An aside … I’ve heard a number of people say they don’t dream if sleeping with cannabis on board. While that might be generally true, it’s not been my experience. But then, my vivid dreams seem to come around 2:00-3:00 a.m. and whatever I imbibed prior to turning in has worn off by then. My experiments with lucid dreaming (more on that later) also didn’t seem affected.
Fast forward to Nov. 2016 … The awakening had left me feeling a bit jangled for a few days and without much of an appetite. Feeling that my body could use some fuel, one morning(!) I decided to take a small hit to generate an appetite. Yes, that’s right – morning! I have now participated in my first ‘wake-n-bake’! (Oh no! I’m becoming a Wake-N-Baker!!) But there was no denying that a sip on a vape pen left me feeling much better, physically and mentally.
And so began the next tumultuous phase of my relationship with cannabis. Tumultuous because, like most people, I had been thoroughly conditioned by my culture to see ‘smoking weed’ as an irresponsible thing done by irresponsible people and so, even as I could feel the cannabis helping to quiet my body and mind after the upheaval of awakening, the egoic self would also be silently chastising me the entire time. I literally had Alcoholics Anonymous literature playing in my head after a few weeks of this; Do you toke alone? How often do you toke before noon? Have you no shame, woman!? But the ‘feeling better’ spoke more loudly than the cultural conditioning so I continued to roast some cannabis flower as needed for the next several days.
A week or two after the awakening, as I sat down to a late morning meditation, I noticed I was still feeling a bit altered from an earlier hit off the vape pen. And that’s how I discovered cannabis can really boost the meditation experience. On that day, I perceived what felt like ‘outside’ energies moving my limbs during a pre-meditation stretch; it was an amazing feeling, if a bit freaky. And discovering yet another upside just popped the Cannabis Genie out of the jar – so to speak – and then I was trying cannabis with everything: yoga (more balanced!), working out (more fun!), watching documentaries (not helpful), reading (really not helpful) and with long stretches of contemplation while staring out the window at the ocean (perfect).
Jump forward another six months to June 2017 … I’ve made my way through dozens of references about spirituality and psychedelics, including several films about LSD, the counter-cultural revolution of the 1960’s and the Acid Test parties hosted by Ken Kesey in the Haight-Ashbury heyday. One film in particular –Long Strange Trip – provided a fascinating look at this time through the people and music of the Grateful Dead, in which Jerry Garcia’s psychedelic wisdom is on full display. And while that psychedelic story was in my awareness, I think it’s the book I was reading that June, A Course In Miracles, that triggered what came next. I had spent the day on a 10-hour reading jag and felt especially heavy-headed with the many new concepts set loose in my mind by the book. Since it was after 11:00 p.m. when I headed to bed, I roasted a large bowl of Snoops Dream in an effort to quickly quiet my mind for sleep. Afterwards, I was feeling especially relaxed and decided to plop on some headphones and listen to – you guessed it – the Grateful Dead as I drifted off. And laying there in the dark, waiting for sleep, thoroughly baked and drifting along with Jerry Garcia, I had what I can only describe as a ‘re-awakening’.
I think Eckhart Tolle would describe my experience as being fully In ‘The Now’. The shift started with a meditation exercise I had picked up from Rupert Spira; focus on feeling the energy in the body, starting with the bottom of the feet and moving upwards. Only instead of the small tingling sensation I usually experienced, my body quickly filled up to the chest level with a strong, warm feeling of energy – it’s the only way I can describe it. Then it rose up to my face and head and suddenly, my consciousness shifted. I was still awake and aware but now I felt very heavily in my body, like I had fully stepped into the form that is the body. I was flooded with a sense of …. ‘joyful peace’ probably best describes it. I tried to lay very still for fear of losing the space; it seems these states need to be held so tenderly when first experienced. Suddenly, I realized I wasn’t ‘me’ anymore. I realized I was awareness, that which contains ‘Laura’ but ‘Laura’ is actually just an ego, an identity that, at that moment, felt as if it was stored in a box someplace back over my left shoulder. Which would have meant that my ‘ego’ was under the bed because, remember, I’m lying in bed, stoned, listening to Jerry Garcia go on and on and on, you know, like he does, flooded with joyful peace and grinning like a fool because I’m now aware that I have fully stepped into The Now. I realized I could be, can be, anything. I could sense how all possibility is laid out in every moment. I could feel my consciousness creating my body, moment by moment, and it occurred to me that if I could remember how (and I’m sure we used to know how to do this), I could imagine differences in my body, and by imagining them, create them. If only I could remember how! And then I experienced another moment of gnosis: the body’s main purpose is communication. The body allows our true nature to communicate to the egoic self through perceptions and the body is used by the self to communicate with others. So there it was, the body fully explained.
After about an hour in this state of ‘Now’, I opened my eyes to make sure I was still ‘here’, not dreaming, not lucid dreaming, not flashing back from the mushrooms. But nope, I was all present, still feeling slightly stoned but mostly just feeling thoroughly jazzed by the experience. And suddenly, another insight flashed through my awareness: there is no past. Or rather, ‘the past’ is not a real thing but only imagined. It doesn’t exist. It’s simply a set of stories, I realized, and suddenly I imagined those stories stored in the same little box as the ego self ‘Laura’, right back there over my left shoulder. I clearly felt that I could pull out those stories if I wanted to, as I could pull out and put on the ego ‘Laura’ when I wanted to; perhaps I’m the only one who can? But without those stories of the ego, I am as everything is – connected awareness without an identity.
Then my mind started to ‘think’ about the experience instead of just perceiving it and as the thoughts took form, I felt myself slip away from Now and back into ‘the box’ of the ego identity. So I stopped thinking. Which I normally have a hard time doing for any length of time when meditating but now it was much easier, as if I was still close enough to the state of ‘Now’ that I could just slip right back through the veil and into awareness without identity. And then another sudden insight – when one person awakens, everyone‘s connection to Source is strengthened, which is why it’s so important that we all help each other awaken. The actual image that flashed through my mind was of a light coming on, bringing illumination to its own space but, more importantly, adding to the light all around it.
For the next four hours, I listened to the Grateful Dead make their magic on my most excellent Senheisser headphones while exploring this new state of awareness, popping in and out of ‘The Now’ until I was too tired to hold off sleep. No further insights occurred as I explored this new experience, nor do I remember even dreaming that night. But in the morning, one further insight did come to mind – mushrooms dropped me through to Source and then marijuana brought me into The Now, telling me clearly that Mother Gaia or Source or the Universe will support my continued use of psychotropic plants to explore states of awareness. So, for reasons I’ll continue to lay out in upcoming posts, I set my cultural conditioning aside.
Now things should get really interesting.
top image: an vino / shutterstock.com