It's amazing to find almost all of us, for an indefinite period of time, living in almost total retreat from society. I remember signing up for a 10-day 'silence meditation' retreat at a Zen monastery in San Francisco, where we agreed not to talk with anyone for 10 days, not to hug, kiss or show physical affection - just turn inward and explore who we really are ...
Now ... we're all being ordered to retreat and practice social distancing, like it or not. And it's our choice whether we enjoy and benefit from this retreat, or fight it.
I still can't quite get my mind around the fact that we're all going through this corona-transformation cycle because of some tiny bugs we can't even see! It's important to note that the corona virus isn't threatening our pets, it's not attacking the birds or the bees or any other creatures on this earth - it's specifically impacting our human species.
Is this our wake-up call to grow and heal as a culture, to stop being so greedy and hostile and fearful, and instead to learn to share and enjoy life and use our unique human abilities for the higher good?
Yes, it's possible that up to one percent of our population will perhaps die from the corona virus. That's a radical tragedy. But meanwhile, all the rest of us are faced with the choice of how to respond or react to our forced retreat - and especially, how will we emerge from this experience ... who will we be after it's over?
I already, as a therapist, can see that many of us will go through deep transformation because of our forced retreat. At this level, what a wonderful gift from the bugs! But each of us must assume conscious responsibility for how we take advantage of our 'down time' -
Do we go a bit neurotic, take a lot of drugs to dull the retreat experience, binge on TV to avoid the experience - or do we find effective ways to grow, to explore, to heal, and open our hearts?
Cannabis In The Time Of Corona
Once we realize we're being given 'off time' for the next weeks and perhaps months at home, the question arises - how in reality can we best use this unexpected free time? Sure, a lot of us are working from home, and taking care of our children and so forth - but what to do with the rest of the time?
I'm a cannabis coach, with the long-term aim of helping people use the additive of cannabis to help spur emotional healing and cognitive expansion. What I can offer during this difficult corona retreat phase is information and guidance for using marijuana positively during the time of corona.
It's true that many people use pot to get stoned and avoid reality - but the exact opposite is also quite possible. When I encourage you to consider including cannabis in your daily routine during this 'off duty' time, I'm not suggesting you use the herb to escape and avoid your situation.
The mindful use of marijuana involves getting high with the intent to open up and fully embrace the present moment, not run away from it into the smoky blur zone.
So - how can we approach the muse of marijuana so as to expand and enhance our good times during the corona retreat? I'm going to devote several blogs to this theme, drawing from my forthcoming book Cannabis For Couples. My team is also working hard to complete the free High Together App, which will provide loads of much-needed online audio and video guidance - the app should be ready in early April.
But before those guidance tools arrive, here are some suggestions:
First of all, my personal and therapist advice is NOT to get high all the time. A healthy balance is important, and you'll work out your own rhythm, I prefer to partake once a day as the sun sets, after I've focused my non-high attention productively through the day.
And definitely, I much prefer getting high with my partner, rather than alone - the experience is very different. Sharing the high experience is rewarding on many dimensions. We're social animals after all - and the combination of two bubbles of awareness often leads to insights and pleasures that don't arise when we're alone.
However, if you're alone, getting high is of course also of value - both to stimulate creativity, and also meditative reflection. I'll devote a forthcoming blog to meditating while high.
Regarding dosage and form of ingestion, again we all develop our own preferences. For deep meaningful experience while high, I prefer to smoke a few puffs of high-THC bud that's energizing - rather than eating a CBD cannabis product that will slow me down and put me to sleep. THC is definitely the primary ingredient in pot that elicits bright inner opportunity for growth and pleasure.
Even with strong THC weed, after an hour or so the talking buzz eases up and you can meditate and inner-trip all you want. But again, balance and moderation seem to be the best advice - the high doesn't get better, for instance, the more we partake. What's important is where and how we focus our high attention, not how far we blast our minds.
The spirit and intent that we bring with us into a cannabis experience does strongly determine what will happen - before I get high with my beloved, or on my own, I consciously pause, shift my focus into the present moment, tune into my breathing for a few minutes ... and then get high with the intent of being courageous and open to a new and rewarding experience.
Trusting The Muse
Whenever we get high with marijuana, it's true that we're taking a risk - we're letting go of a certain amount of ego control, and surrendering to to a qualitatively-different inner flow of consciousness.
This is what getting high is all about - we choose to relinquish our habitual mindset for a few hours, in order to enter into an altered state of consciousness. This act is a leap of faith - an expression of trust in the muse of marijuana to guide us into experiences that we'll value and enjoy. I've studied the cannabis-high state of mind for 40 years now, and have become deeply and thankfully trustful of the muse of marijuana ...
To encourage the muse to take you where you want and need to go for inner growth, fun and awakening, the basic tenants of mindfulness meditation are solid gold:
1) stay in tune with your breathing and wholebody presence ...
2) take equal time talking and listening with each other ...
3) remember to focus on the beauty all around you ...
4) be open and honest, vulnerable and receptive ...
5) focus on and nurture high-heart sharing ...
6) spend time doing nothing ... just be!
7 ... and let the good times roll!