3 Ways to Live Intentionally in 2018

_99O0723 (1)I hope you had a happy new year! In 2018 I’m making it a priority to live more intentionally.

Living intentionally means taking yourself off of auto-pilot and asking yourself why you do what you do. Why have you set a resolution to workout more, or travel? How do you imagine you’re going to feel once achieving those goals? Tuning into the why of our everyday, rather than following the status quo of our community and people around us, creates enormous space for intentional living, clarity, and present moment awareness.

Here are three ways I’ve been practicing intentional living this week, I invite you to do the same for a day, or week, or however long you feel called to.

  • Morning meditation and stretching: Wake up earlier than usual to allow time for a short meditation and/or a gentle stretch to check in with the state of your body and mind. Not only is this a much needed act of self-care, but starting your day with meditation brings clarity to the rest of your day, starts your morning with mindful intention which leads to other mindful decisions (big and small) throughout the day, and a short meditation and gentle yoga practice are a grounding way to keep yourself stress free.
  • Mindful meals: Regular meditation and yoga bring more innate awareness to your body and with it, more awareness of the effects that what you ingest has on your body. The most obvious way we see this is in our body is with food. High-fat “comfort” foods are easy for most people to choose, but cause lethargy and lessen our ability to cope with stress while healthier foods are energizing, stress relieving, nutritious, and boost our immune system. Pay attention to your meals and see if you can cut out one unhealthy food item a day and replace it with a plant-based whole food. Maybe even commit to one plant-based meal a day, a meal with foods derived from plants and little to no animal products.
  • Explore, don’t expect: Most of us have a desire for instant gratification. Expecting something for our actions is the reason why most people break their New Years resolution before the end of January. By approaching resolutions, and life, from a place of exploration and curiosity, rather than anticipation and expectation, we allow ourselves to fully enjoy the process, let go of perceived end goals, and decrease disappointment and self-judgement if you do not get the results you imagined.

How are you living intentionally?

Cannabis-enhanced Yoga to Cultivate Calm

Finding stillness and moments of calm within your day is often a luxury, especially during the holiday season, but carving out time for relaxation and mindfulness is a necessity as they both provide huge relief for stress, bring thoughts into the present moment, and increase our sense of well-being. Pairing certain strains of cannabis and restorative yoga poses can be a great way to cultivate calm as they both have soothing effects on our nervous system which encourages relaxation. Cannabis’s effects on our awareness of sensation paired with deep breathing and restorative stretches brings your mind to a calm, focused state. Here are a few poses and cannabis strains to cultivate calm in your body and mind.

Twisting Balasana (Twisting Child’s Pose)

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This restorative pose may not look like much but is great for reducing stress. This shape also lengthens the spine, releases tension in the neck, shoulders, back, and hips, and gently massages the abdominal organs which improves digestion.

Getting In and Out

Place the short end of a bolster (or a few very fluffy pillows) against your right hip and sit with your knees to the left. Rest your left thigh on your right foot. Turn to the right and place your hands on either side of the bolster. Walk your hands forward to extend your torso over your bolster than lay down with the front of your body supported by the bolster as much as possible. Let your forearms rest on the floor with your elbows under your shoulders. Turn your cheek left or right depending on how deep of a stretch you’d like to feel in your neck. Focus on steady even breathing in this gentle twist. Stay in the shape for up to 2 minutes then switch sides. Come out of the pose by placing your hands under your shoulders and pushing up.

Pair this with Birthday Cake Kush, a sweet indica-dominant hybrid that soothes the body, is great for relieving pain and anxiety, and in larger doses provides a heavy eyed body melting high – a great floating sensation when you’re supported by comfortable props.

Supported Baddha Konasana (Supported Bound Angle Pose)

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This is a gentle hip, inner thigh, and groin opener that also alleviates mild anxiety and menstrual discomfort. Be extra cautious getting into this shape if you have a knee injury, or skip this pose entirely.

Getting In and Out

Sit on the edge of a bolster or folded blanket. Bring the soles of your feet together, lined up evenly from toe to heel. Let your knees rest open, feeling free to support them with extra blocks or blankets if there is too much sensation in the groin. Keep your back upright, and support yourself with your fingertips on the floor behind you. Stay here for up to 5 minutes. To come out, slowly straighten your legs.

Pair this with Blue Dream, a favorite for a balanced body-mind high. This sativa-dominant strain gives a dose of mild euphoria and a deeply relaxing full-body high – one of my favorites.

Baddha Hasta Uttanasana (Dangling Pose)

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This pose provides a gentle stretch for the lower back, warms up the hamstrings and quadriceps, massages the abdominal organs, increases blood flow to the brain, and calms the body and nervous system.

Getting in and Out

Stand with your feet parallel and hip distance apart. Generously bend your knees and fold forward. Clasp opposite elbows with your hands, and let your head hang. You can sway your hips here or shake your head yes and no, gentle movements but always staying mindful of the breath. Stay in this pose for up to 2 minutes before releasing your hands to the floor and rolling up slowly, with your head coming up last.

Pair this with Penny Wise a CBD-rich strain with a very mellow high, which can turn to a good night’s sleep in larger amounts.

Vrkasana (Tree Pose)

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This pose increases focus while calming the mind and strengthening legs. Try doing this pose next to a wall for extra balancing support, and pay extra attention to your face while you balance. Balancing poses are the first place we tense up and stop breathing in order to hold a pose, but in this tree pose see if you can relax your brow, find your drishti (a non-moving object to look at), and try smiling!

Getting In and Out

Stand in mountain pose with both feet rooted evenly into the earth, toes unclenched and thighs gently pressing back. Kickstand your right foot so that your toes are on the floor and the sole of your right foot rests on your left ankle. Gently press your right knee open for more of a groin and hip stretch. Bring your hands to Anjali Mudra and start to be curious. Play in your shape. As you find balance, lift the right foot higher on your left leg and let it rest on the calf or inner thigh, not your knee. Be a wavy tree and sway your arms in the air. Embrace any shakiness or unsteadiness you may feel as you move. Remember to breathe. Stay here for up to 1 minute. To release, bring your palms back to your heart, lower your right foot down and switch sides.

Pair this with Girl Scout Cookies, a strong sativa-dominant hybrid that gives a potent euphoric high, stick to low doses for the best results. This strain reduces anxiety, and combining it’s mildly energizing effects with tree pose’s focusing ability creates a high like a balanced and mellow caffeine buzz without the crash.

Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Fold)

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Forward folds promote introspection and relaxation, and this pose provides a great stretch to the low back, soothes headache and relieves stress, and opens the hamstrings. Most people tend to force themselves into a deep fold, but the intention isn’t to jam yourself into a pose and hold it. Use this shape to listen to your body, practice honoring yourself in the present moment, and move with your breath rather than your ego.

Getting In and Out

Sit on the edge of a folded blanket with your legs extended. Tilt your pelvis forward. Hook a strap (or belt, or bathrobe drawstring) on the balls of your feet and hold one side of the strap in each hand. Wrap the strap around your hands so you can hold on without straining. Slowly fold forward, finding depth over time. Soften your shoulders away from your ears. Notice whether your jaw or eyebrows are tense. Breathe here for up to 5 minutes, deepening the stretch if your body invites you to over time. When you are ready to come out, engage your core as you inhale and roll up one vertebrae at a time.

Pair this with Cannatonic, a CBD-rich flower with a mild taste and high. Due to it’s high CBD to THC ratio, this strain is often suggested for treating anxiety and is incredibly relaxing.

Viparita Karani (Legs up the Wall)

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This is a wonderful passive inversion which allows us to experience the calming benefits of inversions without having to get into a headstand.

Getting In and Out

Sit beside a wall with your right hip right up against it, then swing your legs up the wall while using your hands to help you lay down. If you have tighter hips and hamstrings, getting your bottom right up against the wall will be challenging. Gently reach through both heels as you extend your legs. You can also practice this pose with a bolster to elevate the hips – if so, your bottom will fall into the space between the wall and bolster. For more of  a groin stretch, try a wide legged variation. Come out of the pose by drawing your knees into your chest and stay here for a few breaths, then press up into a seated position.

Pair this with Headband, an indica strain that is especially great in small doses. This strain gives most people the sensation of their head being gently hugged which can be very relaxing, and works extra well with the soothing headiness of this inversion.

Supported Matsyasana (Supported Fish Pose)

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This gentle pose expands the chest, relieves shoulder and neck tension, and naturally deepens breathing. Focused, deep breathing is a great way to slow down thoughts and cultivate calm.

Getting In and Out

Sit with your legs extended in front of you. Place the short end of a bolster right behind your tailbone and lay down on the bolster. Your entire back should be supported. Rest your palms by your side, facing upwards. Let your chin be neutral and inline with your forehead rather than pointed upwards your head tilting back. If you experience lower back pain shift your bolster further away from your tailbone. You can stay here for as long as 20 minutes.

Pair this with Blackberyy Kush, a heavy, body relaxing indica that is known for relieving pain and stress. This strain is great for promoting sleep, so can be the perfect calming combination for a good night’s rest when paired with a supportive fish pose.

All of these poses and strains to cultivate calm are all-levels friendly, can be done for short or longer periods of time, and work well individually or as part of a relaxing sequence. Each of these shapes are naturally calming on their own, so if cannabis doesn’t feel appropriate you can always do the shape alone. Carve out time for relaxation and cannabis-enhanced self care, and try these calming pose and strain combinations. Let me know about your experience if you do!

Om Shanti, friends, and stay blazed!

Soothing Anxiety with Cannabis-Infused Meditations & Practice

See the sights (2)Everyone experiences anxiety at one point or another, which can vary from persistent worrying to self-consciousness or fear. Anxiety can occur when the thoughts in your mind are not rooted in the present moment, but there are times when a little anxiety is useful. Feeling anxious can help us be aware of danger and as a result we make life saving choices, but most of the time anxiety is an irrational and all consuming emotion. The experience can be so immersive that you focus solely on the symptoms and lose sight of what the root cause of the anxiety might be.

Regular meditation can help practitioners attain another way of perceiving and relating to reality which is useful for people who suffer from anxiety. The physiological state brought about by meditation is the complete opposite of the state brought about by anxiety as it promotes deep relaxation, and decreases heart and respiratory rates which culminates to a less anxious mind state (as cited in LeShan, Lawrence L., How to Meditate: a Guide to Self-Discovery, 2017, p. 43). Meditation also activates the left prefrontal cortex which has been correlated with greater levels of happiness, more flexibility in outlook, and a temperament that is harder to anger or fluster.

Contrary to some beliefs that cannabis causes anxiety, many people feel relief as it cannabis can diminish chronic affect (fear, anxiety, anger) and replace it with a gentle attitude, an easy smile, and more optimistic outlook, so can be extremely complementary to your mindfulness practice and diminish anxiety.

With consistent practice, the tips and medicated meditations shared below will help you become aware and more sensitive of your internal processes. As soon as you sense anxiety creeping in, you might use a breathing technique, mantra, or specific cannabis strain to slow it down. Developing your awareness allows you to tap into emotions earlier, giving yourself a chance to analyze feelings of anxiety before getting swept away in thought.

Before you dig in, here are some things to remember…

  • Unless you are congested, always breathe through the nose during meditation. The nasal passages are narrower than the mouth and offer more resistance and control to the airflow which lengthens exhales and lowers your respiratory rate. Both of which have a calming affect on the mind.
  • If closing your eyes during meditation exacerbates your anxiety or increases mind chatter, keep your eyes open and find a soft gaze just beyond your nose.
  • Meditation is not about clearing your mind of thoughts. The idea is to acknowledge all thoughts (positive and negative) without judgement, to listen to your thoughts without becoming so attached that you identify as them, then to let those thoughts go. Meditation is about developing a better relationship with your mind fluctuations as opposed to denying or pushing them down.
  • Experiment. If one thing isn’t working for you, try something else.
  • If you notice that your attention has wavered, simply return your focus to the breath.

5 Medicated Meditations

I personally like to practice these kinds of meditations with an indica strain, which brings more stimulation to the body than the mind. Each strain shows up differently from person to person, so be sure to know how the plant affects you before combining with meditation as meditation increases the intensity of being high. Take a hit, wait 10 minutes and see how you feel. Check back in with yourself and stay with this, or keep adding more at this frequency. The mindful practice starts with listening to your body with this plant. 

  1. Diaphragmatic breathing

Slow breathing is calming to the nervous system, so if you change the way you breathe, you change the way you feel and the connection between mind and breath is never as apparent than with anxiety.

People with anxiety often have anxiety-cause muscle restriction so tend to have more shallow breathing and might feel like they can’t take a full breath. With this meditation focused on the breath (which is also good for quieting mental chatter) the focus is on diaphragmatic breathing.

  • Find a comfortable seated position.
  • Start to follow the movement of your breath, letting it flow naturally for a few cycles.
  • On your next inhale, start the breath from your belly, then draw further breath into your chest.
  • Pause when you are full.
  • Gently draw your stomach in as you exhale slowly, visualizing a wave of breath. from stomach to chest and out of your nose.
  • Notice the expansion of your belly and ribs on your inhale.
  • Pay attention to the fluid motion of your breath.
  • Tune in to the exact moment your inhale becomes an exhale.
  • Focus on the fine details of how the breath feels in your body.
  • Notice if the in breath and out breath are equally smooth and of similar length.

Stay with the practice for 2 to 5 minutes.

2. Sandbag Breathing

If slowing down your breath is frustrating or increases your anxiety, sandbag breathing is a great alternative and can train your abdominal muscles for deeper breathing and relief muscle tension.

  • Lay on your back in savasana, feel free to elevate your knees for low back relief and/or support you neck with a blanket.
  • Notice your natural breathing for a few cycles, without trying to alter it.
  • Place a 5lbs sandbag on your stomach (or use a bag of rice or something else of similar weight) and continue to lay in savasana.
  • Breathe deeply, bringing more focus to your exhales. The weight of the bag will make your exhales more rushed, so see if you can control the speed in which the bag falls by slowing your breath.
  • Relax your shoulders, jaw, and face and let the sensation of your exhales feel passive.

Stay with the practice for 5 to 10 minutes.

3. Crocodile Breathing

This meditation uses diaphragmatic breath while laying on the stomach to bring awareness to the contraction and expansion of your abdominal muscles as breathe. This is a great alternative if the weight of a sandbag is uncomfortable.

  • Lay on your stomach with your forearms crossed. Place your forehead down onto your arms, using them like a pillow. Bring a slight pressure to the space between your eyebrows.
  • Let your feet be apart from each other, taking up space with the inner edges on the floor.
  • Start your diaphragmatic belly-chest-pause breathing
  • Your inhales fill and nourish, and your exhales release and empty.
  • Bring your focus to the slight arch in your back with each out breath. Soften your back muscles and allow the breath to flow without resistance.
  • Draw your senses to the back of your lungs expanding with each in breath.
  • Soften the space around your navel.
  • Notice your inhales gently expand your abdomen and exhales gently contract it.
  • Be the witness to your own breath.

Stay with the practice for 5 to 10 minutes.

4. 1:2 Breathing

Extended exhales calm the parasympathetic nervous system and are very relaxing.

  • Find a comfortable seated position or lay down with one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest.
  • Notice the natural flow of your breath for a few cycles so it can settle into a pattern
  • Start to count the length of your inhales and exhales, ideally they should be the same length at this point.
  • Take note of how many counts you take to complete a full inhale.
  • If you usually inhale for 4 counts, increase your exhale by 1 count. Keep increasing the length of your exhale by 1 until you are inhaling for 4 counts and exhaling for 8. Do this with a slow, smooth breath and only if you’re not short of breath while doing so.

Stay with the practice for 2 to 5 minutes.

5. Mantra Meditation

Repeating a mantra can be more grounding than focusing on the breath. One mantra I like to repeat during times of anxiety is “Everything is temporary.” It’s grounding, accurate, and brings me into the present moment. Ultimately, a mantra is most powerful when it is a phrase that speaks to you, so choose what works for you.

  • Find a comfortable seat and start to notice your breath flow.
  • Gently repeat your mantra in your mind with each inhale and exhale.
  • Let the mantra fill your being on your inhale, and come into existence on your exhale.
  • If you notice that your attention has wavered, simply return your focus to the breath.

Stay with the practice for 5 to 10 minutes.

5 Alternative Methods to Soothe Anxiety

  1. Look honestly at what is. Understand whether you are contributing to your anxiety with habitual thought patterns, behavior, or have any unresolved conflicts. This facilitates detaching from thoughts and beginning to see them more clearly, and creates a new relationship to the way you’re identifying with negative thoughts.
  2. Practice “ishvara pranidhana”, surrendering to the universe. Give up the illusion of control. With anxiety there is a moment where you can let go and all of that fear becomes exhilaration.
  3. Know your subjective therapeutic window when using cannabis for anxiety. Everybody is different so what may relieve anxiety for some may exacerbate anxiety in others, so it’s important to know what works for you. Your subjective therapeutic window is the optimal amount and type of cannabis you need to relieve symptoms. Using below your therapeutic threshold is ineffective and using too much may worsen the very symptoms you are trying to alleviate. The best way to discover your window is to start with low doses and go slow.
  4. Try inverted and heart-opening yoga poses. Shapes like legs-up-the-wall pose, supported bridge, and supported fish pose are easy to do at home and can be very calming when approached with deep breath and a balanced mind state.
  5. Be curious. You may not be able to control what is causing your anxiety, but you do have control over how you respond to it. Instead of anxious, choose to be curious instead. What can be learned from this situation? What does anxiety tell you about yourself, about others, or the values you hold dear? What underlying thoughts or events keep popping back into your subconscious and causing anxiety?

With any or all of these mindful exercises the sense of ease created can grow over time as you continue to practice, because just as anxious thoughts can dig deep grooves, a steady practice and the change in attitude that accompany it can also deepen with repetition.

Stay tuned into my YouTube channel next Friday for a medicated meditation and gentle yoga session to let go of anxiety, especially if you have more mental symptoms of anxiety that movement may be more beneficial for than a seated meditation. This was an in-depth post so a week to set an intention of letting go of old thought patterns and put some of these exercises in practice may be a nice way to gain understanding of the practice to get the most out of an online class.

I hope you find this article useful!

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. Try this online class I created to relax and release mind fluctuations, I hope you enjoy it!

Lessons from Self-Care With Her(b)

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Photo courtesy of PuffPuffPassCo at Self-Care Sunday

Last week I hosted Self-Care With Her(b), a women-centered workshop that served to create a space to share tips about wellness with cannabis. We had a sister session of open conversation while sharing organic herb, learned how to implement a self-love practice through affirmations and hip-opening stretches, and indulged in shoulder rubs using the pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties of THC and CBD-infused massage oils. An amazing night of radical self-love blessed by the full moon and so much feminine wonder.

The vibes were high as a room full of Queens of all ages, ethnicities, and individual stories communally smoked rose petal blunts hand-rolled with a mix of indica and CBD cannabis, lavender buds (for increased relaxation), and white sage (to lengthen the duration of the high); taking in Mother Earth’s smokable goodness and shedding layers. If you weren’t able to make it to this session, don’t fret – you may have missed out on this divine feminine experience but you can join my mailing list to be the first to know when the next Self-Care With Her(b) workshop will be happening again! For now, here is a peak into some of the ideas we explored about developing a self-care routine with cannabis.

  1. Understand your personal relationship with cannabis

“Every woman interested in a spiritual friendship with cannabis should have her own pipe and her own small stash of good herb, and she should know how to prepare it and savor it. Also, women should do it alone now and then, silently seeking communion and insight. As wonderful as a couple’s enhanced communication and sensuality can be, solo contemplation is also a marvelous path to follow.”

This quote comes from Cannabis & Spirituality by Stephen Gray, and serves as a reminder that your relationship with cannabis is so deeply personal and should be explored alone every so often to honor this. What are your favorite methods of consumption? How do indicas make you feel? How about sativas? How many mgs do you like to have of an edible? If you smoke joints, do you know how to roll your own? What signs does your body give you when you start to feel too high? What do you do when you get too high? What activities feel the best when you smoke? What thoughts, feelings, and sensations are amplified or diminished with certain strains?

I’ve met so many women who only smoke socially or because of their partner, without any regard for what they’re trying to experience other than being altered or just to be a part, that they have no idea what kind of cannabis they’re smoking or what the effects are supposed to be. When you know how different strains, types, and doses of cannabis effect you, and generally educate yourself about the cannabis you’re consuming (ask your budtender!) and the way it effects you personally (ask your body!), you become empowered to take your experience, healing, and well-being into your own hands, rather than leaving it to someone one else.

2. Find cannabis-friendly products for your health and wellness needs

Cannabis is more than a psychoactive plant, it also has lots of stress and anxiety reducing, anti-inflammatory, and pain relieving properties making it a perfect ally for women’s wellness. Whether it is a cannabis-infused bath bomb, essential oil, body oil, salve, or diet-specific edible, there are infinite ways to take advantage of the healing benefits of cannabis for multiple situations.

Papa and Barkley Releaf Yoga With Minelli Self CAre with Herb
image courtesy of Eaze
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image courtesy of marijuana.com

One of my go-to cannabis products for relieving menstrual cramps and back pain is Papa & Barkley’s 1:3 CBD Releaf Patch, a small patch that radiates warmth and over 30mgs of cannabinoids where the patch is placed and surrounding areas, alleviating discomfort in around 20-minutes. Or, if time allows, I also like to use Whoopi & Maya’s Amer Moon bath soak which has a combination of cannabis, epsom salts, and therapeutic grade essential oils to support and stimulate your body’s natural healing compounds.

 

Whether you have cramps, PMS, are pre or post-natal, going through menopause, or just want to relieve stress after a long day, soaking in a cannabis-infused bath (while smoking a mellow indica joint) is one of the most luxurious and feel good ways to self-care. You cannot get high from a medicated bath soak.

Taking advantage of and being knowledgeable about all of cannabis’s plant medicine is so powerful. Just as knowing the way you react to the psychoactive effects of cannabis is necessary, it is also important to equip yourself with ways to alleviate symptoms through cannabis while supporting your endocannabinoid system. This empowers us to safely manage some health and wellness needs on our own, using the benefits of natural herbs instead of prescription pills.

3. The importance of affirmations

As women we are often taught to seek love and validation through external sources, but in reality we can only be fulfilled when we love ourselves first. Repeating affirmations is a great way to uplift and empower yourself, practice loving awareness, increase your general well-being and confidence, and reduce negative self-talk. The words we say to ourselves, whether they are voiced or internalized, have very real and palpable effects. When your inner voice in a critic more often than an observer it chips away at your perception of self and situations.

During Self-Care With Her(b) we used journals to write down a simple affirmation starting with I AM. I am strong. I am beautiful. I am love. I am here. Whatever naturally arose. While laying on our backs in supported fish pose, reclined bound angle pose, or corpse pose we held the journal to our chest, repeating the affirmation in our heads with each inhale and exhale. Inhaling love, exhaling love.

Doing this for several minutes creates a ritual for a self-care practice and encourages us to carve out time specifically for this. I love doing this in the mornings, writing affirmations and possibly more as long as it is judgement-free, but you can also do this without writing the words, just remembering them in your mind and repeating. Inhaling and exhaling love.

4. When in doubt, try hip-opening restorative stretches

According to yogic traditions, our hips are the storehouse of subconscious emotional and physical stress so stretching the hips allows us to relieve this area, feel open, and create space to birth new perspectives. Restorative hip openers are also deeply calming, helpful in relieving lower back pain and menstrual cramps, and increase range of motion and circulation.

Perfect for morning, noon, and night, combining an affirmation writing and smoking session with some long-held hip-opening restorative poses like supported child’s pose, supported reclined bound angle pose, saddle pose, happy baby pose, butterfly pose, deer pose, and bringing it to a close with a long savasana or legs-up-the-wall pose is grounding and can be an important time to check in, notice without judgement, and let go of what is not serving you. Becoming still and silent enough to filter out the noise that usually seems so important.

It takes self-observation, patience, curiosity, and education to get the most out of cannabis’s whole plant medicine and be able to use it as a viable part of your self-care routine. You can use these tools and any of the options mentioned above to start to get a taste of what self-care with her(b) looks like for you, but always be gentle with your process and always listen to your body. Let us know in the comments section if you try any of these or have self-care suggestions of your own.

Last week was the first Self-Care With Her(b) workshop that I hope to host quarterly with rotating self-care themes and cannabis-products from women-centered and ethnically diverse businesses, bringing support to all kinds of feminine. Join my mailing list to be the first to know the dates for the next sister session! If you would like to submit suggestions for topics of discussion or share your product, email me at hello@yogawithminelli.com

My Morning Mindfulness Routine | Creating Space for a New Day

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Photo courtesy of Bess Byers

A morning mindfulness routine helps to create space for a new day by guiding us to let go of what happened yesterday, reign in thoughts of what might happen today, and be receptive of what is happening right now – the present moment. My morning routine doesn’t look the same everyday because I wake up at different times for work, which allows for more or less time depending on the day (on days I have to be up at 5:30am my routine gets a lot shorter), but I always make time for gentle observation after waking to notice my breath, how I’m feeling, and what thoughts are stirring around in my mind.

When we begin the day with mindful intention it’s easier to continue making mindful choices throughout the day, whether that means making a healthier food choice for breakfast, pausing before reacting to a situation, or going to sleep earlier so you can take a yoga class the next morning – all of which can have a positive affect on your stress levels and well-being. With a consistent morning mindfulness routine we are also able to build tapas, a Sanskrit word translated as heat, fiery discipline and internal fire; an aspect of our inner wisdom that encourages us to get up and do our practice for the love of it – ‘burning’ away negative thought patterns and habits to build healthier ones.

By training ourselves to create this space in our practice, we learn to let go of expectations, and we learn flexibility. Once we get used to being open and having room to allow anything to happen, we start to welcome the unknown.

Here are a few parts of my routine that I find the most centering:

Get adequate sleep

Everyone’s definition of ‘enough sleep’ is different but I like to get around 8 hours sleep a night. Just like eating, drinking, and breathing, adequate sleep serves a vital role to our health and emotional well-being. Being well rested is an important part of self-care as it helps us feel as if we’re ready to take on the world while inadequate sleep can cause difficulty making decisions, solving problems, controlling emotions and behavior, and coping with change.

Be grateful

Waking after a good night of rest also makes it easier to cultivate feelings of gratitude, rather than misery and aggravation, when you wake up. Feelings of gratitude increase mental strength and empathy so when I wake up I let my first thoughts be centered in gratitude, just being thankful for the day and every unknown moment that it will bring. This definitely didn’t come naturally at first, but after a while tapas and adequate sleep made it a reflex for me to feel thankful first thing.

No phone for the first 20 minutes of waking

My cell phone is a huge causer of stress in the morning since I do a lot of work from it, so other than setting a timer for my meditation I give any energy to my phone for at least 20 minutes after waking. At first 20 minutes seemed like a long time since I used to instinctively wake up and roll towards my phone, but now I easily go longer to extend my quiet time and spend less of my day immersed in emails, social media, texts, or work. Sometimes I’ll turn my phone off overnight or have it on silent and face down just to avoid lights or sudden pings catching my attention.

Hydrate

Hydrating is something I constantly have to remind myself to do so getting a few cups of water in before the day gets busy is vital for me. Drinking warm water as soon as I wake up ensures I get a big glass in as soon as possible and warm water is great for your digestive system – so two birds, one stone!

Stretch

This doesn’t mean yoga as much as it means intuitive movement, like the reflexive way you might reach your arms up and point your toes after waking. I like to make a little time for movement and let my body naturally open into any feel good stretches, gentle cat-cow arches, downward facing dogs, or reclined pigeons. Physical yoga postures are all about creating space, so I keep this in mind as I create space for the day. In a pose we create space physically by stretching our bodies while the next parts of my routine work on creating space in the mind.

Meditate

Depending on my mood and time my meditation can be a 10 minute check-in while in bed or seated on a bolster, to a 30 minute walking meditation listening to a guiding audio. I like to keep my morning meditations simple with no active or intense breath work, just passive observation of my breath and gentle awareness of my body. When thoughts inevitably stir up or I drift into planning what I have to do later I simply acknowledge the thoughts popping up in my mind, let them dissipate, then bring my focus back to the movement, quality, and richness of my breath. If simple passive observation isn’t enough to bring me into the space I remembering the saying,  “we inhale to take in what we need, and exhale to let go of something that once served us but does not anymore” and that serves well for seeing other thoughts as irrelevant in this moment.

Journal

Most times after meditating and stretching I write down thoughts about whatever is swimming around in my mind. Oftentimes I’ll just take note on what arose during my mindfulness practice, my goals or struggles, intentions for the day, or just noticing which movements or meditation methods felt the best. Journaling is a meditative practice in itself because it can be a time to connect with and reflect on yourself through non-judgemental writing, getting thoughts down on paper to clear some of the mental clutter.

Medicate

I mentioned this last, but cannabis consumption is typically sprinkled throughout my morning mindfulness routine (and life!), but of course feel free to omit this if you’re not a regular consumer. A lot of people feel as if smoking makes them feel lazy or unproductive, but that is all to do with the strain, how much you smoke, and the set and setting of the situation as well as your intention. As with every part of my practice I let my body tell me if and when it wants to feel elevated, and sometimes that may mean packing a bowl before stretching or just lighting up as I’m journaling. If you’re present for the experience grinding the flower, packing or rolling it, smoking, and instantly noticing how your body and mind react when they’re both freshly awake can be a time for mindful observation, and cannabis can act as a way to slow down thoughts, fully awaken, and center your mind for your day.

This list may seem like a lot (especially when you’re used to running around in the morning), but for me can range anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour depending on if I have an early work day, whether I feel called to do everything, and how long I choose to spend on each activity. If you feel like you don’t have enough time to do this in the morning, you are exactly who needs to be doing this – waking up 20 minutes earlier (which means sleeping earlier) for self care will make you feel better equipped to deal with the day without feeling drained by the end of it.

I think a genuine desire to build a mindfulness routine while remaining flexible about what that practice looks like is what determines “success” in this. Creating space with a mindfulness routine includes allowing space for that routine to change accordingly with how your mind and body are feeling, while encouraging you to remain an observer of yourself rather than a critic. There’s no timer or person watching over your shoulder so just listen to your body, carry on as it feels good, and eventually your inner teacher will tell you what parts of your routine it resonates with the most and tapas will keep you coming back.

Setting Intentions for a Deeply Connected High

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Do you ever take the time to do nothing but smoke? I mean, roll up a good blunt or joint and smoke it while doing literally nothing else but being present. At the most just enjoying the smoke while chatting with your friend or love, or sitting out on your patio in silence observing traffic as the outdoor climate awakens your skin. Because I’m so used to the act of smoking I tend to smoke while sending emails, while reading textbooks, or scrolling through my phone, and I’ve noticed dividing my attention like this takes away from the whole high I could be experiencing.

In our society multitasking is considered a positive, but when we spread our attention between several different things it’s impossible to experience one thing fully or complete a task to the best of our ability. And when it comes to consuming cannabis, not being fully present for your high bares the questions Why smoke in the first place if you’re not mentally there to experience it? Do you consume cannabis to remove yourself from the present moment or to help immerse yourself in it? Are your smoke sessions a passive and disconnected activity with no conscious intention besides getting high in that moment? Whatever the answers may be, it’s okay to be aware of them without adding any extra narrative or judgments.

A few days ago I put aside my other tasks to smoke some Gorilla Gold (indica-dominant hybrid) my husband had rolled up for us to share. I set the intention to be present, ignore all distractions, and focus on being in the space at that very moment. We lit the blunt and raised it in dedication to enjoying time together after a full day of work. I noticed how the blunt smelled and tasted, how the cannabis was making me feel, how I was so comfortable being in my home with my husband smoking on our Friday night, all of which were effecting my experience. Being the most present I could created a much stronger connection with my high and gave me greater control of it.

Although I had smoked this same flower before I had never done so with mindfulness and intention setting, so this time I was much more engaged with the experience. The strain’s true indica effects gave me a wonderful body-enveloping high as I lifted my limbs as if moving through water – slow and steady with each micro-movement feeling sweet. I moved slowly and consciously to feel these intricate sensations, gave myself a good morning stretch that made my body feel as if it had been contracted for most of the day and was just now opening up. The sofa hugged my body from all sides and sunk me into the cushions, giving me a strange sense of safety and comfort. I was caught in the flow of my body movement and it’s sensations, euphoric, out of my thoughts, and still able to engage with my surroundings while enjoying how cannabis was enhancing the experience.

The strain’s true indica effects gave me a wonderful body-enveloping high as I lifted my limbs as if moving through water – slow and steady with each micro-movement feeling sweet.

Disconnecting from or finishing other tasks before lighting up acts as a reminder to practice mindfulness while consuming cannabis and deeply engages you to the effects of your high. This awareness helps us maintain a healthy relationship with this powerful herb while bringing enjoyment to being present rather than falling into the stress building mindlessness of multi-tasking. And with all of your attention focused on actually experiencing your high, it is easier to feel the vast variety of effects a strain is having on your body, learn how certain strains show up in you/whether or not they work for you, and learn how you react to the high mentally, emotionally, and physically therefore making it easier to monitor and responsibly dose yourself. This awareness can ultimately make you so deeply connected to the full extent and experience of your high that you smoke less than you normally would do when your attention is preoccupied with other thoughts and tasks.

Outside of setting an intention of presence with your flower, some other ways you can practice mindfulness for a deeply connected high are to be aware of what kind of cannabis you’re consuming. Is it an indica, sativa, or hybrid? Knowing the strain greatly influences how much you’ll consume and what you’ll experience.

Smell the nugs before consuming them – cannabis is a flower after all, and most strains smell delicious and pungent. Notice whether the scent reminds you of fruit, earth, cheese, pine, a memory, or anything else specific. Does it make your mouth water or is it off-putting? How does the smell make you feel?

Disconnecting from or finishing other tasks before lighting up acts as a reminder to practice mindfulness while consuming cannabis and deeply engages you to the effects of your high.

Taste the cannabis or whatever you’ve chosen to roll it in. Take slow, occasional hits so you can experience the different flavors that come up and gradually escalate your high. For the purest taste I recommend smoking out of a clean bowl and using a hemp wick to light the cannabis, this way there’s no taste of butane from the lighter.

Take notes. What’s the name of the strain? What shop did you get it from? What time did you smoke? How did you smoke and how much? What did you feeling while smoking? Take notes on this and whatever else comes to mind on a scrap of paper, a notebook, or your phone – just letting it flow and add to the deeper connection and understanding of your high.

Start with setting an intention to be present with your cannabis and these other mindful habits will follow. If you like to smoke in the morning (it’s not for everyone, but I find certain strains like Pineapple Express are energizing, focusing, and induce productivity), smoke your first bowl and set an intention to be present with it. I find that doing this in the morning makes mindful choices occur naturally as the day goes on. Put down your phone, listen to a podcast, sit or lay comfortably, sip water, and smoke. Notice how the high creeps up and expresses itself over time. Notice how your body and mind reacts to this, without any extra narratives or judgments, just feel this deep connection with your high. A deeper connection with your high means a deeper connection with yourSelf.