With 50 years experience in meditation and cannabis, psychiatrist, Dr. Andrew Ferber, MD, aka Swami Anand Bodhicitta, explains how the combination of medicating and meditating can improve your life on many levels.
What is Meditation?
All techniques for meditation are watching the mind, indifferently. Observing all of your thoughts and feelings, not clinging to the good, not throwing away the bad; just witnessing whatever comes to mind. There are 100s of techniques of meditation. All are to help this happen. You can’t DO meditation, it happens… only when you relax enough to allow your eternal blissful nature to manifest.
All of the work of meditation is letting go of your attachments to the crazy thoughts that get in the way of this eternal blissfulness. If you are from one of the theistic religions, you can conceive it as letting the godliness within you manifest. If you are of the non-theistic traditions, it is allowing the Buddha nature (which is always there) to manifest. By remembering to allow witnessing, we let go of the identifications with the thoughts and feelings, clinging to the “good” ones, and trying to suppress or change the “bad” ones. Thoughts witnessed self-correct, you cannot change the thoughts.
Medicating and Meditating
Cannabis and Meditating
When you use cannabis, your mind, your brain does something different. You notice this difference, that recognition that what your mind is doing is not the you you usually experience. This is the crucial remembrance, the thing that will help you the most… realize your mind is making this movie, and you are the audience watching it. If you can remember when you are high, “wow, this is just a movie my mind is making now,” eventually, you will remember that all of the time, that your mind is making a movie. That’s called witnessing. That’s the essence of all techniques of meditation, to help you get to the point where you can witness. It’s not a doing, it’s a happening. It’s a knack. All of a sudden you realize, “the mind is doing this now. It’s not me.”
Cannabis allows one to see that the mind is suffering excessively and unnecessarily. This is because we are all mammals who had mommies. When we suffered as a child, when we were hungry, cold, hurt, frightened, we display our suffering, so that mommy would take of it. This carries over to all pain and discomfort we experience as adults. We suffer in order to get cared for. It is usually useless. When you see yourself doing this, while using medical marijuana, you can witness it happening, laugh at it, and not give it too much attention.
Our Meditating Mistake
The mistake that most of us westerners make with meditation is, we try to do something with a negative thought or negative feeling. We can’t fight a thought with another thought. We can only watch them, indifferently. The “Zen guys” say “trying to get rid of a thought with another thought is like trying to wipe out a bloodstain with a bloody rag. It leaves the same blood stain:’ You can’t fight your thoughts. And yet you will, habitually. As soon as you notice you are fighting your thoughts, relax and let them be. Acceptance without identification is the key.
We spend a huge amount of effort and cause pain by fighting what we can’t change. Most of those who are taking medical cannabis are suffering from physical or psychological pain or both. Humans often make it worse by fighting it. If one accepts it, it gets less painful. The cannabis will help you relax and accept it indifferently. You don’t have to make it your best friend. But to try and punch out the pain makes it much worse.
Marijuana and meditation allows you to be more present. All traditions of meditation say that the end of the journey is to live without thought coverings; to be thoughtless, to be one with existence, helplessly and joyously in the presence of the divine. Again, it’s a happening. You can’t do it. But you can relax into it. Cannabis will help you be more sensuous, to feel what can put you in the present. Whether it’s enjoying food, gentle movements with the body, dancing, massaging, being with the people you love, enjoying the sunset, and the flowers, it’s not being lost in today’s terrible news or your worries about money. Those don’t help. It’s being relaxed and accepting what’s pleasant and pleasurable in the moment; that is also how the cannabis can help you be more meditative.
We are in Charge
As we become more meditative, we gradually realize what our nature, our unique individuality is, and to be aware of it as it flowers. This involves first, realizing that we are responsible for ourselves, nobody else is. Nobody can tell us how to live, when to take our medicine or not, whether we are in love, or not. We are in charge.
The use of cannabis involves our deciding each moment what we need, or don’t need. There will come a point, if one meditates long enough, where one realizes the cannabis is now bringing us down instead of up, that its psychoactive effects are getting in the way of the bliss that comes naturally to us. We must decide, each time, whether we need it or not. There’s nobody on the outside who can tell us this. Taking medical cannabis can be a source of empowerment for many of us.
Just Let Go
At the beginning of our treatment, we will need to do things to release the stored contradictions and tensions that are held in the body, in the physical organism. Conscious cathartic movements like yoga, gibberish, creative free dancing, athletics that are not competitive, activities that allow us to be one with nature, swimming, walking in the woods or on the beach, climbing mountains … these activities where you are letting go of tensions in the body, with or without the help of cannabis, will help you be more meditative. If you just try to sit quietly, like the caricatures of the Zen monks, your thoughts are going to go crazy and you will get bored sitting. Top-down, just watching our mind meditation is not enough for most of us, we must do something physical to let go of these tensions. Massage and sex are also excellent for this!
Among the ways that medical cannabis can help the physical aspects of healing is combining it with yoga, dancing, Feldenkrais/somatics, anything that uses conscious movement without too much thinking about being right or being perfect. We should be able to get into a posture or movement and then let it happen. Feel that it’s happening to you.
Most people with chronic pain, both physical and psychological, have restricted their movement repertoire which leads to increased pain, stiffness, inflammation and eventually muscle and soft tissue contraction and permanent disabilities. Dr. Andrew Ferber, MD, along with Edric Braithwaite, RYT and Tara Mina, RYT have created a movement/meditation program for medical marijuana patients in southwest Florida which incorporates the use of recommended cannabis, gentle movement with directed attention, and awareness of the body along with meditation to help patients learn new effective ways of living a life they want.
Participants will be introduced to a variety of techniques of relaxation to help unblocking energy flow. This combination will help one become more aware of the body and its current limitations, gradually increasing flexibility, decreasing pain, minimizing inflammation and transforming our restrictions into a new dance of life.