The Impact of THC and Cannabis on Meditation

The Impact of THC and Cannabis on Meditation

According to Cannabis and Culture, Hindu yogis have been aiding their meditation practice with the consumption of cannabis for generations. It should come as no surprise that the art of meditation amongst US citizens has grown rapidly, with as much as 40% of US adults stating that they meditate at least once a week. This is likely due to the data reported by various studies that express the potential numerous benefits from meditation.

Naturally, we strive to make the most out of everything we do, and this often leads to seeking out tools that will help in the process. Runners will search for the best shoes, a cyclist may try to find the best bike setup, and yogis probably always keep an eye out for the latest and greatest yoga mat. Typically, meditators are no stranger to this desire to excel in their practice, often resulting in them searching for tools that will allow them to become more immersed in the experience.

Considering that meditation is primarily a mental form of exercise, it is natural to look for tools that may impact your mental state. This is where many meditators find themselves questioning the impact of cannabis and THC on meditation.

Pros and Cons of Using Cannabis During Meditation

As with most things, there are both potential benefits and pitfalls when combining cannabis with your meditative practice.

Potential Benefits

  1. Mindfulness – Whether you consider yourself a newbie or a seasoned veteran in the world of meditation, you probably consider mindfulness one of the primary goals of meditating. Mindfulness is simply a mental state of being aware. If you’ve used cannabis before, especially products with a higher THC concentration, it is likely that you understand the cross-over between meditative mindfulness and the state of mindfulness that cannabis products can produce.

One of the potential benefits of cannabis use during meditation is an increased state of mindfulness. By boosting this state of awareness, a practitioner of meditation may find that their sessions are deeper, allowing for a more robust mental connection with their own psyche. Of course, it should be mentioned that cannabis is a biphasic or dose dependent compound. This simply means that increasing your dosage amount does not necessarily correlate with an increase in the desired effects. In fact, overdoing it can result in what Buddhists refer to as monkey mind or racing thoughts. That’s why it is important to begin low and slow when pairing cannabis and meditation. This will allow you to find your optimal dosage, product, and timing.

  1. Focus – Long-time and experienced meditators have established countless tricks to help them remain focused during a meditation session. This is something that, in most cases, just takes time and practice. Beginners often find themselves becoming distracted by even minor interruptions from the outside world, leading to the use of earplugs, blindfolds, or anything to help cut off the outside stimuli for a few minutes. Just as the case with mindfulness, cannabis has become another trick up the sleeve of many individuals who find themselves easily distracted during practice. Once again, the key when bringing cannabis into the mix is identifying the dosage and product that provides you with the desired effects.
  1. Relaxation – This is a category that affects nearly everyone, regardless of if you’ve been meditating your entire life or you’ve just started your journey this week. Stress is a part of life. While some people are capable of compartmentalizing life’s stressors, there are plenty of us who find ourselves haunted throughout the day by all types and sizes of stress. Meditation has been shown to be an excellent tool for relieving stress. Asking anyone who meditates even semi-regularly will likely produce an overwhelming number of anecdotal reports around the reduction of their stress levels. That said, sometimes our brains can be exceptionally stubborn and even the best practices like meditation could use an extra hand to be able to let go of stress. This is where many who practice meditation turn to cannabis. Over the past few years, many research facilities have been studying cannabis’ ability to reduce stress and the results have been promising. A study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology reported a “blunted stress reactivity” in regular cannabis consumers. As previously mentioned, a certain dosage or cannabis product that may work for a friend or family member won’t necessarily be optimal for you.

Potential Pitfalls

  1. Timing – Considering the wide array of cannabis product forms available, it is easy to understand that the effects won’t be felt at the same time. For instance, edible cannabis products can take up to two hours after consumption before the effects are felt while a product like Koan Cordials may only take a few minutes. This variability is further complicated by individual factors like diet, metabolism, and genetics. Ensuring that you time your consumption based on when you plan to begin a meditation session is imperative when using cannabis during practice.
  1. Undesired Effects – If you’re new to cannabis use or even if you’re an experienced consumer with a penchant for trying new products, you’ve probably realized that not every cannabis product produces the same response. This can become especially burdensome if you find yourself using cannabis to help relax the mind during meditation and your chosen product results in less relaxing and more energizing effects. Of course, relaxation and invigoration aren’t the only possible outcomes. Some product blends may cause you to become too relaxed or a number of other undesired — for meditative purposes — effects. This is based on meditation that is intended to train the mind, not necessarily to help fall asleep. While there are meditations that target or promote sleep, the meditation for gaining mindfulness and peace of mind is a meditative state that is alert and present. This is why choosing the right blend for that mindset is equally important.
  1. Product Variation – Let’s say you find a cannabis product that produces precisely the effects that you need to take your meditation practice to the next level. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always mean that the same product will produce those results during subsequent sessions. This is due to product composition variation and is an issue that plagues much of the cannabis industry. To mitigate this concern, you should always search for a product that not only provides a batch specific certificate of analysis (COA), but also one that provides verifiable evidence of precision quality and dosage control during the manufacturing process. This will grant you the ability to experience repeatable results from session to session.
  1. Product Composition – Previously, THC and CBD were all the talk when it came to finding your ideal cannabis product. Although these compounds are indeed important, more recently, researchers have continued to unravel the mystery behind the cannabis plant. Evidence points to the plant’s other compounds like terpenes and flavonoids also playing a role in how users are affected as well. It is just as important to understand and document which terpenes and other compounds are found in your cannabis product and the corresponding effects as you would THC or CBD content.

So, What’s the Best Way to Use Cannabis During Meditation?

Meditation and cannabis are both experiences that are deeply unique to each person. That said, there are a few tips that most agree on when combining the two.

  1. Beginning with One at a Time – If you’ve never consumed cannabis and you’ve never practiced meditation, it is probably a bad idea to dive in headfirst and try both at the same time. Take some time to familiarize yourself with each individually. Learn how your body and mind react to meditation without cannabis. Understand the challenges you face before introducing a tool like cannabis. Additionally, if you’re a first-time cannabis user, it is probably not a good idea to try meditating until you have some experience under your belt and have an idea of how you react to cannabis.
  1. Beginning Low and Slow – Regardless of what friends, family, or budtenders tell you, it is always a good idea to slowly begin with a low dosed product. Inexperienced users consuming a high THC product and trying to meditate is akin to deciding you want to be an Olympic swimmer and jumping into the deep end of the pool when you haven’t spent any time familiarizing yourself with proper stroke techniques. Koan’s Calm cordial is an excellent cannabis product choice for new users to ease into combining cannabis and meditation. Additionally, Koan’s Balance cordial is typically recommended as the next step in increasing your dosage and their Wonder cordial is often touted as the final step for experienced users who are seeking a deeper enlightenment during meditation.
  1. Proper Timing – Another reason it is important to understand how your body responds to cannabis products is because of the variation in timing of onset of action or simply, how long it takes you to feel the effects of cannabis after consumption. This too is a factor that is unique to an individual. Although this is largely based on the form factor of the cannabis product you use, other variables like diet, genetics, and metabolism also play a role. Spend some time familiarizing yourself with how long it takes to feel your cannabis product post-consumption before trying to incorporate it into your meditation. There’s nothing worse than prepping for a productive meditation session with cannabis only to realize that your timing was off, and the effects of your cannabis were felt too soon or too late.
  1. Setting and Intent – If you’ve spent even five minutes studying meditation techniques, chances are that you’ve come across something describing the importance of establishing setting and intent prior to any meditative session. This may be a confusing concept for those new to the practice, but it is as simple as mentally recognizing and acknowledging the space around you (taking into account things like sounds, smells, taste, feeling, etc.). This will help you become immersed in your setting and will lessen the chance that you become distracted mid-practice. Equally important is establishing your intent. In other words, what do you want to get out of your meditation session? Establishing intent doesn’t have to be complicated or intricate. It can be as simple as, “I want to spend 20 minutes freeing my mind of the day’s stressors”.

As more research and anecdotal reports become available, it is becoming exceedingly easy to see that there is a significant potential for a symbiotic relationship between cannabis and meditation. If you find yourself intrigued and wanting to explore the possibilities for yourself, just remember that meditation is a chance for you to delve deeper into your own psyche. It isn’t a race or competition to see who is the best, but instead is an opportunity that each human shares to better grasp the intricate nature of our own brains. The more an individual is capable of doing this, the easier it becomes to navigate their journey through life.

This article is for informational purposes only and not to be used as medical advice. Please speak with a medical professional before making any changes to your diet, medications, or daily routine. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
References:

  1. https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/9783110812060.247/html
  2. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/01/02/meditation-is-common-across-many-religious-groups-in-the-u-s/
  3. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation-in-depth
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28599212/
  5. https://www.pocketmindfulness.com/understanding-monkey-mind-live-harmony-mental-companion/
  6. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00213-017-4648-z
  7. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/5946075_Relationships_between_mindfulness_practice_and_levels_of_mindfulness_medical_and_psychological_symptoms_and_well-being_in_a_mindfulness-based_stress_reduction_program
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31481004/