We are in the middle of a global pandemic and most of us are aware of how important it is to look after our mental health. It is widely accepted that mindfulness and meditation can improve mental health, decrease depression and anxiety and even improve physical measures like blood pressure and immune health; all things that seem important in the time of a global health crisis.
But how do you get started with mindfulness and could CBD help you meditate?
Where does mindfulness come from?
Mindfulness is a term which comes from old Buddhist teachings and meditation techniques but has been westernized and made into an almost clinical tool fitting our non-spiritual conventional medicine. During the 1960s and 70s many western psychologists and medical professionals were drawn to the eastern traditions, perhaps also fueled by the surge in the use of the psychedelic drug LSD, and the consciousness exploration which was taking place around the time. Jon Kabat-Zinn is the medical doctor who is widely associated with bringing back mindfulness to the west and using it in a clinical setting for thousands of patients with chronic pain, stress, anxiety and depression among others.
What is mindfulness?
When asked to define mindfulness Jon Kabat-Zinn describes it as “the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally”. In other words, mindfulness means that you are intentionally paying attention to what your mind is up to, without labelling it as either good or bad. When you are mindful or during mindfulness meditations, you are the observer of your thoughts, emotions and sensations, letting them come and go without attaching to them. This can be useful in a time where you are challenged by a lot of change and uncertainty, when worries about the future can dominate the mind. There are also certain principles of mind that are connected with mindfulness. These include; acceptance, patience, trust, a beginner’s mind, non-judging, letting-go, non-striving, compassion and gratitude. When practiced regularly, these principles become more part of your daily value-system and less conceptual ideas.
How to incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine?
It can be difficult and overwhelming to start a new routine. Where do you start? How long do you meditate for? If you have never meditated before it can be a great idea to get some support for this. If you really want to learn about mindfulness the best way is to sign up for a 8 weeks mindfulness course, the traditional course by Jon Kabat-Zinn is called 8 weeks mindfulness stress reduction course and you can search it on google and find many online offers. Make sure that there is a weekly class with an actual teacher and it is not just you and your computer, going through online modules (Some courses are longer and some are shorter, and there will surely be one to fit your specific need). Another way is to subscribe to one of the many great meditation apps like headspace or Waking Up and take one of their meditations daily. I recommend starting with 10-15 minutes mindfulness meditation daily, preferably in the morning, before you look at emails and start your day.
How can CBD help?
For some people with very busy minds, meditation can be a hard nut to crack. Admit it, when did you last sit down for 15 minutes without doing anything (including not looking at your phone)? If you are one of these people, CBD (cannabidiol) might just be the right thing for you. We know from studies in both humans and animals that CBD exerts its effects on many different receptors in the brain. These include the 5-HT1a receptor, a serotonin receptor associated with mood, mental health, and stress reduction and the GABAa receptor, a “turn-it-off” receptor, associated with turning down the activity in the brain and decreasing anxiety. In the light of these actions it makes sense that CBD can help soothe an overactive mind. This is not only a theory, I often find that my clients who come to me for stress and anxiety find the combination of mindfulness and cannabinoids the perfect cocktail.
How to use CBD for meditation?
You now know everything you need to know to get started; download the app, set the intention to meditate 10-15 minutes as the first thing you do in the morning (or any time of day that fit you), find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed, and if you are having trouble sitting through the meditation consider taking 25 mg CBD sublingually 20 minutes before you start.