A Beginner’s Guide to Mindful Cannabis Consumption
So you’re feeling canna-curious and want to learn how best to incorporate cannabis into your current lifestyle? Say hello to your new best friend, caregiver, and spirit guide all rolled up into one sweet-smelling flowering plant.
Cannabis can create a wide variety of experiences, which you can curate to your liking if you approach the plant with a mindful and curious attitude. On the whole, cannabis is a friendly plant, but this powerful substance should be approached carefully if you are not familiar with using it. Here are a few tips to keep things mindful as you develop this new relationship that may last a lifetime.
Set an Intention
Setting an intention before you consume is key to guiding your experience in the right direction. Imagine you’re taking yourself on a journey. It helps to choose the destination before leaving on a trip. When you want to swim in the ocean, you drive to the beach. If you drive aimlessly, you might end up in downtown San Francisco instead—not quite what you had in mind. So before each use, ask yourself how you want the cannabis to make you feel. Do you want to get creative? Laugh? Meditate? Relieve pain? You can keep your intention to yourself or say it aloud: The clearer you are with your intention, the more likely you are to achieve it!
Let Your Body Choose the Strain
“The absolute best way to determine which strain to purchase is to stick your nose right into the big weed jar at the dispensary and notice which flavors (terpene combinations) you’re most drawn to,” writes yogi Dee Dussault in her book Ganja Yoga. Our bodies contain valuable intuitive knowledge, and if a strain smells appealing to you, there’s a good chance it has the cannabinoids and terpenes that your body craves. Once you’ve purchased, testing out strains with a microdose first gives a sense of how they will react with your body chemistry. “Be very methodical and resist the urge to oversaturate. Dose up slowly the same way for the first four or five doses,” advises meditation instructor and Harborside budtender Jaene Leonard.
Microdose With a Vaporizer
Vaporization is the way to go for mindful beginners because it’s easier to pace yourself, less harmful for your lungs, and the cannabis retains more flavor than with smoking. With convection vaporizers like the Firefly, you can vaporize flower (or extract) one puff at a time and save the rest for later, kind of like a micro-session. Firefly differs from other high-end vaporizers like the Pax and Volcano in that it only heats while you inhale, so any un-vaped flower stays fresh until the next time you pick it up. This allows you to ease into the experience, so you can test the strain out before committing to a complete change of consciousness. “The beauty of a precision vaporizer is that the temperature can be adjusted. The vapor is cool, the flavor robust, and the high is crystal clear,” writes Joe Dolce in Brave New Weed.
In addition to the variety of customization features, Firefly’s breath-controlled dynamic convection heat technology encourages you to become more aware of your breath, creating a meditative headspace as you consume.
This may sound over-the-top to some people, but you’re putting something into your body just like with food, so pay attention to the quality of your cannabis. Find out where it comes from and how it’s grown. Just as fruits and vegetables taste better when you buy from the farmer’s market, sun-grown cannabis tastes and feels better in your body. “Outdoor cannabis plants get charged with the full spectrum of sunlight for a full eight months,” explains Dussault. “This natural light spectrum produces far more cannabinoids and terpenes. Sun-grown cannabis also requires far fewer pesticides and fungicides, the residues of which can be extremely hazardous to your health.”
Companies like Flow Kana offer organic cannabis grown sustainably by small, local farms, and these days most companies get their product lab-tested so you can make an educated decision. These products taste better, feel better, and let you feel good about making an environmentally-friendly choice.
Choose a Comfortable Setting
Set the tone by putting yourself in an environment where you feel comfortable. Revisit your intention to inspire this choice. You may want to stay cozy at home and surround yourself with close friends, or sit outside under a tree and connect with nature. “Learn what you enjoy and, more important, what you don’t enjoy, in the enhanced state. This is the key to knowing how to be high,” Dolce advises in Brave New Weed. No matter where you end up or who you’re with, have plenty of water and snacks on hand to keep you hydrated and satiated.
Listen to Your Body
It can be as simple as “that feels good” or “that doesn’t.” We all have different body chemistry and each strain will affect you and your friends differently. It’s okay to take recommendations from friends, but stay true to what feels good for you and pay attention to changes in your physical body and emotions after consuming a new strain. Budtenders can be valuable resources for information, but keep in mind the varying degrees of education and the influence of personal experience and opinion. Your body knows better than anyone.
Keep a Journal
If you’re feeling extra-studious, start a journal. “Just as recording your dreams can help you meaningfully integrate them into your waking life, writing down your insights while high can be useful for revivifying your inner life,” writes Dolce. Writing everything down will help you keep track of all the different factors that come into play each time you consume cannabis. For a more medical approach, Leonard advises you to “rate your symptoms before you take any cannabis medicine, record what you’re taking and when, and rate your symptoms once the medicine has kicked in. Over time, your journal will help elucidate what cannabinoids and methods of delivery work best for you.”
You’ve taken your self-care to the next level and made “a new friend you will have for the rest of your life,” says cannabis guru Swami of Swami Select farm. “Experience it as you would a fine glass of wine, with conscious intentions, and expect to be inspired!” Explore life with this new friend. Listen to your favorite music, make love, paint, do yoga, sing, take a nap, go for a walk outside. Do whatever makes you feel happy, and your path to cannabis enlightenment will be a joyful one.