Sunday, November 8, 2015

How my shameful relationship with Marijuana transformed into a healthy, self-care habit

Shame, guilt, judgement, using drugs, getting stoned, lazy…these were the thoughts I used to associate with cannabis. Now I see a different side.

This is day 30 of my #NakedTruth Challenge.

My parents have predominately lived by the "Work hard, play hard" mantra.  They've worked in the wine and spirits industry most their lives, so you can guarantee they were a fun clan to be around.  I even have pictures of my dad in college smoking joints while hiking trails out in Colorado. And for as long as I can remember, my step-dad would come out of the garage after "taking out the trash," reeking of skunk and Listerine.

Nice doobie, dad
I remember one of my very first shows I smelled that same skunk perfuming the air of the concert venue in SF and I proceeded to feel light-headed and intoxicated.

From then on, I would occasionally smoke with friends, because I thought it was cool.  There was something exciting about sneaking around and experiencing an unfamiliar state of consciousness.  Most of the time though I didn't enjoy it fully.  It was hard on my lungs. I usually felt paranoid or anxious.  In the back of my mind, I knew it wasn't right for me at the time, yet I continued to smoke.

I created secrecy and shame around using marijuana because of judgement. It was an avoided topic in our home.

I thought my step dad was abusing the substance.  I could usually tell when he was high, which felt like a frequent occurrence.  When I put myself in his shoes, I understood why he would use substances, whether it was pain killers, alcohol or marijuana. He didn't want to live with his thoughts so he would numb the pain.  But I do this in my own way too.  I want to eat sugary fat-filled treats when I'm feeling stressed and out of control.  Or I'll put up a wall to keep from connecting with people, to protect myself from possibly getting hurt.  I'll even make myself smaller so I don't bother anyone.

I held onto these beliefs around marijuana through college, seeing a fiercely "negative" side of the plant. I saw potheads without motivation and kids spending their money and days off on drugs.  I saw how some people relied on it to get through their day. I listened to the negative mainstream views on plant medicine and cannabis, without coming up with my own ideas about it's therapeutic benefits. I believed my step-dad and my peers were letting the incredible potential between their ears waste away.  And here I was, smoking to fit in, and to avoid facing my own problems.  I judged myself just like I judged others, believing that I was a bad person for smoking marijuana.

Slowly, I started hanging around more people that made me feel good. In college, I found myself hanging out at The Shed, a garage near my dorm that a bunch of students designed into a peaceful gathering space with music, art, and of course, pot.  I loved escaping to this spot and for the laid back people it attracted.

I found myself experimenting with cannabis more, to see what I could handle, how it would affect my head or my body, make me sleepy or giggly or energized.  I played with it, learning about the strains, doses, applications, what worked for me and what didn't. In my heart I knew marijuana could be used therapeutically, but I wasn't sure how when I saw it being abused.

Holistic Entrepreneur and business leader Garyn Angel in an interview with Dave Asprey of Bulletproof, explains how cannabis can be used as a high performance drug,

 "It's not about cannabis, it's about herbs and just eating green and eating healthy, living well, drinking water, doing the things that you have to do and taking control of your health and happiness and it all comes as one."

As a natural chef and health coach, I believe whole-heartedly that food has the incredible power to heal if we allow it.  I'm sure you've experienced this before, where you ate a juicy peach in the middle of summer and your taste buds danced with pleasure.  Or on the other end of the spectrum, you drank too many margaritas at Taco Tuesday and Wednesday morning at work feels like death. What if we start thinking of food as medicine that can be grown in our backyards? Imagine how our view of health can change.  If we eat a meal prepared with love, sprouted from earth rather than a box or factory, if we enjoy the meal mindfully by giving thanks, surrounded by good company, could you see how this becomes powerful nourishing medicine?

"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." -Hippocrates

Listen to your body, become more aware of what it's saying, pay attention to how to you really feel.  I often find myself having my deepest conversations and reflections when I'm tuned in and aware. Just like with people, the better you get to know them, the more you begin to see who they really are, and you love them for it. The more open you are to trying something new, the more you practice or spend time creating a positive habit, the stronger your connection with that food or activity or person becomes.  (This is your amazing authentic self that we all want to see!)

My purpose isn't to tell you to go take ayahuasca in the jungles of Peru or take psychedelics at a Phish show and then you'll have your life all figured out. That's for you to decide. I'm sharing with you my story of how marijuana helped me gain self-awareness so I can be more loving towards myself and others.  It helps me see situations differently. To have greater empathy towards others. I'm more aware of my physical body and the sensations I feel.  It gives me freedom to express myself without limits.  It lets me recharge my soul.  I don't want to use it to avoid my fears and obligations, but I do that sometimes. What I really want is to feel the emotional pain and discomfort and face it head on.  To face my truth. Who am I, really? What can I do to be better?

It does not matter which plant medicine you choose, whether it's a warm cup of tea, a bowl of homemade soup, or a different kind of bowl packed with greens.  All that matters is that you are serving a purpose, one far greater than what you think you are capable of.