Quieting Mental Chatter with Cannabis and Mindfulness

Quieting the Monkey Mind
with Cannabis and MindfulnessMind chatter is a constant for everyone.  In yoga it’s often referred to as chitta vritti which means monkey mind or mind fluctuations. The monkey mind is the repetitive internal narrator that roams from one thought to the next whether you choose to engage it or not. It jumps from the day’s to-do list to irrational fears, worries about what already happened and a laundry list of nightmarish things that might happen in the imaginary future. The monkey mind rarely spends time in the present moment unless it is judging it or fantasizing on how things could be different.

Asana, meditation, and pranayama practice are all aimed towards quieting these fluctuations of the mind to reach samadhi, “a still mind”, which happens when you’re completely engaged in what you’re doing; there are no thoughts of anything else, and time disappears. Cannabis has also been used for thousands of years to facilitate entering this trance-like state of absolute awareness. Whatever the external causes, stress is often fueled by your thoughts and constant mind fluctuations. The mind can even create stress worrying about problems that almost certainly won’t happen.

When you immerse yourself in every instance of mind chatter you can never fully be in the present moment. You don’t hear what your friend or partner just said. You don’t fully appreciate the taste of food. You may not even be aware of how lost you are in your internal world of thought until you try to sit still and be present.

One of the most common reasons I hear as to why people don’t want to meditate or do yoga is because they can’t quiet their mind. This makes as much sense as someone saying they don’t want to eat because they’re hungry. Quieting mind chatter helps us stay focused in the present moment and also affects the way we see and perceive situations, which is much more true to reality when we don’t add extra narratives.

When you feel the monkey mind working overtime and want to find stillness and calm, try some of these methods, but remember to be humble with your expectations. Noticing mind chatter and then attempting to slow it down takes practice and it’s easy to fall into frustration when (not if) your mind wanders and give up thinking, “I’m terrible at being mindful!”. Practice, be compassionate with yourself, and observe without judgment.

1. Breath Counting

Breath counting creates a gentle focus for the mind, anchors you to the present, and promotes smooth, deep breathing.

Find a comfortable seated position or lay down (if you know you won’t fall asleep) and bring one hand to your stomach and the other to your heart. Let your body be fully supported in whatever posture you choose.

Notice the natural flow of your breath for a few cycles.

Take a deep inhale through your nose, counting 5-4-3-2-1.

Pause with your lungs full.

Slowly exhale through your nose, 5-4-3-2-1.

Pause when you’re empty.

Soften and release anything that’s working, slowly repeating this breath (feeling free to mentally count it to bring more focus to your mind).

It’s okay if thoughts still persist for your attention, this isn’t about emptying your mind.

Acknowledge any thoughts that creep up. Notice thoughts without judgement, then gently bring your attention back to the ebb and flow of your life giving breath.

Stay with the practice for 2 to 5 minutes.

“When the breath wanders the mind also is unsteady. But when the breath is calmed the mind too will be still, and the yogi achieves long life. Therefore, one should learn to control the breath.”

~ Svatmarama, Hatha Yoga Pradipika

2. Meditation on the breath

This is a technique I pulled and adapted from a great book, Yoga As Medicine by Timothy McCall MD.

Set yourself up in comfortable seated position. If you’re feeling particularly mind racy, gently cover your eyes with the heels of your hands to bring focus inward.

Start to follow the movement of your breath, without making any effort to change it.

Notice the sound of breath flowing in and out.

Notice the air as it brushes the insides of your nose.

Pay attention to the entire inhalation right up until it ends and an exhalation starts.

Tune in to the exact moment of transition.

Focus on the fine details of how the breath feels in your nostrils and listen to the sound it makes.

Notice if the in breath and out breath are equally smooth and of similar length.

If you notice that your attention has wavered, simply return your focus to the breath.

Stay with the practice for 2 to 5 minutes.

“The mind and breath are like two fish in a school; when one moves, the other moves. If our mind is agitated, our breath is short and choppy. If the breath is short and choppy, the mind becomes agitated. However, if we slow the breath down and breathe more deeply, the mind also slows down.”

~ Bernie Clark, The Philosophy & Practice of Yin Yoga

 

3. Add an indica strain to your meditation

Indicas bring more awareness to your body than your mind, and also have more CBD than sativa strains making them more relaxing. Sativas can magnify your thoughts and the speed in which they enter your mind, so stay away from them for this exercise.

If you’re in a space where you can comfortably consume and have more time, smoke an indica dominant strain (smoking is the best method for monitoring your high) and try the breath counting meditation.

Notice the expansive sensations in your head as the high starts to settle in.

Allow that expansiveness to create space for thoughts to come and leave, not being held in your mind.

Slowly count 5-4-3-2-1 with your in and out breath.

Stay with the practice for 2 to 5 minutes.

4.Practice non-attachment

We know the mind will have fluctuations, so avoid getting caught up in labeling every thought that pops up. Let thoughts come and go like a child attempting to interrupt a conversation for attention. Gently and kindly acknowledge the child is there, maybe even rub their head, then usher them on without them necessarily affecting the integrity of the conversation. Non-attachment doesn’t mean not feeling or listening to what comes up, it means having nonjudgmental awareness of thoughts as they arise without having to cling to or change them.

5. Journal

Writing thoughts down can be a good way clear mental clutter. Your mind chatter might be trying to tell you something, so don’t shut it up! Notice whether you’re feeling worried, resentment, holding onto something that didn’t seem to bother you but is suddenly popping up in your subconscious. This exercise won’t be for dissecting every thought, but will create physical space for those mind fluctuations and feelings to be acknowledged. The journaling sessions I’ve combined with a joint have been the most cathartic experiences I’ve had as there’s a sense of comfort, honesty, and deep relaxation around the process.

6. Try a Mindful Coloring Book

If you enjoy creativity, mindful coloring books immerse you in an engaging and positive outlet for your mind chatter. When you are focused on one thing, especially something fun, visually pleasing, creative, and with no right or wrong way to do it, there’s more opportunity to enjoy the present moment as the mind is occupied with one thing.

I personally love to light up a bowl as I color. Take a hit, set it aside, and let the creative juices flow without judgment as a hindrance. Mindful coloring is especially good if you want to fill leisurely time (where mind chatter might be at it’s highest) with a relaxing and focusing activity.

“The mind is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master.”

~ Robin Sharma


I hope you find these tools useful in taming your monkey mind through cannabis, mindfulness, and practice. Remember to be humble in your expectations and allow yourself to be human throughout the experience. Stay tuned via our mailing list or YouTube to receive a free medicated movement and meditation class to relax and release mind fluctuations next week!

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