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Anyone can tell you that overthinking is draining. Using our brains and carrying out mentally-taxing things takes a toll, whether it is planning, problem-solving, or even daydreaming or thinking negative and random thoughts. This sort of mental behaviour also increases the likelihood of a person experiencing stress, anxiety, or symptoms of depression.
Fortunately, there’s a way to break out of these thoughts and help you ground yourself. Here, we’ll talk about what you need to know about mindfulness, and just how CBD can support and improve your overall mindfulness experience.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is generally defined as the psychological process of purposefully focusing and being aware of experiences occurring in the present moment, without interpretation or judgement. In practice, this means meditating to bring your own attention to the present situation and your own state of mind, being aware of your surroundings, emotions, and breathing. Breathing methods, guided imagery and other practices all help to relax the body and mind and ease you into a meditative state. Note that in this context, it shouldn’t be confused with the practice of meditation, which it is promoted alongside mindfulness, but is not equivalent to or synonymous with it.
Meditation is rooted in Buddhist traditions and based on principles of Zen, Vipassanā, and Tibetan meditation techniques. Specifically, it derives from sati, which is a significant element in the Buddhist tradition. In the Buddhist context, mindfulness is centred around how past, present and future moments come and go as momentary impressions on the senses and mind. Several other disciplines cultivate mindfulness, such as yoga, tai chi and qigong, but much of the literature and the public viewpoint focus on mindfulness that is developed through mindfulness meditation. By carrying out these self-reflective practices, a person focuses on training their attention and awareness so as to be able to bring their mind and thoughts under their own voluntary control. From there, a person can balance their mental well-being and development, and work to foster more specific traits such as calmness, clarity and concentration.
Advocates of mindfulness often assert that everyone can benefit from being more mindful - it’s theorized to help improve self-control, objectivity, concentration and mental clarity, affect tolerance, and enhance emotional intelligence and the ability to relate to others and to know one’s own self. In addition to its effects on general mental state, mindfulness is also thought to have a wide variety of therapeutic benefits, for both mental and physical health.
This process has been implemented in a number of therapeutic applications in clinical psychology and psychiatry for a number of decades and has been employed to help people experiencing all manner of psychological conditions. It’s been used to reduce depression, stress and anxiety, and also for helping people struggling with substance abuse and drug addiction. Mindfulness models have been worked into programs adopted in places and environments around the world, from schools, prisons, hospitals, veteran’s centres and more.
The many benefits of mindfulness
Talking about this practice is all well and good, but now we’ll discuss more what mindfulness practices have to offer to an average person. Even simple mindfulness exercises can help a person direct their attention away from more negative and draining thoughts, and allow for healthy and calm engagement with their surroundings to ease their mental state.
Research has documented both physical and mental health benefits of mindfulness for adults and children alike, as well as for people suffering from various disorders. It’s stood out in particular for its effects on psychological health; mindfulness meditation is known to alter our brain chemistry and provide therapeutic benefits to people with psychiatric disorders, including anxiety, depression, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder and psychosis.
Studies indicate that ruminating and worrying excessively contribute to many mental disorders, but by meditating, a person can experience thoughts and emotions with greater balance and acceptance and reduce rumination. Disengaging from these persistent cognitive activities also helps improve working memory and enhance the capacity for attention. It’s thus been increasingly highlighted as a way of intervention and a preventative strategy to halt the development of mental health issues.
Many studies show that practising mindfulness reduces stress, possibly by altering affective and cognitive processes that underlie many clinical issues. Mindfulness training has also been suggested, based on studies, to shift people’s ability to use emotion regulation strategies and thus process emotions more selectively and healthily. Mindfulness meditation also positively affects a person’s ability to focus attention and suppress distracting information, correlated directly with greater cognitive flexibility. Meditation has also been shown to help decrease feelings of burnout from a job, improve sleep and assist with controlling diabetes.
The neural mechanisms behind many of these effects have yet to be fully understood, but according to the current research, they’re strongly correlated with decreased activity in the brain’s default mode network (DMN). This is a network of interacting brain regions that is active when a person turns their focus away from the outside world, such as when daydreaming, and scientists suggest that a drop in activity here indicates a more restful and attentive mind.
Physical health can also be influenced by mindfulness meditation. Even habitually dwelling on stressful thoughts - ruminating - can exacerbate the effects that stressful stimuli have on a person’s physiology, thanks to repeated activation of the sympathetic nervous system and the glands and sections of the brain that control stress. These effects have the potential to spiral further into physical health-related symptoms. Mindfulness meditation, by reducing rumination and lowering activity in the brain, can alter these biological pathways and prevent this from occurring. Studies indicate that mindfulness meditation can even boost the immune system, lower inflammation, and lower the risk of developing neurocognitive disorders. It’s even been studied as a way to treat patients with these neurocognitive conditions, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Clinical studies and anecdotal accounts support the efficacy of mindfulness and meditation as a way of managing a variety of other conditions, including chronic pain, high blood pressure, fibromyalgia, psoriasis, as well as asthma. Some of these findings have been called into question, however, due to small sample sizes or issues with experimental design.
For the most part, mindfulness yields the greatest benefit in a few key areas - depression, chronic pain and anxiety among them - where well-designed and well-executed studies have provided solid evidence supporting mindfulness as a method of therapy.
How effective is mindfulness, really?
As mindfulness has been popularized all over, there are, understandably, concerns regarding its actual usefulness. A number of psychologists, neuroscientists and meditation experts are worried that the hype will outpace the science, and despite all the buzz around mindfulness and the bold claims as to its benefits, the scientific data to back it up is lacking in comparison.
Many studies that investigate mindfulness and meditation are poorly designed, often lacking control groups to check for the placebo effect or are carried out with small sample sizes, and a lack of standardization across the entire field makes comparing different studies difficult. There also isn’t one universally accepted technical definition of ‘mindfulness’ that scientists and psychologists can agree on, nor is there any agreement as to the finer details of the underlying concepts.
It’s also worth noting that in some cases, people have experienced unexpected effects of fear, and anxiety, panic or “meltdowns” after practising meditation. Some media reports suggest that mindfulness could expose bipolar vulnerability, or induce repressed PTSD symptoms; however, published peer-reviewed academic articles refute this, saying that these negative effects are far and few between, and mostly occur due to a poor understanding of actual mindfulness/meditation practices.
This definitely doesn’t mean that all the support behind mindfulness meditation is invalid, though - there is a wealth of evidence to support mindfulness as a means of managing anxiety, depression and pain, as stated before. Ultimately, mindfulness is still an ever-changing and developing field, and while many people can give their own glowing accounts of their experiences, there is still much that needs to be refined. Peer-reviewed scientific studies and data are always vital to provide clarity on effects and back up claims, and a field-wide accord to what exactly mindfulness means in a scientific context and how best to put mindfulness into people’s lives is absolutely necessary. Existing mindfulness methods also need to be evaluated and scrutinized more carefully, and mindfulness education needs to be more widespread and consistent.
All this aside, for the average person, as long as you’re properly informed as to how to implement mindfulness and perform meditation correctly, there’s nothing to lose and much to gain by just taking a little time out of your day to centre yourself. Some people may find it difficult even with training to reach that state, however. Whether because of stress, an uneasy mind or other all-too-common personal issues, people may need to turn to different ways to ease the process. There’s various methods touted as being aids to mindfulness meditation, and emerging among these is CBD.
What is CBD?
CBD - otherwise known by its full name of cannabidiol - is an active constituent of the cannabis plant (Cannabis sativa). It’s one of 120 similar closely related compounds called cannabinoids, which are all naturally produced by cannabis and responsible for many of the plant’s unique therapeutic and intoxicating effects. Humans have been cultivating, harvesting and making use of these herbaceous plants for centuries, dating back to as far as ancient China 10,000 years ago and up to the present day, and for much of that time we were unknowingly consuming and benefitting from cannabinoids within the plant.
CBD stands out amongst other cannabinoids for a number of reasons. It’s one of the most abundant cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, accounting for up to 40% of the plant’s extract, and people have started taking it for its variety of health-boosting reasons. Research is now being carried out into its effects, and scientists are increasingly finding potential therapeutic benefits to this compound. When taken, CBD can interact with the brain and central nervous system, the immune system, the digestive system and more. We don’t know the full extent of its actions in the body, but reports speak of its potential to elevate mood, reduce stress, relieve pain, improve appetite, boost energy and focus, and more besides. It has been used to help manage conditions ranging from anxiety, chronic pain, psychosis, epilepsy, addiction, skin conditions and musculoskeletal disorders, and is even recommended to cancer patients as a way of alleviating pain and nausea from chemotherapy.
One distinction that is good to clarify is that CBD does not cause you to experience a “high” - what we call the altered state of euphoria and heightened sensory perception that is a key feature of cannabis consumption. That particular experience is attributed to another cannabinoid, tetahydrocannabinol (THC), which is usually excluded from CBD products. CBD is psychoactive, meaning that a dose will affect your brain and mental faculties, but only insofar as caffeine or painkillers are psychoactive. CBD actually has a positive effect on mental acuity and clarity, which is why a growing number of people are trying to incorporate this compound into their mindfulness practices.
CBD in Mindfulness: removing obstacles to meditation
One of CBD’s biggest attributes is its ability to calm and soothe the mind - it therefore seems like a no-brainer to use it in tandem with mindfulness meditation. In fact, CBD may aid in mindfulness on multiple fronts beyond this clear link via its effects on the mind and pain sensation in particular.
Firstly, CBD’s capacity as a therapeutic method for stress and anxiety is well-documented. When carrying out mindfulness or meditative practices, intrusive and persistent thoughts and worries can also arise and make achieving mindfulness very stressful. CBD is an effective means of dispelling and processing these thoughts healthily and thus reduce stress and anxiety levels. Research has also shown that CBD can calm overactivity in the brain and help modulate cognitive and emotional processing, all things that can contribute significantly to mindfulness.
It can also serve to elevate mood - many users report positive and relaxed moods with CBD consumption, which can help to balance emotions in people after particularly bad days and greatly ease the process of meditation. CBD also promotes awareness and focus, two attributes essential to mindfulness meditation, helping people to keep their thoughts in the moment and on their surroundings.
Another way CBD can aid mindfulness is by changing some physical sensations - in particular, it can banish drowsiness and soothe chronic pain. One of the major obstacles to successful meditation is drowsiness or tiredness, as a tired mind gets distracted more easily and has greater difficulty focusing or attaining clarity. Mindfulness simply requires a type of focus that is difficult to try and induce when you’re feeling in need of a good long rest. CBD, which can increase alertness and focus without being a stimulant, can allow you to focus and keep your mind on your present.
Chronic pain is a huge detriment to mood and mental state, as anyone who has experienced it can attest to, and whether it’s common leg cramps and aching joints or more serious conditions, pain is intrusive and can act as a big deterrent to meditation. CBD has been shown in many cases to be incredibly effective for helping individuals manage their pain, for localized pain in muscles but also for more system-wide chronic pains. Being able to sit and rest comfortably without distracting aches or spikes of agony can make your whole experience more smooth and help maintain your meditative state, from the preliminary calming of the mind to the end of the session.
Putting CBD into practice
The main way CBD can help with mindfulness meditation is by calming you down before you begin meditating and helping you control your thoughts and stay attentive throughout the session. CBD use won’t make or break your meditation - to actually put meditation into action is a process that necessitates time, effort, and practice on its own, even if your mental state is as balanced as can be. CBD can act as a supplement and guide you to access a more relaxed and stable state of mind, but it won’t help you cheat at meditation. Using guided meditation videos and apps and regularly carrying out sessions is the best way to get familiar with the process.
When using CBD, it’s also good to remember that results can vary greatly from person to person. Though CBD’s health benefits are scientifically proven, there hasn’t been much research into the intersection of cannabidiol and mindfulness practices, so many of the ideas surrounding the combination of these two come from anecdotal evidence.
The way you’re consuming CBD also matters a great deal when trying to get the most out of your CBD. Dosage is the most obvious way this may vary, but a crucial difference is in the method of consumption and the mechanism by which CBD enters the body. Topically-applied products, such as creams and lotions, can work for specific areas of the body when locally applied, but are slow to work and don’t affect your whole body. Taking CBD infused in food or drink also takes upwards of an hour to yield effects, as the compound needs to pass through the digestive system before it can take action in your body, and much of it is also broken down in the process thanks to the liver.
The fastest, most effective and efficient ways of consuming CBD are thus ways which negate the need to get through these obstacles, and access systemic circulation more directly. This includes sublingual tinctures, which are meant to be applied under the tongue to the sublingual gland, and vaping.
CBD Vaping: the best experience
Out of the existing methods of CBD delivery on the market, vaping stands out by handily outpacing the rest in sheer overall efficacy. You may think of vaping as just the safer, trendier alternative to smoking, but in dealing with cannabis and cannabis-derivatives vaping is quickly becoming known as one of the most efficient ways to consume these products.
When you vape CBD it comes in the form of CBD-infused vape oil, which is heated up in vape devices into the signature vapour. This vape oil is highly potent in CBD and usually free of nicotine, and many CBD vape manufacturers also endeavour to keep it clean of artificial additives and flavourings. The focus is usually on the beneficial effects of CBD and any other natural cannabinoids or terpenes included in the mixture.
Vaping CBD is one of the fastest of most effective methods of CBD consumption, with system-wide effects occurring within minutes of the first draw. This is all thanks to product design and the mechanism of delivery. By vaporising CBD vape oil, it is turned into an aerosol that you inhale easily. Here, it passes through your mouth down your airways, and into the lungs. As it comes into contact with the lining of the lungs, it is rapidly absorbed through the thin membrane there and is quickly diffused into the bloodstream, and can then freely spread through the circulatory system to destinations all over your body.
This allows for it to access vital physiological systems like the nervous system and immune system, where it acts on receptors and enzymes to induce its unique effects. This sort of system-wide effect is absolutely key if you want to use CBD for mindfulness, so CBD can work on the brain and mental faculties.
This all begins with a single breath, and with each successive inhale, more and more CBD enters your lungs in a steady and consistent dose. When CBD is absorbed in this manner it also means that it bypasses other physical barriers or processes that might impede its absorption or break it down, such as the skin and the liver, so much less CBD is lost along the way. When you compare the amount of CBD in the product to the amount that actually enters systemic circulation - otherwise known as bioavailability - CBD vaping allows 34 to 46% to make it the whole way, which is a significantly higher proportion than other methods.
Because of this, vaping CBD allows for you to maximise the wellness benefits and the experience of your CBD, and thus achieve and maintain mindfulness with greater ease.
As a last side note of interest to any regular cigarette or e-cigarette users, CBD vapes also show promise as a means of alleviating symptoms and pains of substance withdrawal. CBD itself is a non-addictive substance, so taking it long-term is far less detrimental to your wellbeing than other more addictive compounds.
Vaping your way to a balanced mind
Trawling through dispensaries and pharmacies or the online CBD marketplace in search of the right product can be a hassle, even if you know exactly what you’re looking for in a product. Here at Amphora, we can make that process easier for you - we offer a curated selection of innovative CBD vape cartridges, any of which can aid in your mindfulness journey.
Amphora CBD vape oils consist entirely of natural, organic CBD distillate, alongside all-natural flavoured and unflavoured terpenes to boost your wellness and which give our vapes their unique flavour profiles. Made from organically-grown hemp plants and extracted with cutting-edge supercritical carbon dioxide extraction technology, our CBD is procured in a potent, clean and pure form to be incorporated into our vape cartridges. All our products are tested to a medical standard and are free from THC and any artificial additives or toxins.
If you’re looking to balance yourself and take the edge off of your stress before meditation, we recommend you give our PEACE vape pen cartridge a try; or if you’d like some way to heighten your focus and give you greater control over your mind, our INSPIRE cartridge may be just what you need.
Written by | Infused Amphora Team
The Infused Amphora Team is dedicated to creating resources to educate and engage consumers on the growing evidence of CBD benefits and the extensive health and wellness properties of CBD oil.
Contributors | Angus Taylor + Dr Gaylord Wardell
IPI is a pharmaceutical ingredient company that cultivates cannabis strains curated to extract specific cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids for the formulation of effects-based health and wellness products. Angus is an experienced public speaker, engaging stakeholders, governments and media. Angus was the co-founder of NewLeaf Cannabis, Canada’s most successful retail brand to date, and has been established as a well-known and recognized expert in the field.
Dr Wardell is a practising physician with over 40 years of clinical and educational experience in pain management, medical practices and education. Dr Wardell is past President of the Pain Society of Alberta, and current President of the Alberta Medical Association, section of Pain. He is a popular public speaker, an active blogger on medical and pain-related issues, and proponent for scientific validation for patients experiencing pain.
Infused Amphora “Learn” is intended for informational purposes only and is NOT a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.