MEDITATION: WHAT, WHY AND HOW?
Meditation is an exercise by which you awaken consciousness. This form of mental training requires you to guide your mind to a focus point. During meditation, the psyche tends to wander off into bizarre and repetitive thoughts. This concept is called rumination. However, meditation does not require you to sit in pure tranquility. It’s about recognizing the rumination, being aware of the distraction and returning to the present. This is a bit like strength training. Every time you lift a weight, your body adapts by increasing the size of the muscle fibers. Thus it is better able to deal with the stimuli. Each time you notice your mind wandering, reducing the focus to the present changes the structure of your brain over time.
Harvard University conducted research on this. The researchers discovered important elements of how meditation affects our brains and its psychological effects. During the study, magnetic resonance images were taken of participants’ brain structure before and after an eight-week program of meditation. These images showed an increased density of gray matter in the hippocampus. This part of the brain is associated with learning and memory. One also saw a higher density in areas related to self-awareness, compassion and introspection. On the other hand, there was a decreased compactness of gray matter in the amygdala. This region plays a role in fear, stress and the fight-or-flight response. In addition, further research 1 suggests that meditation leads to improvements in depression, anxiety and pain. It induces a sense of inner peace and patience, but thus also helps patients struggling with these conditions. Meditation is thus a simple, relaxing practice and worth trying.
PSYCHEDELICS AND MEDITATION
It may seem that psychedelics and meditation are completely opposite. Psychedelic drugs possess the ability to give the user vivid, sometimes chaotic, visionary experiences. These often pull the mind out of the present and take it on a hallucinogenic journey. The goal of meditation, however, is to give up excessive sensory stimuli and focus the psyche on a specific thing, such as breathing. Although the two experiences sound opposite, they sometimes benefit from each other. Possibly, the results are even similar. Psychedelics enjoy a rich history within different cultures around the world. They seem to be an integral part of almost every indigenous community. Scholars, such as Terence McKenna, have even advocated the idea that they played a fundamental role in the evolution of the human brain. Regardless of any theory, some of these substances seem to target the same brain areas or mental pathologies as meditation. A study 2 was published in The Lancet Psychiatry on this subject. 12 patients with moderate to severe depression received capsules containing a psychoactive psilocybin mushroom. One week after treatment, 8 of the 12 patients showed temporary remission. 3 months later, 7 patients still showed improved symptoms. These effects can be attributed to the influence of psilocybin on the default network (DMN) known within neuroscience. This network consists of regions in the center of the brain. It is active when a person is thinking about themselves or rumination. Psilocybin appears to be effective at regulating this area, which may be helpful for people who have constant, negative thoughts about themselves. Dr. David Nutt, who came up with the theory, claims 3: “psilocybin may also work for depression by replacing missing serotonin through acting on the same receptors as the mood-regulating neurotransmitter.” Reducing the activity of the default network is also a feature of meditation. A paper 4, published in the journal Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, states that meditation has been associated with reduced self-related thinking and wandering thoughts. In addition to the similar effects on brain chemistry, psychedelics and meditation may also go hand in hand when it comes to the resulting experience. “Set” and “setting,” for example, are the two most important parameters when it comes to preparing for an optimal psychedelic trip. “Setting” refers to the immediate environment and “set” refers to the individual’s thought process. Someone who has meditated is more likely to experience a “good trip” because of the increased amount of gray matter. Similarly, less gray matter in the amygdala possibly reduces the fear response and panic of a “wrong” trip. There is no solid scientific support for this theory, but meditating may make you calm before tripping. In this regard, it does not matter whether you are tripping on ayahuasca, magic mushrooms, salvia, mescaline or acid.
CANNABIS AND MEDITATION
Cannabis and meditation support each other. Most cannabis users will confirm that the herb keeps the mind in the present. This often results in laser-like focus and creative thoughts. Meditation is not easy. It is especially difficult after a long and stressful day. Under these circumstances, cannabis is an excellent tool. The herb helps the mind stay in the present, while stress and rumbling thoughts disappear. Normally, these distract from meditation. The two main sub-species of cannabis, indica and sativa, are known for their opposite effects. We know that indica’s mainly generate a stoned effect that affects the body. Sativas are especially loved for their stimulating effects on the mind. Both sub-species are useful for meditation. They act either as physical anchors or mental motivators. Below we list three cannabis strains that are ideal for a meditation session.
THE BEST CANNABIS STRAINS FOR MEDITATION
1. NORTHERN LIGHT BLUE AUTO
Northern Light Blue Auto is an indica-dominant cross that is ideal for meditation. A few puffs of this lady help the mind break through repetitive thought patterns and get into the now. The indica-dominant genes deliver a high that focuses primarily on the body. This results in a heavy sensation that is both comforting and relaxing. The high comes on quickly and lingers for a fairly long time. Thanks to 18% THC, the effects are clear, but not to the point of being overwhelming or mentally distracting. Each puff of Northern Light Blue Auto is enriched with terpenes that infuse the smoke with hints of blueberries, raspberries and strawberries. Northern Light Blue Auto produces a fine, personal stash of up to 500g/m². The turnaround time is only 55-65 days. Thanks to its height of around 80cm, it is easily manageable and ideal when discretion is important. View Northern Light Blue Auto
2. BLUE DREAM
Blue Dream is quite different from Northern Light Blue Auto, but the high is about as intense. The THC percentage is 18%. This specimen is sativa-dominant and developed in California. The parents are Blueberry and Haze. The high comes on quickly, with stimulating and cognitive effects. The experience provides laser-like focus and attention to detail. With these properties, you enhance the meditative experience. It minimizes the chance of distraction and makes prolonged sitting easy and enjoyable. In addition, this pleasant high is accompanied by flavors of lemon and earth. Blue Dream develops large and slender buds, which are decorated with a thick layer of resin-producing trichomes. She spoils growers with hefty, rewarding yields after a flowering period of about 65-70 days. View Blue Dream
3. LOW BUDGAH
Laughing Buddha has a name that refers to the nature of its high. This sativa-dominant lady produces exclusively good vibes that rise directly to your sphere. The warm, positive and stimulating effects make every second of meditation pure indulgence. The body enjoys a light, pleasant state. The buds are rich in aromatic terpenes and offer flavors and aromas of sweet fruits. A little CBD adds just a little more clarity and relaxation to the high. This award-winning strain was created from a breeding project with Thai and Jamaican strains. Laughing Buddha is capable of producing an impressive haul of 600g/m² indoors. She grows to a height of about 50-100cm in the process. After 70-75 days, get ready to rake in a big haul of fragrant buds. Check out Laughing Buddha
HERBS FOR MEDITATION
Cannabis is a unique herb, but it’s not the only plant that supports meditation. These three herbs, ideal in a fresh cup of tea, can also be used to relax your mind before your exercise.
Passionflower is a beautiful plant. She produces flowers with stunning white, purple and red petals. She also develops a stigma, ovary and anthers, which come together in an almost alien structure. This climbing plant is native to the southeastern United States and Central and South America. The plant produces mild narcotic effects capable of calming the mind. This effect 5 occurs due to chemical compounds that bind to the GABA neuron in the brain. This calming effect makes the herb an ideal ally for meditation. View Passionflower
Sage is an herb that people use a lot in spiritual practices. The scientific name of this evergreen dwarf shrub is Salvia officinalis. The plant is a member of the mint family and native to the Mediterranean region. The herb is often found in the kitchen, where it usually adds flavor to a variety of dishes along with rosemary and thyme. Sage is bursting with various natural chemicals, including phenolic acids, flavonoids, terpenoids and polysaccharides. Several chemicals from these umbrella groups potentially improve brain health and functioning. This makes sage a great herb to use during meditation. In a review 7 published in the journal Drugs in R&D, we read how some of these constituents have cognitive enhancing and protective effects. This is partly due to increasing neutrophils; chemicals that regulate brain function.
Most people are familiar with the warmth and comfortable feeling of a refreshing cup of chamomile tea. Chamomile is a daisy-like plant that offers several benefits for practicing meditation and life in general. The calmness and relaxation you experience after consuming the chemicals from this herb may arise from its anxiety-inhibiting effects. We do not know exactly how these effects come about, but possibly 8 the flavonoids exert influence on the neurotransmission of GABA, norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin. View Chamomile All of these herbs are worth trying. However, it is important to be aware of possible interactions with other medications and side effects. Always do research before consumption. If you have any questions, consult with your doctor.
USING INCENSE FOR MEDITATION
The finishing touch that enhances your relaxation during the meditation session. Frankincense is a vegetable substance that, when burned, spreads pleasant scents in the air. It smells fantastic and, in addition, it awakens calming vibes that bring the body back to the present. Some consider burning incense a “hippie activity,” but its use is scientifically based. This is especially true of the original form, frankincense. Frankincense or olibanum is the resin of Boswellia. The smoke released from this resin when burned results in changes in brain activity after inhalation. This form of incense is even said to be psychoactive 9. Frankincense activates ion channels in the brain and thus is able to help relieve anxiety and depression. Of course, inhaling too much smoke is not wise in the long run. It is also possible to induce these calming effects with essential oils or e-juice. A popular and calming form of incense is nag champa. This type is based on sandalwood and provides a great atmosphere during meditation.
MEDITATION: WITH OR WITHOUT ADDITIVES
Meditation is what you make of it. You may not need additional aids to practice it, but the above herbs and natural ingredients are able to help enhance the experience in various ways. It’s up to you to find out which one suits you best!