You might read this wonderful piece on the balancing benefits of marijuana knowing that the tide is apparently turning on this long dreaded subject. And if it really is turning, then the benefits for society will be incalculable.
I’m reminded of the first time I “got high,” back in the late ’60s. I thought to myself, “Oh my God this is how I want to be when I’m not high.” Right then and there I decided to dedicate my life to developing the self that appears when I smoke a few tokes of weed. For I knew, even then: “the larger, more relaxed, infinitely creative self is who I really am.”
And I’m reminded of the time a few years later when my brother John and I persuaded our Mom to take a few puffs. She did, and the ensuing conversation among the three of us was remarkable.
Then Dad came home from the office for lunch. We were all sitting there, obviously altered. He asked, “What’s going on?”
Mom, slapping her hand on the side of her rocking chair, looked up at her very strict German doctor husband and announced: “We’ve COME ALIVE.”
by Joan Bello
The Physical benefits of marijuana are far-reaching, widespread, and long-term. Because of the way marijuana impacts the Autonomic Nervous System which expands the breath and relaxes the body, its potential for health and healing are enormous, and have been completely unrealized by Western Medicine. The following passages are excerpted from The Benefits of Marijuana: Physical, Psychological, & Spiritual:
The simultaneous opposing action of marijuana is akin to balancing our entire system. Such balance in the ANS can be understood as a charged equilibrium, which is defined as “well-being” experienced as physiological expansion and psychological contentment and responsible for health.
The net effect is a highly functioning, yet relaxed, system with better fuel. This is why, with marijuana, the feeling is both relaxed and alert, which explains, in part, the experience of being “stoned.” Normally the body vacillates between the two opposing modes of being. The effects of the complicated marijuana molecule somehow actually integrate these two modes, simultaneously, as absolutely nothing else does.
Although specific effects of marijuana in the body are well known, each has been taken in isolation without noting that both sides of the Autonomic Nervous System are conjoined. Instead of a perspective that sees the whole person and the simple holistic effect of marijuana, a myopic and reductionistic method of measurement has been employed, and marijuana’s profound meaning for health has been lost.
Marijuana, by its effect on the ANS, enhances both sides of the brain. Through increased Sympathetic action, left brain perception is heightened, while, at the same time, right brain reception is enhanced.
This is a physiological fact. More blood, and cleaner blood, is sent to the brain, as in the “fight or flight” reaction. And because of Parasympathetic dilation of capillaries, which signifies relaxation, the blood supply to the entire brain is increased. More blood means more oxygen and consequently clearer and broader thinking. Since marijuana works on both sides of the brain, the most noticeable effect, in our fast-paced mind set, is one of slowing down, which blends the thrusting competitive attitude with the contrasting viewpoint of nurturance to arrive at a more cooperative balance.
This experience is, however, not innate to marijuana, but to the mental set of the subject. When we are mellow, tired, and relaxed, marijuana is energizing and affords alertness, determination, and even strength. This variation in the physiological effects has caused great confusion from an either/or framework. And the balancing nature of marijuana (both/and) has not been understood. It both stimulates and relaxes, simultaneously, which equates to an unpredictable variation in effect that is solely dependent on the state of its subject. When the system is sluggish, as with natives in warm climates (Africa, India, South America), marijuana has been used extensively and for centuries to energize it:
A common practice among laborers… have a puff of a ganja (marijuana) pipe to produce well-being, relieve fatigue, stimulate appetite. (Chopra and Chopra, 1939, p.3)
When the system is hyper-aroused, as in today’s lifestyle, marijuana calms. The significance of this fact cannot be ignored. It explains the increased creativity reported as a part of the marijuana experience, because when both sides of brain processes are heightened, both types of brain activity are greater. The left brain notices more, while the right brain receives more. This is the unification of logic and intuition. The term “expansion of consciousness” is explained physiologically as a “shifting of brain emphasis from one-sidedness to balance” (Sugarmena and Tarter, 1978), which fits precisely with the feeling called “high.”
Marijuana ingestion has been shown to change the worried state by producing alpha waves, experienced as well being.
When we ingest marijuana, the heart swells through capillary enhancement and is fueled more by more fully oxygenated blood, while, at the same time, its contractions and expansions are greater, allowing for stronger pumping action to the rest of the body
As rigidity in the body is released or reduced by the action of marijuana, there is a corresponding reduction of mental tension that translates into a feeling of expansion and well being and explains the reverential attitude commonly expressed by marijuana lovers.
As the body’s workings can become more harmonious with marijuana, the functioning of the five senses can be noticeably improved ….In our discussion, the trigger to the high experience is marijuana, but many other activities can also produce it, such as jogging, chanting, fasting, isolation, meditation, and prayer.
The marijuana experience itself does not miraculously cure. Instead, it allows the body a respite from the tensions of imbalance, while exposing the mental confusion of the mind. The marijuana experience of balance becomes a learned and, over time, somewhat permanent response as the essential human tendency to homeostasis is reawakened and the natural healing process restored.
For a serious psychosomatic disease such as cancer, the benefits to be derived from marijuana cannot be overstated:
1. The causal element of unconscious (repressed) pain can be ferreted out.
2. The breath can be restored to fullness, thereby eliminating directly the built up toxicity and, at the same time, enjoining balance throughout the whole organism. A depressed system is a weakened system, and since it works holistically, marijuana gives strength where weakness exists, and expansion and relaxation where there is contraction and nervousness.
3. The more richly oxygenated blood that is in effect with marijuana can help to cleanse the poisons at the cellular level.
4. And a broader perspective through activation of the entire brain leads to positive feelings and thus eliminates the usual and debilitating attitudes so common in cancer —helplessness, depression, fear, resignation, and dread.
Application of Marijuana:
In a Costa Rican study, it was found that chronic marijuana smokers who also smoked cigarettes were less likely to develop cancer than cigarette smokers who didn’t use marijuana. Since marijuana (smoking, as well as ingestion by other methods) dilates the alveoli, toxins are more easily eliminated with cannabis use regardless of its method of application. Nicotine, on the other hand, constricts the alveoli, so it is likely that the use of cannabis neutralizes, or even overwhelms the constriction, by its own tendency to dilation …As an aid for all psychosomatic disease, marijuana can benefit the participant, generally because of its health-restoring effects… The fear of marijuana… stems from its limitless potential for treating illness, in that both the pharmaceutical industry and the medical monopoly would lose billions of dollars if marijuana became the non-drug of choice.
When we balance the Autonomic Nervous System, there is an effect on the mind that is both energizing and relaxing SIMULTANEOUSLY. In other words, we can think more clearly and more efficiently.
Natural feelings of expansion that correspond to favorable perceptions, such as a sense of accomplishment, are experiences common to us all, What makes marijuana unique and beneficial is its ability to summon these states of well-being at will .
We might suggest that those hundreds of millions of people around the world who face marijuana to experience higher levels of life, do so specifically because of the great import they ascribe to being “ high,” i.e., feeling better, happier, more expansive, and therefore more tolerant and compassionate.
Whereas marijuana results in an “altered state of consciousness,” the depressant drugs have been described as producing “altered states of unconsciousness” (Sugerman and Tarter), allowing for relaxation without awareness.
Marijuana exposes things. When used over a period of time, it allows us to witness our many subtle motives which, under normal consciousness, are usually not noticeable.
It was just this catalytic effect of marijuana to expose the unconscious and increase the patient’s vulnerability, while maintaining awareness and understanding that prompted psychologists (in the 1960s and 1970s) to utilize marijuana extensively in the therapeutic studies before the government ban.
With the expansiveness that occurs with marijuana, the subject may begin to notice infinite possibilities to raise the quality of his/her life that would otherwise have remained hidden from normal, defensive consciousness. And feelings of health and happiness naturally lead to hope, which of itself can be curative.
Marijuana can act as the loosening agent, so that whatever has been banned from consciousness may come cascading forth. To uncover our deceptions without our usual rationalizations can be unpleasant, an experience that has turned many psychologically fragile individuals away from marijuana despite its therapeutic catharsis.
Regardless of the model used, marijuana resolves conflict by de-emphasizing extreme aggressiveness and stroking the receptive sides of human nature. This unification or balance, however, may be responsible for changes in goals and values. It Is the healthy balancing nature of marijuana that is most beneficial to the individual and most threatening to modern society.
When it first became popular in the West, marijuana was imported mainly from tropical zones, where the sativa strain of cannabis is indigenous. This type of marijuana is known for its “cerebral high,” having little noticeable body participation.
No studies concerning the different effects of sativa vs. indica have been done, but from the lack of physical sensation, it is reasonable to assume more Sympathetic or stimulant qualities in sativa than indica (a cooler climate type). This is compatible with the notion that in hotter climates, less calming is desirable from a recreational substance, since hot climates in themselves cause lethargy. Many connoisseurs of marijuana prefer the sativa high, although in the last decade it has become very scarce due to domestic cultivation of strains that thrive in temperate zones (and indoors). “Cerebral highs” are experienced as lightness of thought beyond usual concern with self esteem. In relationships, a cerebral high attunes the participants to a less separate sense of themselves. Conversation is animated and a general feeling of camaraderie is in the air.
The indica strain of cannabis offers more of the “body high.” Depth rather than height best describes the subjective experience. Rather than freedom in the mind, the felt sensation is freedom of the body. This state more closely mimics deep relaxation. Thought patterns do not approach the clarity of thought of a “cerebral high.” In contrast, the “body high” is similar to the reverie that precedes sleep. While thinking may be diminished, more sensitivity to nonverbal experiences, such as music and color, comes into play. Physiologically, a true “body high” probably is the result of more Parasympathetic input. Participants ofen become quieter, since internal silence predominates.
Indica thrives in temperate areas, and as such it has become more popular with the American marijuana farmer. It is a shorter variety, thus it is more suited for the limits of indoor gardens and comes to fruition earlier in outdoor gardens. In less tropical zones, recreational substances are compatible with tempering the bustle usual to cooler climate cultures. As horticultural interest has grown, a cross between the indica and sativa species of cannabis has given the modern marijuana user the subtleties of both strains. Nowadays quality marijuana, grown in the US, is usually a hybrid of the indica and sativa varieties.
Marijuana will not tolerate repression. Tranquilizers and depressants relax the body and release tension, but the state of mind associated with these drugs is “unconsciousness” whereby we escape rather than resolve our dilemmas. Alcoholism is an extreme need of both the body and personality periodically to release the nervousness that has accumulated and continues to accumulate to an unbearable degree. It serves the same function for the collective personality for the society, as well a culture in which alcohol and tranquilizers are the prevalent form of release prefers not to witness internal confusion and actually choose to act without conscious participation, maintaining a semi-numb condition.
That which enlivens is understood as the SPIRIT. In these times of secular values, when the life force is not recognized as being an expression of the holy, when in fact, the notion of a plane of existence beyond the material is not acknowledged, the search for meaning nevertheless perseveres.
Today, in these darkest of times, hundreds of millions who pursue the journey inward to the universal core values, find that marijuana facilitates the search. As a religious sacrament, intuitively recognized by all for whom the sacred beckons, marijuana has been employed for thousands of years, crossing all geographical and ethnic barriers. Marijuana not only balances the body, and enhances our mental processes, it can also help (some of) us to perceive the abiding reality by raising our consciousness.
Meditation Is the ultimate tool for self-knowledge In the East, marijuana has been used to facilitate the process for millennia.
The uncovering of inner confusion, so prominent with marijuana, is conspicuously absent with depressants. As the overall benefits of insightfulness obtained from its use lead to a greater freedom, marijuana is shunned by individuals who need a status quo in the personality or social position.
Sigmund Freud developed and expounded the understanding that we mechanically base our actions on programs devised throughout life, and many esoteric schools, ancient and modern, have taught the same. Being aware of these programs is very difficult since ordinary consciousness has within it the conspiracy to keep the mind comfortable and free of conflict This operates collectively as well as individually. Whenever confronted, this usual state of mind automatically assumes a defensive posture by relying on distorted rationalizations, which are evident in a repressive and intolerant social order.
By contrast, the open and aware consciousness often leads to spiritual realizations, irrelevant in mainstream thinking. In today’s world, this understanding is uncommon. Higher morals and ethics, as propounded by organized religions, are agreed upon by the masses, especially during church attendance, but are otherwise too difficult to maintain when personal survival is at stake. Universal spiritual values, so often released with marijuana, can break down the conditioned defensive mentality.
It appears as if society, as well as the programmed, individual mind, needs to hold in check the notion that we love our neighbor as ourselves. There is no way that we can love our neighbor as ourselves, nor any way that our economy can subscribe to a policy of cooperation, when the very life of business enterprise is dependent upon “profit first and foremost.” Cooperation within free enterprise is a difficult reality so long as “me first” remains the primary motivation. A neurotic society, with its deeply imbedded habit of maladaptive coping methods, is resistant to change. Marijuana can be of tremendous benefit in exposing the distorted perspectives responsible for social, class, and racial conflict It can open the “doors of perception,” and thereby after the very core of the personality, by allowing a view of the transcendent values of human life.
In the area of private values, marijuana may offer benefits beyond the personal ego, which reach the dimension referred to by mystics and saints as the ever-present “now.” The experience addresses states of consciousness not common to the common man and resembles Maslow’s “peak experience.”
To ascend the ladder of consciousness, human beings need as much help as they can get. Levels of consciousness above concerns of personal survival and power are neither necessary for human life, nor visible from ordinary states. Because these higher degrees of awareness threaten the power structure, all paths to them are often outlawed. If we are not taught by some older, wiser person that deep and timeless perceptions really exist (or unless we ourselves fortuitously catch a glimpse of these subjective realities), we remain ignorant of their existence and are easily molded into the lower social goals of materialism, competition, and power. This less enlightened state is expressed by a constant gnawing dissatisfaction. It is the dimension of perennial desire. With each fulfillment of a goal /need / want, another void erupts. In Buddhism, it is the realm of nightmarish, insatiable hunger, which cannot be resolved unless or until the being attains to a less self-centered level. Deep within each of us, an essential need for a higher meaning of life waits to be awakened. Because of its ability to unlock this yearning and allow us a glimpse of the deeper reality, marijuana is feared by the establishment and loved by the user.
It is mainly because spiritual values are abandoned during eras of materialism that marijuana is banned today. And, ironically, it is because these values are so absent in the modern culture that the marijuana experience is so ardently sought.
Perhaps investigation into the higher human values could not surface in the industrial West until all imaginable physical, psychological, and social dysfunction reached dangerous proportions.
The Christian mystic de Chardin, explaining this same process, says, “physical energy must be mastered and grounded for spiritual energy to move, because physical energy transforms the spirit.” (Ferguson) Within the deep recesses of human understanding, the intuitive faculty steers its course. For many who are in touch with this sixth sense, the realm of the spirit is supreme. Anything that demonstrates a possibility for psycho/spiritual uplifting is known to be sacred. Marijuana is so recognized and revered. “Bhang brings union with the Divine Spirit.” (Indian Hemp Commission)
“Through balance, with time and interest, marijuana can enliven the Center of Knowing.” In the Theory of Vibration, this is the sixth level of development known as the “Knowledge Center.” What we refer to as the sixth sense, or intuition, derives from this esoteric symbol, which very often is depicted as a third eye, located at the midbrow.
As we have seen, many an argument against marijuana refers to the non-competitive nature it engenders. During the Vietnam War, one of the major problems of our soldiers was their inability to accept the brutality of their own actions. Our young men encountered marijuana at every turn in Asia (the Vietnam War was the beginning of marijuana use in this country, since it was the first time a status and educational cross section of America was exposed to it), and their reaction was often not in keeping with the insensitivity necessary for war. Their conscience bothered them.
Gaining higher values, such as compassion, cooperation, and consideration, is a function of balance and a threat to a militaristic society. If we all became aware of our conscience, who would be left to maintain the indifference of the social order? The more we uncover the spiritual element in our natures, the more sensitive we become. Scrooge had no conscience until he experienced the spirit He was surely happier and healthier after his vision, but not wealthier, for his conscience dictated that he share. His new-felt sensitivity did not result from rules, fear, or his superego. It overflowed joyfully as an expression of his higher state of being.
Marijuana’s contribution to the developing spirit is cumulative. As bodily tensions are reduced mental fears dissolve, clearing the way to greater insight But, until the direct effect (physical balance) of marijuana on the body and the attendant side effect (high) of marijuana on the mind become familiar, the alterations themselves remain the focus of interest.
The “getting high” is the end in itself, rather than the understanding and insight that accrues a s the changed set becomes more a common. People who try marijuana and reject it do so usually because they feel uncomfortable and confused in altered, fuller consciousness. Instead of life being safely framed by the rigidity of the societal dogma, the world becomes unfamiliarly bigger, brighter, fuller, yet less manageable, more unpredictable and full of mystery. A mind that has been bound and accustomed to a low charge or a selling without light very often finds the expansiveness of reality too highly energized. The light can be blinding and disorienting. Over time, and with regular intake, when these higher states of seeing are no longer the focal point of attention, a restructuring of values may emerge.
Joan Bello, author of The Benefits of Marijuana: Physical, Psychological & Spiritual, is incredibly courageous and brilliant in her presentation of marijuana as the SUPREME HOLISTIC MEDICINE. Her hypothesis, that marijuana balances the Autonomic Nervous System — which then sets the stage for health beyond the ordinary — is in keeping with the tenets of Yoga Science. Her expertise was garnered through vigorous academic training in a specialized Master of Science Program accessible to only a few hand-chosen students. She is fulfilling her mandate of bringing the Eastern wisdom to the West in this revolutionary handling of the abiding connection between esoteric discipline and the state of consciousness fostered with marijuana. This is a book to spark the interest of the skeptical and awaken hope for those suffering the ills of modern civilization. The author contrasts today’s competitive, acquisitive lifestyle with the state of ease encouraged by marijuana.