginners. “The point of meditation isn’t to shut out all thoughts, but to observe the thoughts,” she says. We should acknowledge the thoughts and let them pass by without interacting with them. Focus on your breath: be conscious of how it enters and exits your body. If you’re spiritual, you might use meditation to pray or count your blessings.
If you don’t get it right at first, that’s okay – just try again. Meditation is like exercising a muscle: the more you use it, the stronger it becomes. Although meditation can be hard at first, it will become a lot easier through practice.
This post was originally published on June 14, 2016, it was updated on March 15, 2017.