As we officially enter Autumn on September 23rd, we’re led into our shadows, into our subconscious, and deeper into the darkness that the season brings. This is when we give thanks to all the abundance that we’ve cultivated since spring, as well as observe the patterns, habits and attitudes that are serving us; and those that are not. For those of us who have an intimate relationship with cannabis, Fall can help us reassess the way we work with this plant medicine, and act accordingly if our relationship with it isn’t as healthy as it can be.
Cannabis is a miracle worker; whether you’re in it for the anti-inflammatory and healing effects of CBD, or for the creative and psychoactive benefits of THC, this is one plant that packs some potent power. As a daily cannabis user, I have found so many benefits to working with this earth medicine, and the healing effects of this plant. Not only do I like to work with cannabis to help ease my anxiety and stress, but I also enjoy it recreationally and to help me feel more present in my body. In this way, cannabis is an act of self-care for me; a way to honor myself, my spirit, and my mind.
But like anything else, moderation is key. There unfortunately comes a time when too much of a good thing becomes too much, and so I’m realizing with my own relationship to ganja. I recently started having an unexpected side effect when I would smoke weed; my heart wouldn’t only beat fast, but hurt. I also began to notice my lungs were feeling a bit off; and of course, this freaked me out! As a Priestess of the mystical, numinous, and mind-altering, I want to make sure I’m actually honoring my body and the medicine I put in it. So, I decided I would take a tolerance break to cleanse and reset, and instead of smoking once I was done, I would eat edibles to continue helping my lungs heal. But breaking a habit can be tough, and sometimes you have to ask for help!
So to get the most out of my high vibe tolerance break, I decided to hit up Ganja Goddess Jerico Mandybur; canna-authority at Miss Grass, author of the self-care infused Neo-Tarot, and spiritual coach for some advice we could all use. In the past, while she was working as Editorial Director for Girlboss, Jerico headed the Self-Service podcast, making self-care accessible for all. I knew Jerico would be the perfect 420-friendly witch to help all of us who need some TLC when quitting THC… for now.
Although some people taking a tolerance break may still wish to work with CBD, you may wish to opt for a non-full or broad spectrum CBD, so there’s not any THC in it at all. You may wish to not use CBD while you take this break either. Do what feels right for you, and then read on for some High Priestess approved tips for making the most out of your cannabis cleanse.
Get rid of all your weed and be compassionate to yourself
If you’re like me, and you love the ritual act of lighting up a joint or hitting the bong, then it can feel extremely challenging to quit cold turkey. This is especially true if you don’t drink, smoke cigarettes, or have another “vice.” For this reason, you may wish to slowly ween yourself off of cannabis before your cleanse, smoking less and less until you decide to actually quit. The easiest way to actually begin your cannabis cleanse, however, is to get rid of all your weed. Smoke it, give it to friends, and just make sure it’s not around. This will make the temptation to partake lessen and will hopefully get you in the right mindset to let that ish go. Also, letting any other cannabis loving friends know you’re going on a cleanse is a good way to not only keep yourself accountable, but to also avoid temptation and maybe even have a partner in cleansing while you’re at it.
Then, hold space for yourself in this process! If you’re a habitual cannabis user, then it can be tough to quit. But setting an amount of days you want to cleanse can help you keep your pledge. Although it can take up to two weeks to rid your body of THC if you smoke daily, if you’re not doing this to pass a drug test, then you don’t actually have to cleanse for that long. Start with committing to not using THC a week if you can, though two weeks to a month is optimal, but do what you can. Even five days is better than nothing; plus you can always keep going after you hit your intended goal.
Then remember to hold space for yourself. Do the best you can! Have compassion for yourself. Beating yourself up for slipping up isn’t going to help you. Just try your hardest and start again. And keep in mind why you’re doing this in the first place; whether it’s to reassess your relationship with cannabis, to heal your body, or to simply get a better high once you’re done.
Commit to self-care during your tolerance break
If you smoke a lot, it can be harder than expected to ditch the habit of indulging in some mind altering THC. But thankfully, you can get the same “high” from other practices and experiences. If you feel like you just want that one hit from a j, try thinking of an alternative self-care practice.
“My advice for people looking to self-care during a tolerance break is to lean into the things that give your mind and body a similar high, without the THC. That could look like running, hot yoga, kundalini meditation, chanting—anything that alters your consciousness and goes you a natural high,” explains Jerico. “Also, if microdosing psychedelics or taking a nootropic feels like a healthy alternative for you, try that! Do as many creative and therapeutic activities as you can, so you can fully integrate the experience and get as much out of it as you can. Treat it like a wellness retreat, basically.”
Cannabinoids bind to fat, which means that working out and moving your body, as well as eating healthy food and drinking a lot of water, can help you detox. Other practices you may wish to adopt can include taking a bath, going for a walk or run, stretching your body, meditating, masturbating or having sex, making some tea, or putting on a face mask. And just because you’re not smoking doesn’t mean you can’t work with CBD or topicals. Taking time to practice rituals of self-love can help you counteract symptoms of withdrawal you may be experiencing. Setting an intention for your tolerance break may also motivate you to keep going; whether it’s for health, clarity or to be radically honest about how your relationship with this plant is actually serving you, or not. Write this down, meditate with it when you’re feeling stressed, and give yourself some credit for even taking this step in the first place.
Commit to something new
You may also wish to use this tolerance break as an opportunity to commit to a project or something new. What book have you been longing to read, but haven’t had the time? What new venture or class were you dying to try but just weren’t motivated enough? Having something new and exciting to focus on when all you want to do is get high can help you be more present, aiding you in letting go of your need for weed. This commitment can take on many forms but make sure it’s something you’re excited about. Personally I’m going to commit to learning more about shibari, or erotic rope bondage, as an alternative to my nightly joints.
“Replace your regular smoking routine with a new routine and stick to it. If you used to punch a cone every night when you got home from work, find something equally relaxing that alters your brain chemistry when you get home from work,” suggests Jerico.”If you don’t expend your time and energy in new healthy ways, you’ll inevitably want to smoke. Don’t leave it to chance. Also, commit to do serious soul searching (therapy, journaling, etc.) around why you were over-dependent on it to begin with.”
Remember, the goal is for this cleanse, or tolerance break, is to uplift; so commit to practices that do this!
Meditate, work with your breath and take time to process
Just because you’re taking a tolerance break and not smoking doesn’t mean you can’t work with your breath. In fact, breathwork may turn into one of your biggest alleys. If you’re feeling particularly stressed or anxious and find yourself dreaming about your favorite strain, close your eyes and begin to connect to your breath. You may wish to practice the four-fold breath to help you find grounding and some clarity in the present moment. You’ll begin to inhale for four seconds, hold for four seconds, exhale for four seconds, and hold for four seconds before beginning again. You may wish to increase each part of the breath to five or six seconds, but start with four and see what works.
You also may wish to meditate- you can find guided meditations on youtube, or use an app like Insight Timer or Headspace if you rather practice a guided meditation and don’t know where to start. Taking time to meditate on your relationship to cannabis, and how it’s actually enhancing or diminishing your sense of well being is vital, especially as you ween yourself off of it.
Readjust your relationship with cannabis
“I had to have a big break from smoking cannabis when I was in my mid 20’s, not because I built up a tolerance but because I wasn’t aware of the nuance between responsibly self-medicating for an issue and trying to escape an issue by abusing the plant,” Jerico explains. Instead of seeing cannabis as its own form of self-care, Jerico suggests we reframe our relationship to the plant as an addition to the self-care practices we already have for ourselves. Cannabis can help enhance meditation, ritual baths, healing rituals, yoga classes, walks, journaling practices or whatever else you do to keep your mind and body healthy; but it’s not a replacement for this work.
“Cannabis is like a flavor that can be thoughtfully added to any of the self-care practices we have, that already work for us, to enhance them even more. It’s a lens to look at life through. And life is about balance,” Jerico reminds us.
You can reflect on this in meditation, with your eyes closed, as you get completely present with yourself and allow yourself to converse or connect with the cannabis plant and what it means to you, and why you use it. Or you can reflect through journaling and writing down whatever it is you’re feeling. Allow whatever comes up to come up, and use creative self-care practices like poetry, free-writing, doodling, collaging or whatever else helps you to process and and understand this relationship. Working with tarot and other forms of divination as a way to dive even deeper into this is also another alternative; Jericos’ deck “Neo Tarot” has a self-care practice for every single card, which makes it a perfect tool to work with as you untangle your patterns with weed, and whenever you’re feeling like you could really just use some THC.
Honor your body by treating it right
And last but not least, you may wish to add some other healthy habits to your routine. You’ve already started to explore your relationship with cannabis in a holistic way, and now you also want to make sure you’re treating yourself right! Taking supplements can help you get your lungs back to their fullest health as you let your bod detox from cannabis. Vitamin C and Magnesium can assist your body in repairing the lungs and vitamin E can help reduce anxious thoughts. You can also work with herbs like mullein, mushrooms like reishi, or herbal blends like this Lung Care Extract from Mountain Rose Herbs for optimal respiratory function. Drinking lots of water and moving your body are also important especially during a tolerance break.
No matter why you decide to take a little vacation from cannabis, just remember to do your best, give yourself compassion and to lean into rituals of self-care. And if you want even more stellar advice from Jerico to help, don’t forget to follow her on Instagram and visit her online. See you on the other side!