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Meditating With Cannabis

A Personal Perspective: How cannabis helps me understand my complex mind.

As with everyone, each and every day that passes solidifies a structural context of what our lives encompass. We become prone to complacency regarding our "ways" and very seldom do we have the wherewithal to question ourselves about the slightest minutia. So it is with invisible disabilities.

Struggling is my baseline, my normal. In the past, I believed a “bad” day would consist of an all-out war, and a “good” day would encompass a few bouts with my symptoms, with a decent amount of rest in between these fights.

I am now beginning to realize that even on a “good” day, when I am resting somewhat peacefully, I am still fighting, for I know nothing else. The symptoms of my autism, OCD, and bipolar II, along with past experiences of trauma and pain that have conditioned my sense of self, are akin to weeds that have wound their way throughout the foundation of my existence. The more my identity is built on this foundation, the faster these weeds spread to become intrinsic and unconscious elements of how I operate.

I have always been introspective; my intellect tends to shine the bright light of awareness into the crevices of my existential ignorance, yet this often leads to rumination; although intellect can be superb in discovering voids within ourselves, it often leaves us with nothing to fill that void. Much like ego, intellect can be a double-edged sword.

My awareness and acceptance of how my mind works and doesn’t work, has increased exponentially. For this, I am vehemently proud of myself. I have always been proud of who I am and what I have (and continue to) overcome, yet seldom did I feel proud. To know is to be aware; to feel is to process and integrate this awareness. The latter of which I now have a deep appreciation for.

There have been two key components that have accompanied me on this journey: meditation and cannabis.

Meditation is socially accepted and encouraged. It has even become a trend of sorts, which is unfortunate, for sincerely practicing the art of sitting comes from within. Our motivation and curiosity to learn more about our mind’s ways are at their highest once we realize that our intellect can only take us so far.

Cannabis, on the other hand, is still wrought with social stigmas. I know these too well. In the past, I adhered to these misconceptions and frowned upon the use of it. We tend to apply stigmas as band-aids to things that we are unconsciously afraid of; there is no greater fear to humans than the unknown, and I admit, with hindsight, that I was biased against cannabis before I knew anything about it.

However, in late 2020, after the pandemic hit and with no clear end in sight, I researched more about this plant. I had taken edibles before, in emergency situations such as a major depressive episode, yet all they did was sedate me and give me the munchies. Any rabbit hole I was in is where I would remain, but the edibles did tend to prevent me from ruminating and catastrophizing further. When I began my research, I learned that smoking cannabis flower had significantly more benefits to mental health than edibles. Yes, obviously inhaling smoke is not the best thing for your lungs, but this concern of mine was offset when I learned more about the process.

In short, cannabis flower is much more straightforward than edibles; you know what you’re getting and what effects it will have on your mind and body. Flower purchased from dispensaries have what’s called a terpene profile, and without getting into the weeds (pun intended), each terpene has different mental and physical effects. Thus, flower brings a customized approach to your health needs, whereas edibles tend to lack terpene profiles; you never know what you’re getting aside from sedation or a sense of excitement and creativity. Additionally, smoking cannabis is the quickest way to feel the effects of the plant (typically within 5-10 minutes), while edibles can take upwards of an hour to enter your bloodstream.

I do not smoke to escape reality, but rather to process reality. When I am high I immediately gain a broader perspective on what it means to be human and am able to look back at my usual sober state with more objective hindsight, which I can then generate into foresight. I am able to examine “my ways” externally and realize what aspects of my life are being controlled by certain thoughts, emotions, or diagnoses (autism, OCD, PTSD). Physically, seconds after smoking I can feel my entire body start to release tension, and prior to my use of cannabis I was completely unaware of how tense I am in my natural state. Even when I am quite relaxed, when I get high I am always astounded at how mentally, emotionally, and physically rigid I was just moments before. In short, cannabis makes my invisible disabilities and struggles visible; I cannot overstate how much healing this has brought me.

Throughout the entirety of my life, I have often sought a reason behind my daily struggles and episodes of deep suffering. As mentioned above, my intellect would search for the cause behind every effect, with little luck. This lack of context festers within me, creating a deep, open wound of frustration and grief, for when I am unconscious of the root of my struggles, closure is nowhere to be found, which only exacerbates the pain and hinders the possibility of processing and accepting my state of mind.

Cannabis, however, reads aloud to me the untold stories of my “whys”. I am able to inspect, with an external and objective outlook, not just the deep-seated symptoms of my disabilities, but also my social and emotional deficits, cognitive biases, aspects of my conditioning.

If cannabis has made me realize one thing: I live an existential paradox, and when I'm high, although things become clearer, they also become more complex. Perhaps the only thing I'm unaware of is my hyper-awareness; many of my perceptions are deeply embedded within me, it is difficult to be cognizant of them, and then I wonder why at times I can't function. I become so overwhelmed and bogged down by all the stimuli, yet only notice this when I "crack." It's as if I am yelling "it's too loud." Yet at the same time, I cannot hear anything, for the silence is deafening.

This slow leak of emotional congestion is so subtle that I am oftentimes not aware that my sensory processes are “backed up.” This leads to significant challenges in my emotional regulation, clarity of mind, and rational thinking, resulting in a considerable lack of functioning ability.

Yet another tremendous benefit of cannabis: Now I use this plant as a vehicle to not only purge out all the congestion within me in a preventive fashion but also to examine the clogged emotional and mental obstructions on their way out of my system. It is a beautifully painful and cleansing experience, as you can see from this recent post.

Cannabis has also been an instrumental component of deepening my meditative practices. Implementing various perspectives I receive when high not only broadens my view of the human condition but also tends to blow out any cobwebs in my mind. All of my preconceived notions, defense mechanisms, past traumatic experiences, mental and emotional constructs that typically lay firmly upon the foundation of my identity are shaken up into the air and left to gently float back down while I examine them with wonder, much like a child shaking their first snow globe. I am grateful for these experiences, and supplementing my cannabis use with meditative practices, and vice versa, has spurred tremendous healing, awareness, and genuine self-love.

Some may call me a stoner or pothead, adhering to the social stigmas surrounding cannabis that are still so prevalent, and that is fine. I have always accepted the challenge of dismantling stereotypes and eroding stigmas. Whatever one may choose to call me or think of me, let me be absolutely clear: cannabis has benefited my life in remarkable ways that I cannot even come close to describing. It may very well not have this effect on others, and with anything in life, has the potential to lead some down a more treacherous path.

However, this plant is a vehicle not only for my personal growth and self-acceptance but for compassion and acceptance for all others as well. When we raise our levels of consciousness we tend to nurture the spiritual aspect of unity, as opposed to living in a constant and separate dualistic state of mind. We are all one; interwoven as threads on the quilt of existence, incapable of judging or comparing. Meditating with cannabis use has guided my way towards this realization, and for those who may still frown upon my personal journey with this plant, I have faith that one day they too will find themselves on this path of simple serenity by whatever means they choose to get there.

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