Combining Cannabis and CBD with Meditation: A Beginner’s Guide

woman meditating on a dock

It is definitely not a new thing, combining cannabis and meditation, but it is something that is coming back into the limelight recently, especially as the stress-relieving and health benefits of both cannabis and meditation become clearer to the general public.

Practices of meditation have been around for thousands of years (there is literally Hindu documentation of meditation dating all the way back to 1500 BC), and the relaxing effects of cannabis seem to be a perfect fit for meditation, right? The answer is a little more complex, as cannabis' effects vary from person to person, and can be dependent upon strain and dosage. Too much or the wrong strain for a person can actually increase anxiety.

If you have started meditating and are wondering how you can deepen your practice, or vice versa - you have started to use cannabis for relaxation and are hoping to maximize its effects, or simply increase your sense of well-being, you're in the right place. In this blog, we are going to, well, meditate (we had to use that pun, sorry) on all things meditation and cannabis. 

Key Takeaways

  • Combining cannabis with meditation may enhance your mindfulness practice, deepening states of relaxation and connection with oneself. 
  • Cannabis mixed with meditation may have health benefits, including reduced stress, improved sleep, and minimized pain.
  • Knowing how to incorporate cannabis into your meditation practice effectively can optimize the benefits and potential of both.

What is Meditation, Anyway?

Meditation, as we illuded to above, has been around for a while!! It is an ancient practice (debatably started as a Hinduism), that is a practice to train your focus, attention, and can have an end goal of achieving enlightenment. Today, however, more westerners have taken up the practice to simply improve focus, lessen stress, and achieve more equanimity in their lives (with no spiritual goals involved). 

While there are many different types of meditation, from mindfulness to breath-counting, loving-kindness meditations, to a type called transcendental meditation (in which you repeat a mantra), all have a focal point in which you repeatedly return your mind to when you inevitably get distracted. For more on meditation types and guides, check out this Harvard link.

What Happens When You Combine Weed and Meditation?

Cannabis has been used in spiritual and medicinal practices for thousands of years, and its effects on mindfulness and meditation can be profound. 

While research has yet to thoroughly uncover the positive mental and physical effects of meditation alone, most agree its benefits lie in meditation's ability to calm the brain's default mode network (DMN). The slowing of this network is associated with a sense of expanded perspective, where the mind is at ease and less easily disrupted. This experience aligns with the effects of many cannabis products, especially those containing CBD.

Cannabis' psychoactive properties, including THC and CBD, work alone to enhance mindfulness and create an open awareness of the present moment. It makes sense that when weed and meditation are combined, the two can deepen the meditative experience, making it more immersive and potentially more beneficial.

Benefits of Cannabis on Meditation

Alright, let's dig into the meat of the topic here. Can cannabis and meditation work together in a synergistic way? While there is no hard evidence supporting that cannabis and meditation work better together, we can look at and understand both the benefits and risks, so you can make an informed decision for the person that matters most - you!

For many, cannabis (particularly when used in small doses, also referred to as microdoses) can reduce stress and enhance relaxation. It can also make someone more introspective (speaking from experience here). Cannabis may also reduce pain, which could allow one to sit in a meditative posture for longer periods of time.

On the flip side, cannabis is definitely not for everyone. THC in particular can spike feelings of anxiety in some, which is obviously not something you want before or during meditation practices. So, to make a complex answer short: cannabis, for some, and in small doses may enhance relaxation and pair well with meditation. Everyone is different, however, and especially with cannabis it is important to tread lightly, starting with low doses to see how your body responds.

Enhanced Focus

Cannabis, particularly especially CBD-containing products, possesses properties that can create a tranquil and focused state, which can help maintain prolonged meditation. Cannabis can also potentially aid in achieving a meditative state more quickly.  

Anxiety-relieving Effects

Studies have shown cannabis can have anxiolytic – anti-anxiety – properties that can assist in reducing stress and anxiety levels. By integrating cannabis into your meditation practices, you can potentially ease mental and emotional tensions that would otherwise distract or detract from a peaceful, mindful state.

Increased Sensory Awareness

Certain strains of cannabis, particularly those with high THC levels, have the potential to enhance sensory perception. This heightened awareness can lead to more profound meditation sessions, allowing individuals to delve deeper into their sensory experiences and the present moment. 

Deeper Relaxation

Marijuana is widely recognized for its soothing and muscle-relaxing effects. When appropriately used, it can provide relaxation and tranquility and make it easier for people to transition into a meditative state. Cannabis may also allow a deeper examination of one's inner self during meditation to become possible.

Discomfort Relief

In almost every medical marijuana state, chronic pain is a qualifying condition for legal use. Cannabis has been proven to ease pain, which could be especially helpful for those who experience discomfort when trying to sit for lengthy meditation sessions or certain meditative poses. 

Increased Insight and Creativity

Particular marijuana strains, including sativas with higher levels of CBD, can heighten introspection and improve creativity. Cannabis' enhances meditation's natural ability to uncover new thoughts and lines of thinking, which could be helpful for those whose meditative practice includes using their imagination or focusing on solving a problem. 

Sleep Support

Marijuana, especially indica strains, can be highly relaxing and well-suited to combating insomnia. Those who meditate also report an overall improved sleep experience that's more restful and easier to achieve. Combining the two can create a virtuous circle where sleep improves from weed and meditation, and meditation sessions become more beneficial thanks to better sleep.

How to Meditate Using Cannabis

The steps below are for smoking or vaping flower in particular, and different consumption methods, such as edibles or tinctures, require using your product anywhere from 15-30 minutes to 90 minutes before you want to meditate.

  1. Find a space or room where you can sit quietly and undisturbed for at least 20 minutes, though some meditation practices can go much longer.
  2. Sit on a cushion on the floor with your legs crossed. Some practitioners use a chair to sit straight upright with their feet planted on the floor or lie on their backs, supporting their heads with a pillow.
  3. With your cannabis flower close at hand, set a timer for 10 minutes.
  4. Slowly focus on your breath, inhale for a few seconds, hold for a few seconds, then exhale deeply. Allow yourself to relax, and continue breathing until the timer goes off.
  5. While breathing, do a slow body scan, mentally mapping out each part of your body for any tension. If you feel some, gently breathe and exhale the stress out of your body. Don't try to control your breath; simply observe it and allow any distracting thoughts to slip away.
  6. Once the timer goes off, it's time to incorporate your cannabis. Take one or two hits – depending on your desired dose – and then set the timer for 10 minutes.
  7. Train your awareness on how you feel the high enter your system, including noticing any shifts in breathing or how you feel. Don't judge - simply notice and observe.
  8. After 10 minutes, you can take another dose and continue or end your session. Be careful getting to your feet, as you may be more intoxicated than you realize.

How to Incorporate CBD into Your Practice

No matter what your practice looks like, incorporating CBD can help you get the most out of your session. Here are some ideas for getting started:

Try a Class!

Becoming more and more popular by the day, CBD yoga classes are popping up everywhere. They don’t differ too much from a typical yoga class, but participants are encouraged to take a bit of CBD beforehand. Oftentimes, these classes are led by CBD experts too, who can explain the use and benefits for beginners. If you are a novice and looking to try it in a supportive and healthy environment, a class may be a perfect fit.

Practice With Friends

Doing yoga with friends is already a great way to practice and have a fun time. Including CBD in a group yoga session can add an element of fun and excitement for everyone involved. After all, the only thing better than benefitting from this powerful combination yourself is sharing it with your friends!

Do a Solo Practice

Combine restorative movement, some solo time, and a little CBD for a mindful and peaceful practice. Bonus points if you set your yoga room up with some relaxing lighting, candles, and music you love. This is particularly great before bed – it will help you clear your head and get better sleep. You’ll wake up ready to crush the next day!

The Bottom Line

Combining cannabis and meditation can offer a unique pathway to heightened awareness and serenity. It's essential to understand how cannabis affects mindfulness and to incorporate it carefully into your meditation practices. 

When successfully mixed, these tools have the potential to enhance your introspective journey, leading to profound self-discovery and holistic well-being. Everyone's experience is individual, however, so it's important to experiment with the best dose, consumption method, and strain for your unique needs. 

FAQ

Is it Good to Meditate When You're High?

Many people find meditation while high to be a uniquely beneficial experience! When done mindfully and in a safe environment, it can help deepen your relaxation, focus, and overall mindfulness.

The heightened sensory awareness often brought on by cannabis can make it easier to connect with your breath and stay present in the moment. Just make sure you're comfortable, start with a clear intention, and listen to your body and mind. It’s all about finding what works best for you and ensuring that your experience remains positive and enriching. 

Is there a Spiritual Practice Involving Cannabis?

Absolutely, cannabis has a rich history of spiritual use in various cultures and traditions around the world! In some communities, it’s revered as a sacred plant that can enhance spiritual experiences and facilitate deeper connections with the divine. For instance, in ancient India, cannabis was consumed in ritual practices to honor Shiva, the Hindu god, encouraging a state of heightened awareness and enlightenment. Rastafarians also use cannabis as a sacrament to help deepen their worship and community bonds. Today, many people continue to explore cannabis as a tool for spiritual growth, using it to enhance meditation, yoga, and other mindful practices. It's all about creating a safe and respectful space where the plant can help guide you on your personal spiritual journey.

Does CBD Interfere with Meditation?

CBD shouldn't interfere with meditation, no! Many people who meditate find that CBD can actually benefit their practice. Because CBD can be relaxing and has the ability to reduce stress, when taken before meditation it can help to both settle your mind and deepen your focus, which will allow you stay calm and stay present. As with any cannabis product, and CBD is no exclusion to this, it is important to start with a low dosage to see how your body responds, and only increase (slowly) if needed.

Is Sativa Good for Meditation?

There are a couple types of common cannabis strains that are good to know - indica and sativa (and then there are hybrids which are a blend of both). While these are certainly not hard and fast rules, indicas tend to be more grounding and relaxing, and sativas can be more uplifting and can enhance feelings of creativity. This can make sativas a good combination if you are pursuing a more active type of meditation like yoga or a visualization technique.

References

1) Rusch HL, Rosario M, Levison LM, Olivera A, Livingston WS, Wu T, Gill JM. The effect of mindfulness meditation on sleep quality: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2019 Jun;1445(1):5-16. doi: 10.1111/nyas.13996. Epub 2018 Dec 21. PMID: 30575050; PMCID: PMC6557693.

2) https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/newsroom/news-releases/2024/04/researchers-show-chemical-found-naturally-in-cannabis-may-reduce-anxiety-inducing-effects-of-thc

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