Let’s be honest. It’s a pretty scary time for just about everyone right now. Cities are shutting down, schools are shutting down, and a lot of people are somewhat isolated in this chapter of social distancing. And with all this uncertainty, anxiety is maxing out for many of us.
There isn’t much any of us can do to stop the coronavirus or save the world from an impending apocalypse. But we can work on taking care of ourselves and bringing our stress levels down so that we can stay calm, healthy, aware, and able to help out where we can.
So how can we help bring down our anxiety and become more resilient to the high level of stress we deal with? A straightforward way is to start a regular mindfulness meditation practice – and adding cannabis, or its active terpenes to your practice can give it an added boost.
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How Meditation Helps Reduce Stress
When it comes to reducing your stress, meditation can be a big help. Research shows that mindfulness-based meditations – or meditations aimed at noticing what’s happening in your body and the world around you – can make a big difference in your levels of stress. Studies have found that even someone’s first session of meditation can reduce the amount of anxiety they experience in response to stressors 1 later in the day. Long term practice with meditation can reduce daily symptoms of anxiety2 and help to maintain more calm regularly. So, whether you are trying to calm down from stress, prepare for an anticipated stressful event, or cultivate more resilience to stress in general, meditation can be a massive resource.
Related Article: CBD and Terpene Combinations for Stress Relief
Adding Cannabis To Your Meditation
Meditation on its own can be significant. But adding cannabis can also be a big help because many of cannabis’ active ingredients also have stress-relieving properties. For example, CBD – a common cannabinoid in cannabis – can reduce anxiety and create more resilience to stress. In one study, patients with a social anxiety disorder were asked to give a speech in public3. Those given a hefty dose of CBD before the speech reported significantly less anxiety, cognitive impairment, and discomfort in their speech performance than those who were given a placebo. This suggests CBD can make a big difference in your anxiety levels and help prevent anxiety in response to stressful situations.
Anxiety Reducing Terpenes
In addition, some of cannabis’ terpenes (the chemicals responsible for the smell and taste of cannabis) are also quite relaxing. For example, the terpene linalool is especially prized for its calming properties. This terpene is not only found in cannabis but also in plants like lavender and mint, which are known for their calming aroma. Beta-caryophyllene, a terpene found in cannabis and black pepper, is another terpene known to relieve anxiety4 and can also help with pain. Myrcene, a terpene found in both cannabis and mango, is known for its calming abilities and is also somewhat sedative5.
Anyone of these ingredients in the cannabis plant, or a blend of all of them, could be a helpful addition to your meditation practice, bringing it to the next level of calm and resilience.
Starting an Anti-Anxiety Meditation Practice
So how does one get started meditating? Meditation can feel intimidating at first, but it’s actually a straightforward practice.
Designate a Space
To get started, you’ll want to designate a space in your home where you can meditate daily while using your cannabis. This doesn’t need to be anything fancy. Still, ideally, this would be somewhere where you can sit comfortably and won’t be disturbed by others. Or if you don’t have any completely private spaces, you should at least ask that those sharing the area give you some time where they won’t try to interact with you.
Set a Time
You’ll also want to set a regular time of day that works for you. Any time can work, but it’s best to do it at a time that will be easy to commit to regularly. For many, this is right after they wake up in the morning or right before bed at night. Still, others find a mid-day break can help to reset their mood on a bad day.
Take Your Canna
Before you get started with your meditation session, take your cannabis. Then, take some time to make sure you are comfortable in your space and sitting in a posture that will be comfortable for the duration of your session. It helps to set a timer. For beginners, a 10-15 minute session is a great place to start, but you can meditate for as long or as short as works for you. The longer you meditate, the more benefit you are likely to receive, but even a short session can help.
After you start your timer, you’ll be sitting silently until it goes off – simply noticing. Contrary to popular belief, the idea with meditation isn’t to shut off all your thoughts and bliss out (although some find moments where they experience this in meditation). Instead of the goal, it is to be present with your experience of the moment – which might be pleasant but also might be painful or full of emotion.
We can keep our awareness present by shifting our awareness away from our busy thoughts and onto our felt experience of the moment. Our thoughts will always be there in the background, which is totally fine. That said, we don’t have to pay so much attention to them all the time. One way to do this is to continue bringing our attention to a particular aspect of our experience as a focus.
You can rest your awareness on your breath – going in and out of your body. Or you can spend your time noticing the sensations present in your body, or you let your focus rest on the noises that you can hear in your environment. Whatever you choose as your focus, continually (and kindly) bring your awareness back to it whenever you notice it drifting back to your thoughts – which will probably be a commonplace occurrence.
Simply rest in this sense of present moment awareness until your timer goes off, trying not to judge yourself if you feel like you’re thinking the whole time – or if it doesn’t feel relaxing. Then notice how your anxiety feels for the rest of the day. You may be surprised at how even one session of meditation can have an impact on your stress for the rest of the day.