Throughout the ages within numerous cultures and tribes, it's been used as an entheogen, and no surprise there. Even the most primitive of humans felt a calling to something greater in this life, even when there were no words to label it. Sacred plants all over this planet have helped us experience this greatness in a direct way, revealing truths that can only be confirmed by an inner knowing, never by spoken word.
Now, a rewind back to those wake n' bake sessions...
So many impactful events unfolded next, and the first was 9/11. At this time, I was working in Center City, Philadelphia. As like many of us who are old enough to remember, I recall vividly where I was when I learned of the World Trade Center being hit. Everyone in my office went to the basement and turned on the news. I didn't see the first plane hit, but I watched live as the second hit. It was unreal, we were all speechless...I still get chills every time I think back to that moment. My father had recently retired and given the time it happened in the morning, he would've been having coffee up on the 107th floor, looking out upon Manhattan from the Windows of the World in the North Tower. So needless to say I was grateful for his retirement. Bless everyone who perished that day.
The way this event impacted me was unexpected. When my beloved and I began making a contingency plan for what we'd do and how we'd find each other if another act of terrorism happened that separated us in some way, the fragility of life really hit me for the first time. Visions of having nothing but what I pack in a backpack, finding shelter wherever I could, became regular images in my mind. I started asking myself penetrating questions I hadn't thought to ask before... Who am I underneath my conditioning? What do I really like? What do I really need? What have I become addicted to that I didn't realize I was addicted to? What would happen if I didn't have those things?
I had been using cannabis nearly daily at this point, and knowing what a gift it was in my life and how much I enjoyed the relationship I had cultivated with it, I asked myself what I would do if life changed drastically and I had no access to it...could I find this state of being without it?
Over the few months leading up to 9/11, I had been studying quantum mechanics which catalyzed a thought process - everything physical has a non-physical counterpart, its frequency. Is there a way to tap into this frequency without the use of the physical substance? Inside I felt a definite YES, so definite there was no room to question it. I tasked myself, however long it took, to find a connection with cannabis' non-physical aspect. (I've been on this journey ever since)
What unfolded over the next few years was magic - with the help of cannabis intermittently, I learned how to: move prana/qi (I didn't know these names for it at the time), unlock stagnation, identify limiting mental programs and stories, re-program new ones, question my beliefs/judgements/points of view, control my mind using the breath, and how it is 100% my choice how I feel inside. My mind and body were shifting in ways where I was able to hold the new alignments I was being guided into and no longer reached for cannabis as often. I shifted my relationship with this plant in the way it felt like it was asking me to. Rather than relying on it on a daily basis, I placed it in the category of a tool.
The analogy that first came to me when I did this made a lot of sense. When you wish to put a nail in the wall, you use something like a hammer to hit the nail until it's in the wall enough to do its job, then you put down the hammer...you don't keep banging the wall incessantly. In the same way, I'd only work with cannabis when I felt a need for extra guidance.
At this point in time, I gained a level of self-awareness that showed me instant physical effects of toxic thoughts and words. It became sickening to lie, to gossip, to speak negatively about myself whether out loud or in my mind. I had always been a people-pleaser, and began to feel a loss of energy when running this program.
I remember the first time I realized how heavy it felt to put something on my calendar because my mind said I "should" go. Instead of scheduling it, I became curious how things would unfold if I follow what my body is telling me, and learned later that week that everyone who went got caught in an accident on the only highway out of the city in that direction and missed the event altogether. From that point forward, especially when it came to my calendar, only appointments and events that lifted my spirits in some way made the cut...of course except for those mandatory necessities that were exempt from choice if I wished to keep my job, haha.
It wasn't until teacher training when we learned about the yamas and niyamas that I realized they were what cannabis had been guiding me to learn several years prior. I knew them intimately, I was already practicing them consciously on a daily basis and they were such a foundational aspect of this new person I was becoming, the me underneath the me I had been identifying as throughout my life.
This was a very short synopsis of how cannabis taught me yoga and to this day reminds me of what my soul already knows...that which this world, especially the western world, has done a great job at obscuring. The past two decades since have been a spiral around balance, sometimes hovering nearly at impeccable balance and other times spiraling far from balance. Whenever I found myself a bit too far from my ideal state of coherence and needing a helping hand, there have been two loving Marys on my path that are ready and willing to help, Mary my mom and Miss Mary J.