Meditation = Concentration + Mindful Awareness
And by meditation, we mean any activity that’s meditative. So far, we’ve looked at the definition of meditation and shown how it can help you quit weed. We’ve also emphasized that there are many different types of activities that qualify as meditation. Why don’t we just run through a quick review? Ok, mediation is composed of mindful awareness and concentration. By becoming more mindful, create brief time-outs. These time-outs are a temporary disruption to the autopilot mode we are usually in. The purpose of meditation is to become skilled enough at disrupting our autopilot mode that we can disrupt our autopilot mode when we’re not meditating.
Concentration is Freedom
Concentration, or one-pointedness as it’s called in meditation lingo, is partners with mindful awareness in the practice of meditation. Being in a state of one-pointedness is pleasurable because by focusing on one thing only—the breath, surfing a wave, painting a picture, we vaporize all the other niggling worries and thoughts bouncing around in our brains. One-pointedness frees us from preoccupations like weed cravings.
Meditation is the way we grow our mindful awareness and concentration. Mindful awareness allows cravings to be observed and felt without encouraging or discourage them. We observe and acknowledge the craving, which creates a space in which we can decide whether to encourage, discourage, or do nothing about it. Discouraging, or trying to push away your feelings, is never advised because when the feelings come back, they cause frustration. And frustration isn’t productive. Encouraging, or clinging onto your feelings, isn’t good either because when the feelings fade, it causes frustration. When cravings arise, we observe them and let them fade. Everything that arises–good or bad–fades. And when we notice we’re craving weed and have strayed from the object of our concentration—the breath, the wave, the painting—we gently return our attention to the object of concentration.
Coexisting with Cravings
The ironic thing about mediation is that people often quit doing it when they notice just how all over the place their thoughts are, but they wouldn’t have ever noticed how all over the place their thoughts were if they hadn’t started meditating. This situation–quitting meditation practice–is why we suggest that you seek out activities heavier on concentration than mindful awareness, at least at the beginning of your meditation practice. This is a workaround that can get you over the hump until cultivating mindfulness isn’t as daunting a prospect. You’re still building up your mindful awareness, but you’re not doing any power-lifting. And that’s fine. It’s oodles better than giving up on meditation altogether.
But wait, there’s more. There’s another reason for doing something meditative every day. It gives our day meaning, which is not by coincidence one of the main reasons people use weed. Marijuana infuses significance into everything. This is one of its best effects, right? Everything you hear, see, and think about is uber-meaningful. However, there is a huge problem with allowing weed to increase and create meaning in our lives.
Quitting or cutting back on weed leads to feelings of meaninglessness
Using less or no weed decreases your ability to feel pleasure. Nothing is as meaningful and enjoyable as it was before. This is because you’ve abruptly lowered your dopamine levels. Your brain has cranked down the dopamine output because it’s become accustomed to cannabis coming in on a regular basis and prying the dopamine floodgates open. Thus, your baseline dopamine levels have been lowered, and your ability to attribute meaning and significance to events when you’re not high has been handicapped. Your brain has gotten conditioned to letting the active ingredients in weed do its job. It’s like using eye drops a bunch of times a day. Your eyes will cut back on producing their own tears if you are constantly supplying them with artificial ones. That’s homeostasis, and our body is basically a homeostasis machine.
Our taste in food is another example. Japanese people don’t use nearly as much sugar in their food that Americans do. As a result, Japanese people find American food sickeningly sweet. An American friend who thought a battered and fried yam she had in Tokyo would’ve been “perfect with some salt” was told by her Japanese hostess that it was dessert, not a side dish. Another American friend waited in a long line at a newly-opened Krispy Kreme Donuts in Tokyo because she was having sugar withdrawals but was disappointed with the “very soft bagel” that passed for a donut there.
All that’s to say that the differences in the levels of dopamine you are used to with weed and the levels it temporarily drops to when you cut down on or quit weed creates monster urges to use again. We’ll discuss how to deal with this sitch in the next article.