The Essence of Mindfulness
Mindfulness has become something of a buzzword lately, so what is it exactly?
Mindfulness is a rebranding of a meditation technique in which you attempt to maintain a present-state awareness on what is happening right NOW. Notice the use of the word “attempt” because this is actually rather difficult.
It is a practice, not an end-goal.
If you are walking, you are aware that you are walking, your mind is paying attention to the sensations in your feet, the touch of the breeze, the smells, the infinite shades of color.
If you are washing dishes, your mind is on washing the dishes. Not on that TPX report you have to get done tomorrow, or your parents’ health problems, or what you should have said to the driver of that blue Prius. Just the dishes.
You are here. Right now. With this moment.
Being in the here and now is the essence of mindfulness.
Health Benefits of Mindfulness
It seems pretty straightforward and ordinary, but mindfulness actually comes with a whole gamut of health benefits. It has been shown to lower stress hormone levels, reduce anxiety, activate the parasympathetic nervous system (the “chill out” part of the nervous system), and reduce inflammation, among others.
In fact, mindfulness meditation is considered just as beneficial as conventional therapy and is increasingly prescribed by doctors and mental health professionals.
Commonalities with Cannabis
In the description of mindfulness, any seasoned smoker will recognize an element of the cannabis experience: total absorption in The Moment, an attention to sensory detail, or slowing down of time.
Just being here. Doing this thing, whatever it is. Right. Now.
Interestingly, cannabis can, depending on the strain, have similar physiological effects as mindfulness meditation: lowering stress hormones, reducing anxiety, and lowering inflammation.
Using Cannabis as a Tool for Mindfulness
These two tools, Cannabis and Mindfulness, are both powerful in their own ways and can be used to enhance each other.
Mindfulness has the potential to bring your cannabis experience to a higher level, to sublimate the stoned revelry into a purer experience of the ever-present moment.
And vice versa, cannabis can also help you with meditation. Sometimes meditation practices can be difficult to get into and really find the groove, to feel “what it’s all about.” Cannabis can help you over these initial hurdles and help you connect with the meaning of the practice. It can unlock the power and the beauty contained within the moment and deepen your practice of mindfulness.
Now, if you are to get any real synergistic benefit from combining these two practices, the 5 W’s are an excellent guide to a positive experience.
This means: Where you are; What you are doing; and, Who you are with. The Why is also important, and here it is to have a mindful experience of cannabis. The How (the honorary 5th “W”) is mindfulness itself.
Choose all of these intentionally.
Go to nature, whatever feels good for you, alone or with good friends. Or maybe take a bath with your favorite music and fresh strawberries. Do something enriching that makes you feel good and lets you keep your mind on the ceaseless stream of present-moment sensations.
On a final note, special care must be taken with the strain of cannabis. Different strains can affect people differently, so it helps to know what you like. Sativa strains can exacerbate anxiety in some people. Some indica-dominant strains are incapacitating.
Know how you react to them and choose wisely! And if you’re not sure, just come in and ask one of our knowledgeable bud tenders!