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Cannabis and Spirituality- A Conversation with author Stephen Gray

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Join us in this elevating episode of the Wake + Bake podcast: Cannabis and Spirituality – where we engage in a profound conversation with author and spiritual guide Stephen Gray. 

In this episode, we delve deep into the spiritual realms that cannabis can open up.

Stephen shares his extensive experience in leading cannabis ceremonies and paints a vivid picture of how this fascinating plant can assist in meditation and self-introspection.

Our conversation stretches from discussing the potential incorporation of cannabis in organized religions and church services to exploring the practice of kundalini activation in the context of cannabis use. 

Stephen also touches upon the optimal dosage and frequency for spiritual cannabis use, providing handy insights for anyone looking to explore this path.

In addition, we delve into Stephen’s seminal work – “Cannabis and Spirituality”, enriching the discussion with the knowledge and insights contained within the fascinating compilation of essays.

Whether you’re a seasoned cannabis user, a spiritual seeker, or just someone interested in the deeper aspects of this ancient plant, this episode promises to provide new perspectives and profound realizations. 

Remember to like, comment, share and subscribe to stay updated with our latest content.

Show Resource Links:

Buy Cannabis and Spirituality from Corinne’s Bookstore: https://bookshop.org/a/78703/9781620555835

Stephen’s Website:  ⁠stephengrayvision.com⁠

Stephen’s Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/stephengrayvision

Become a Certified Cannabis Educator in as little as 12 Weeks and get paid to talk and write about cannabis: ⁠cannabiscoachinginstitute.com/ccep⁠

Use the code WAKEANDBAKE for $30 off at Ardent Cannabis: ⁠https://wakeandbake.co/ardent-cannabis⁠

Visit Andrea at Reveal Cannabis: ⁠www.revealcannabis.com⁠

Email us with questions and requests at [email protected] 

Transcript of Ep 207

This week on the Wake + Bake podcast. 

Stephen Gray: well, where to start? I think it started in Tibet about 1, 500 years ago, but that’s another story.

 cannabis, I think of as a, as an energy medicine.

Stephen Gray: It works on the mind, body, spirit level simultaneously, but it has to include the somatic, the body level.

Corinne Tobias: You’re already anxious. You’re already paranoid. You’re already these things and it’s just bringing it to the top so that you can navigate that so that you can move through it 

Stephen Gray: Reports of people saying, my 

God, I’ve never known cannabis could do that. 

Corinne Tobias: there’s a lot of talk about what to do if you’ve taken too much and you’re feeling these. things and none of them are “sit with your thoughts. Let the thought rise.”

Stephen Gray: banish the ego, beat it over the head or whatever

that’s why it’s in my view, an advanced or powerful, spiritual ally in that way, 

Corinne Tobias: Quakers. You can infiltrate that. You could do Presbyterian. There’s a beautiful Presbyterian church 

Stephen Gray: the optimal dose is the dosage that you both want to and can handle, 

Corinne Tobias: The problem with most drugs is that people don’t do enough of them and they do them too often.

Stephen Gray: Because it actually wants to take you into reality believe it or not.

There’s a great potential that’s untapped in almost all human beings. 

Corinne Tobias: , welcome to the wake and bake podcast. My name is Corinne Tobias, and unfortunately my cohost, Andrea Maharg is out. Sick this week, not to worry. We have a brand new spanking episode for you that came out of last night’s book club about cannabis and spirituality. This is a book. If you’re, if you’re watching this on video on YouTube, I’m holding it up right now.

It’s cannabis and spirituality and explorers guide to an ancient plant. It’s an incredible book, a compilation of many different authors, many different practitioners coming together to discuss cannabis and spirituality. What was really cool about last night’s book club is that it wasn’t just a discussion between all of us who had read the book.

We actually had the author and editor Steven gray on to talk about cannabis and spirituality, 

We also covered how to hold space for people in cannabis ceremony and in guided cannabis meditation. So if you’re a practitioner or if you’re a health and wellness professional, in some way, this is going to be really potent stuff for you. He actually has a chapter in his book about how to create cannabis ceremonies.

And we would love to see this. Work expand and for as many people to be out there, introducing people to the plant in this way as possible. So go ahead and check out that book and tune into what he says about that, about midway through the conversation. We also talk about some basics and some ways to navigate cannabis and meditation, ways to think about cannabis meditation, how to prepare yourself for those kinds of things.

We hope you love this conversation. It was so much fun to have, and we just started getting so many messages in the inbox this morning.

Like, Hey, can I get the replay? Can I get the replay that we decided to release it as a podcast? I hope you love it so much that you want to share it with somebody else. Please do. We couldn’t exist without you. So please share this podcast. We love hearing from you. So also email us at [email protected] and, that’s it. Let’s get started.

Andrea Meharg: Welcome to our December book club, our last book club of the year and something that we have been eagerly awaiting here at CCI. Actually, since April, so, yeah, we’ve been waiting for this and been really excited for this for a long time.

So thank you everyone. for joining. We have the editor, author of Cannabis and Spirituality with us here today, Stephen Gray, so that’s wonderful. Okay. Before we dive all the way in.

Corinne, let’s talk about who this book club is sponsored 

Corinne Tobias: by. Yes. This book club, our final book club of book club season is brought to you by the Cannabis Coaching Institute. We are currently enrolling for the Certified Cannabis Educator Program, a newly internationally accredited program. We are very excited about that.

It’s a 12 week program that gives you everything you need to get paid to teach others about cannabis. Um, you can do that in a variety of different ways, um, workshops, um, by doing podcasts. blog posts by doing nerdy stuff like book club. Um, all good ways to spread the word and get paid doing it. So if you’ve always been thinking about joining us again, now is the time we’ve heard that a lot.

We had a lot of new students join us in November. Um, so it should be a really fun cohort to join along with. so yeah, if you have any questions about the program, just let me know. You can pop it in the chat or send them to support at cannabiscoachinginstitute. com. That’s awesome. 

Andrea Meharg: And let’s introduce ourselves.

So I’m Andrea Maharg. I am a certified cannabis coach and educator living in awesome Ontario, Canada. Although the BC Canada people are always trying to get me to move out there. Um, and I have been teaching about this plant for five years and it’s a joy every day to do this kind of work and be able to meet with other awesome nerdy people like you on a Monday night and chat about it.

And you Corinne? 

Corinne Tobias: I’m Corinne Tobias. I’m the founder of Wake and Bake and the Cannabis Coaching Institute. I’ve been doing this work for, we’re going on year 11 now. Um, started out with sharing healthy cannabis recipes with folks and then evolved into, a weed nerd kind of career. 

I’m so. So excited for this particular book club. And, uh, if you’ve been with us for, for most of book club this season, you know, that we’ve been tackling some like huge topics, right? We’ve been talking about, social justice and equity. We’ve been talking about the nerdy side of cannabis and how is it medicine.

, and today we’re going to cover something that we’ve never covered in the, you just really don’t see necessarily a lot covered, especially by the academic community or the educator community. And that is this topic of cannabis and spirituality. I’m so excited that we’re here doing this today. So thank you all for being here.

Okay, 

Andrea Meharg: let’s introduce the the main event of the show, Stephen. We are so excited to have you here. Can you introduce yourself and tell us why, like, how did this book come about, 

Stephen Gray: please?

Oh, well, where to start? I think it started in Tibet about 1, 500 years ago, but that’s another story. Um, uh, anyway. Uh, well, uh, I’m from the generation that where psychedelics, including cannabis, first really exploded onto the scene in the Western world, in North America and Western Europe in particular. So I’ve been interested in cannabis since I was about 18, which is around the fir When it first appeared, actually, I mean, now it’s like you, as soon as you can, uh, you know, smell it, you can find it anywhere, right?

Um, but, uh, but in that, at that time, it was just coming on board in the very late, near the end of the 1960s and so on. Um, and I was just really interested in it. Uh, I just, you know, basically, you know, growing up in white Anglo Saxon Protestant, uh, Ontario, Canada, uh, in the, uh, late 1950s and through the 1960s, uh, anything.

Was more interesting than that. So I, I was very interested in all that. I was also very, uh, so there was one thing I’ll try to be as brief as possible about this. Uh, there was, there was a, there was a kind of a phenomenon, you might say, a cultural phenomenon that happened.

 That kind of got up my way in the near the end of the 1960s and was quite influential in the early part of the 1970s. And, um, that was a kind of, a co mingling or dovetailing of interest in spiritual issues, particularly of the East, like of Asia, like Hinduism, Buddhism, and so on with an explosion of interest in psychedelics.

Uh, and I was interested in all of that, both of it. So not everyone. And that’s still the case today. I’m sure, um, that is interested in taking a psychedelic, is interested in their spiritual use. Some Some people might just be interested in for the, you know, the thrill or whatever. Um, but I was always interested in that aspect of it.

And so that just became a theme in my life. There was another thing going on around, for the people that had explored. Psychedelics and found them to be quite, revelatory, uh, you know, perhaps you had an experience of the divine or whatever.

 So then this idea went around, which was, you’ve had these revelatory experiences, but what are you going to do now? You know, you have to ground that into your daily life. So for many people, it became a spiritual practice. And for me, that was Tibetan Buddhism. But, I always was always interested.

I actually left off smoking cannabis for about 10 years because nobody around me in the Buddhist community was, but then I got reinterested in psychedelics in the late 1980s through the work of Terence McKenna, who brought those two themes back together, ancient spiritual use of psychedelics. I kind of got more interested in the spiritual use of cannabis that way as well. 

Corinne Tobias: You just mentioned Terrence McKenna and one of my questions is about something that he said once that kind of rattles around in my mind when, um, I’m thinking about, cannabis and spirituality and one of the things that he, I believe it was him who said it, but basically that in a nutshell, it was like the problem with most drugs is that people don’t do enough of them and they do them too often.

Right. And so he was more of a proponent for higher doses. Um, I remember him listening to him talk about how micro dosing, you’re just going to end up being weird and, yeah. ostracized from your community, right? He didn’t, I didn’t think that that was the way to go about it. He really believed that you should be in a setting where you should be taking doses that would reveal you to yourself or to some kind of higher truth.

And I’m curious that because you just mentioned him, um, what you think about that in terms of cannabis. Do you think that there’s, if someone’s just starting out with cannabis, if they’re not a medical cannabis user and using it daily, Is it best to have the experience and go all the way and be in a guided setting?

Or is it best to ease in and take, you know, use some cannabis meditation, some of the practices outlined in your book? 

Stephen Gray: Yeah, that’s an interesting and kind of big question, to be honest. First of all, Clearly, not everyone is going to see cannabis, uh, use the way I do.

Uh, if you want to use it for spiritual use, I would, you said something, you know, that Terrence had said was, um, Higher dose, but less frequent, right? More, more or less. Yeah, I think that’s important if that is your intention with cannabis. You know, I have no judgment about people using it for numerous other purposes, of course.

 If you want to explore, you know, the, the spiritual dimensions of it, the spiritual opening. You might say might be a slightly more descriptive term, uh, potential of cannabis. I think it’s best if you leave it alone for, from my personal experience, at least three days, um, and preferably longer, you know, start treating it like you would any, I mean.

Cannabis is a psychedelic when you use it that way, uh, and Terence said that too, cannabis, um, has nearly all of the same effects as other psychedelics when used appropriately in a sufficient dosage, you know? So, um, so, so frequency I think is really important.

Give it some space because As you guys probably know, the endocannabinoid system gets satiated. The technical term is down regulation, right? So the, endocannabinoid receptors get full to use a lay person’s way of describing it.

Um, and they take some, some time to clear out, you know, It’s not doesn’t clear out right away, you know, so from my point of view, to use it to go deeper, it’s important or valuable to give give it some space. Okay. So then as far as dosage, that’s a, that’s a kind of a complex one. And I, I wouldn’t say I, you know, I have an answer that’s carved in stone or anything like that, but my standard kind of answer about that one is yeah.

Um, again, we’re talking about use for spiritual use, um, uh, is the optimal dose is the dosage that you both want to and can handle, okay? So want to is do you want to just do a little bit? Because if you just do a little bit, I mean, some people might call it a microdose. I don’t know. I don’t even use that term for cannabis myself.

Like one toke or whatever, uh, but a light high might be a way that I would describe that. It can help with meditation. Uh, if you can calm the mind, it can help you, you know, relax and calm and, and then if you’re going to meditate, then it can be good for that, but then if you want to go deeper, if you want to go into the deeper end of the pool, you want to have more.

Uh, and so the can handle part is how much can you stay calm, open. openhearted, present, not completely, you know, obsessed or compulsively thinking constantly. a basic core central Buddhist teaching is that, um, while of course we need our thinking mind as a tool, , the tricky part of all that is that the thinking mind is also the ego’s primary strategy for obscuring the awakened state. So we tend to think compulsively, or like overlapping thinking, and that creates a kind of an ink cloud or fog cloud or veil between us. And what many traditions would call the awakened state, whether whatever language they use, right?

Um, so, um, I think it’s really important to recognize that you can go deep with cannabis, uh, and it can really open things up. Many psychedelics are referred to as non specific or unspecific amplifiers. And cannabis. You know, can be considered in that way as well that it opens things up it and it hand enhances it deepens and empowers But then it’s it’s a tool, you know So the the the stronger the dose the more of a powerful tool it is that way and the more challenging it becomes Because it actually wants to take you into reality believe it or not.

I don’t know how the folks watching This feel that way about it. One guy’s laughing there. So he likes it, I guess, uh, I want to say that a lot of people don’t like cannabis. You know, you guys know this, I’m sure.

Um, they don’t like it because they don’t like what goes on in their thinking mind, right? They don’t like where it takes their thinking mind to get paranoid or self sabotaging thinking or whatever, right? So this is, this is where I’m saying the can handle part is like, what is the dosage at which you can stay present for?

You can pay attention to your breath without obsessing over it, of course. You can stay centered in your seat or whatever, and, um, open your heart, open your mind, and let it take you into a deeper space. Okay, I could say way more, but let me stop there in case you have another question you want to ask. 

Corinne Tobias: I do actually have a follow up question because you mentioned that, uh, the paranoia and that’s why people don’t like it.

And we do hear that a lot, anxiety, paranoia, these feelings states that people don’t want to have. And I remember when I was very early on in all of this talking to people about cannabis and spirituality, and I heard many people say, well, those things that you’re feeling Are you would already be feeling that way.

That’s your, okay. I was curious if that’s, that’s your perspective on that as well. 

Stephen Gray: Exactly. No, completely.

 I think of cannabis, uh, potentially, not, it’s not always going to be that way, of course, as a reality medicine. It actually wants you to see what’s true, what’s going on. And so, the paranoia, uh, you know, some people may disagree with me, fine, you know, I’m not going to make any dogmatic statements about this, but my, my view of paranoia with cannabis is, Basically, just what you said, Corinne, is that, we carry around these fears, but in our sort of quote unquote sober state, where most of us are able to keep them at bay and focus on other things, right?

So, cannabis potentially brings those to the surface, um, and that’s why it’s in my view, an advanced or powerful, spiritual ally in that way, because it actually wants to soften the ego. It actually wants to help you dissolve the ego and just be present that way. But that’s scary for all of us, you know, and again, I could go on about this a long time because it’s basic Buddhist teaching, but the simplest way I can put it for the moment is that the ego, and this is not Like a judgmental thing about the ego, you know, and, you know, banish the ego, beat it over the head or whatever the ego from a, from a psychological Buddhist type perspective or definition is the voice in our head, so to speak, that by which we have created our version of reality, but it’s all up here.

It’s all beliefs. It’s all concepts. It’s the things we’ve shipped on from our culture and our parents and so on. So we create this kind of little package of what we think is reality, but it’s not. It’s a story, or it’s a collection of stories, right? But we’re very attached to it. With good reason, you know, anyone who has coped with life more or less coped with it pretty much because we created a package, so to speak, that was functional enough to cope with, right?

However, at a certain point, you begin to realize, that it’s limiting. You know, um, it’s just what you’ve believed about what’s real and, and unreal and true and not true and safe and unsafe and possible and not possible, et cetera, et cetera. But it’s extremely limiting as people who are like the great mystics would remind us, you know, there’s, there’s a great potential that’s untapped in almost all human beings.

So where cannabis comes in with that and why, again, it can be scary. and induce paranoia is because it’s threatening , that package, that ego, right? But, and so you have to be able to let it go. And this is basic meditation, basic universal meditation teaching is that, let’s say you’re sitting down to meditate.

You just watch the thoughts that arise. And don’t judge them. That’s the key, right? No praise, no blame is what they used to say, you know, when we did our sit down practice. Don’t praise, it’s not, doesn’t matter what it is. Whether you think you’re the greatest person in the world, or you just came up with the greatest idea in the world, or you think you’re, you know, the lowest.

You just sit with it. You just watch the thoughts and let them go and you realize you are not the thoughts. And where cannabis comes in is it can clarify and enhance and amplify and deepen that process. Again, that’s why it’s a potentially a powerful ally and also a scary ally.

Corinne Tobias: I love that so much. And I’m seeing, I know we have a lot of cannabis educators and people who are doing this professionally on the call. And there’s a lot of talk about what to do if you’ve taken too much and you’re feeling these. things and none of them are sit with your thoughts. Let the thought rise.

Is that what you would say to someone who, even if it wasn’t using cannabis as a spiritual tool, could, would you say this works? Even, even if you’re out and about and you’re like, well, this is too much. You maybe you should. Let the thoughts rise and go and feel your feelings until they shift and that kind of Do you think that would be helpful for people 

Stephen Gray: great question actually and again?

I don’t have a stone tablet over here where I’ve carved in the answer to that But it depends on how much you know overdone You are, so to speak, and it also depends on whether you’ve inhaled it or taken it orally because if you’ve taken it orally, it can be quite a bit stronger and it can last for a really long time, so it’s not easy to come quote down, so to speak, but there is a point in there.

Think especially if you’ve inhaled it, um, where, uh, you’ve, you’re pushing your edge. The reason, okay, so as I understand it anyway, um, uh, uh, when you’ve had more than you can handle, remember I said a little while ago, the optimal dose is the dose that you both want to and can handle, right? So if you’ve had more than you can stay relaxed and comfortable, and open and not completely driven by constant thinking with, then that’s because, it’s pushed you to your edge of where you’re willing to let go, willing to surrender.

Okay? So, um, you basically have two choices. You can try to mitigate it, you know, and there are different things that people say you can do, you know. Some people say you can eat an orange, you can have a cold shower, you know, whatever.

 Eating a bunch of food can help bring you down, etc., etc., or you can stay with it. Like I’ve, I’ve led a lot of cannabis ceremonies. That’s one of the things that I do. Right. And occasionally that’s what happens to somebody. They had a little too much. And, but then I just say, okay, stay with it.

Like in a couple of cases, they had to lie down for 10 minutes. But I say, I say, when you go and lie down, don’t buy into the thoughts. You know, whatever comes up like, Oh, no, this is horrible or whatever, right? Just a thought comes up, you know, try to stay with the breath, try to keep relaxing and it will ease, you know, over a little bit of time.

So I’ve had a few people that very few, but a few people that went a little too far, um, more than they could handle. A couple of people just had to lie down for a few minutes, keep breathing. And 10 minutes later, they were back up and back in the circle, you know? So I, I, I think it’s. It’s very possible to work with that energy, even when it feels somewhat too much. So I think Corinne, you said something about, you know, kind of easing in. And that can be a good way to go, you know, like if you’re, if, if you’re new to cannabis, or if you haven’t explored the deeper realms in that way, partly because you just haven’t, or because again, your endocannabinoid system is completely satiated because you smoke two or three times every day, and then you’re never going to go to those places.

I don’t think, some people could correct me on that, but that’s my experience. I think it’s always smart to start, as they say, you know, when they say start, start low and go slow. I’ve had people in my circles that don’t use cannabis a lot, and they’ve had one large-ish toke of this kind of stuff, and it was too much for them, right?

So we had to work with them. They had to work with themselves. We had to work with them a little bit like that. So yeah, I’ll kind of leave that one there for now. But that was, I think, an excellent and important question, actually. Uh, you know, how much and what to do about it, if you feel like you have had too much.

 I’m guessing that a lot of people that have that experience, they’re not doing it in a disciplined way particularly. You know, in other words, they’re not sitting in a ceremonial circle or they’re not sitting alone at home meditating or whatever, right?

They’re doing it in other kinds of circumstances and that paranoia factor, for example, can be exacerbated around other people because, you know, you feel vulnerable. You know, you know, yeah, you can feel very vulnerable. I had one time where I, I had eaten something.

So it was quite strong and I was at a party. And, um, I, I was, this was when, when I was in my early twenties, wasn’t quite as wise and mature as I am now, but, I was at a party. And I, I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t say anything because I realized that, um, my, I had a public persona and the people that at that party only knew my public persona.

 And I couldn’t call it up. So I was sitting forlornly in a chair at the side of this gathering. And a friend came over and sat beside me, noticed I was looking, not too good and said, what’s going on? I said, well, I, I can’t, I can’t find myself or whatever. I don’t remember what I said to, to her exactly.

And she said, I like you better this way. In other words, you know, you’re not, you haven’t put on your role suit to meet the public. Right. Um, so that’s where that, vulnerability comes in, but if you’re in a circle, if you’re meditating or whatever, you can watch that.

Those kind of thoughts come up and not buy into them, ideally. That’s the aspiration. That’s the potential. 

Andrea Meharg: Thanks so much for sharing that. I was thinking about your cannabis and how you’re leading spirituality gatherings and about the kind of role and responsibility that you would take as a leader.

in that space. And it leads to my next question about what you think the role of cannabis in churches, for example, is. We have a few cannabis churches up here in Canada. It is gathering momentum kind of globally to infuse cannabis into spirituality in this way. Can you talk about what you see as the future of cannabis, like an organized, more organized religions and what the, what the discourse is on it out there.

Like, what are people saying about cannabis in church, et cetera? 

Stephen Gray: There’s one chapter in particular, um, God, I’ve forgotten his name now, Stephen Hager. He was the editor of, uh, High Times Magazine for much of its heyday.

 He talks in his short chapter about a kind of a church, informal sort of a church they have, and they have certain kinds of protocols and rules, and it’s very egalitarian. It’s really important that if it be non dogmatic, what one of my favorite people calls heterarchical rather than hierarchical, meaning everybody is in a sense equal that way, you know, um, Leadership and authority should come naturally rather than somebody appointing or being appointed, even for that matter, indigenous people often historically understood this quite well, that they would follow a leader if the person made sense to them, but they had no trouble abandoning that leader of the person if they felt like the person was getting off the rails or too egotistical or self important .

 So it’s got to be like that. I think it can’t be focused around a charismatic leader . I mean, that’s the, I think that’s kind of the message of cannabis is that it’s egalitarian. You know, um, it’s inclusive that way. It’s non exclusive and it’s the, it’s the people’s plant, as we like to say, or the people’s psychedelic even.

 So I don’t know exactly what they’re doing in churches. There’s one of the contributors to cannabis and spirituality who was part of a, there’s two of them actually, one in Hawaii and another one, uh, was part of a Rasta type church. in, southern Florida and Jamaica and so on. And they had different ways than the way I would do something like that.

If it were me, first of all, the actual churches these days are, they’re not doing that well in terms of attendance, are they? You know, they’re their congregation is aging. They’re not getting a lot of young blood in there. Uh, I’d like to see, I mean, it’s going to take a few more years of, dissolving stigma for it to get to this point.

But there’s so much potential for they have the beautiful, they got the great buildings, right? They got these beautiful buildings. Um, what I’d love to see is people gathered in a building like that. Um, we’ve had, we had, um, yeah. At our conference, Spirit Plant Medicine Conference in Vancouver, the last four years, we’ve had a cannabis ceremony on the Saturday evening, right in the middle of the conference, where we’ve been gifted pre rolls and 200 people, stayed for the Saturday evening.

 We set it up as a, as just like I would do if I had a circle of 10 people, right? And then we had these pre rolls. gave them to them, asked them to go outside in silence, outside of the university building we were in, smoke in silence, come back in silence, and then we spent an hour and a half or so either doing silent sitting meditation or guided meditation or some visualizations and some sound journeying with crystal balls and.

things like that. So that’s the kind of ceremony or not sermon, but ceremony I would like to see, uh, for, for cannabis. And you could do that in a church, you know, you could have, you could have a beautiful choir as well. You know, you could have, you do it a little bit like the Santo Dime people do with ayahuasca, where they have, Um, they have hymns that they sing, um, and then they have sections of 45 minutes to an hour of silence.

They call it concentration, or you’re just meditating, right? So it could be a mix of silent meditation, other kinds of sounds, choir, either a choir at the front or everybody singing like they do in a lot of churches or whatever. Um, I think there’s immense potential. The two of the authors in the book refer to cannabis as the sacrament of peace, the universal sacrament of peace.

It’s because it’s so sort of user friendly that way. 

Corinne Tobias: I love that. I’m just like thinking, I’m like, Oh yeah, like. Quakers. That’d be a great, that’d be a great, you can infiltrate that. You could do Presbyterian. There’s a beautiful Presbyterian church that I would love to have that happen.

And no, I was just thinking about how cool that would be. I mean, like you said, there is an interesting thing that has happened, at least with cannabis where governments have gone, Oh, well, this can make us money. I mean, when you’re talking about religion and numbers declining and people not wanting to be interfacing with organized religion, like maybe they’ll start seeing the same thing, as you said, when the stigma moves on, but I 

Stephen Gray: do kind of want to, let me just say, Oh, can I just add one more thing to that theme?

Yeah. Before you go on. Yeah, thanks. Um, so the picture that’s coming to my mind when you say, when we talk about this is, um, we’re at a turning point on the planet for a lot of reasons. , I think there’s immense potential for the religion of the future, if you want to use that word to be experiential.

You know, not necessarily listening to like sermons or whatever, but actually going deep in our own experience. I think that’s been what’s missing to a large degree from much institutional religion, is the teachings may be there, although that’s another issue. They may be questionable too, but there’s still great teachings that are coming from different religions.

It’s the experiential component and, um, meditation, of course, like just simple follow the breath can be very valuable that way. And cannabis can add to that because of this nonspecific amplifying capability. So I think there’s immense potential there. I 

Corinne Tobias: love that. There are two questions actually in the chat that dovetail both of these.

And the first one is from Shannon. She said I’m a certified cannabis meditation facilitator and a cannabis educator, she said, Stephen, I’m curious, um, what you recommend as best practices for engaging in cannabis ceremonies, both as participants and facilitators.

Hmm. 

Stephen Gray: When I do them, I have to, and, you know, again, it’s not, there’s no stone tablet sitting off to my right here, you know?

Um, in fact, the chapter that I wrote in the book, Cannabis and Spirituality, on that, I think it’s called something like, uh, open source, flexible template for ceremonies. So, it’s just a suggestion. And I have two different kinds. I have the inhale only ones.

And those are usually an evening. And in those ones, uh, we meet around seven or whatever. Sit in a circle on meditation cushions. I generally ask people to. If they, a lot of people are not used to sitting in a meditation posture, they want to lean back or they want to slouch. But I’m a big supporter or believer in the idea of sitting straight so that your spine is aligned, your acupuncture points, your meridians, et cetera, aligned, your.

Kundalini energy is all aligned. There’s something, both physically, mentally, and spiritually uplifting about sitting straight. And you also kind of find that sweet spot, you know, like if you’re not leaning against something, if you’re just sitting on a cushion, or if you’re not capable of doing that physically sitting on a meditation bench.

Or if you’re not capable of doing that, sitting in a chair, but ideally not necessarily leaning against the back. So I try to encourage people to sit straight for that reason. It also has a kind of a, I don’t know, an almost symbolic quality of uplift, upliftedness, you know, to be sitting up straight, as my old Buddhist teacher used to say, good head and shoulders, you know?

 I start it formally like a ceremony, after a little bit of explanation. I have a big Tibetan bowl gong thing and strike it three times or whatever, and then ask people to just calmly enter in, sit for a minute or two. And then I have already suggested when we’re inviting people, I say, if at all possible, Steven requests that you take a break or a cannabis fast, I like to call it sometimes, at least two or three days and preferably longer, because ofthe, down regulation of the endocannabinoid system.

It gets full, so to speak. It’s more complicated than that scientifically, but basically, you need a lot more and it’s and I think it lacks the kind of, um, ethereal or, uh. You know, um, airy kind of open, spacious, almost holy kind of quality if you’re smoking all the time, you know, and you come into one of these ceremonies and especially if you’ve smoked that day or if you’ve been smoking several times a day all week or whatever.

So I really strongly encourage people to take a break from it for a while, several days if possible before they come. So their endocannabinoid systems are. Reset their refreshed as much as possible, right? So then I say, start slow because 10 minutes from now, I’m gonna get your attention again and suggest that if you didn’t get as deep as you wanted to have another to now, and you’ll go deeper.

But you might wanna start with one good sized Hoover. , because we’re usually working with cannabis that’s 20 to 25% THC, so I suggest like one good, good Hoover on, on it. Um, I know it’s an old type of vacuum cleaner, you know, the Hoover vacuum.

Yeah. aNd then, and sit in silence with that. And then I’ll do a little guided meditation with them or something, you know, like a body scan. I’m really, I really like body scans. Most of you know about. body scans, right? Um, so that you’re checking in with your body because 

cannabis, I think of as a, as an energy medicine that way.

It works on the mind, body, spirit level simultaneously, but it has to include the somatic, the body level, right? Um, so you have to tune in, like, what are you doing? Oh, you’re holding your shoulder up a little bit of tension in your shoulder. Ah, you can let it go, right? So the letting go of the body and the letting go of the mind or the discursive thinking mind can happen.

Together simultaneously, right? Um, so then I say, okay, just sit with it. You know, try to let your thoughts go. Don’t judge. They come up. So what? Doesn’t matter how many you have. Just recognize them. Let them go again. Come back to a gentle attention to your breath. Not obsessing, not trying to make yoga special breaths, anything like that.

Just come back to your breathing. Sit on your cushion. And then see where you’re at in five to ten minutes and I’ll Hit a little ding and say, okay, now’s a good time to have another talk or two if you feel like you didn’t go deep enough, right? And then you can still do that half, I’ll often interrupt them, so to speak, another half hour, 45 minutes later and say, well, let, maybe we’ll have one more now or two more, you know, if you feel like you could go a little deeper.

At a certain point, it won’t go deeper. It’ll just maybe maintain it a little longer because of that. endocannabinoid filled up thing, right? Um, and then it’s just a mix of, um, I, if I had my druthers in a way, if I really knew the people, all of them, and they were experienced meditators, we wouldn’t do much.

We’d mostly just sit, which is often what I do at home. 

 I’m always trying to be careful , because of that notion that I mentioned earlier, that the busy mind is also the way that we obscure or distract ourselves from the empty state, the opening state, the open state, right? So it’s a, it’s something to pay attention to, you know. Are you tricking yourself?

Oh, this is such an exciting thought or thing. I want to follow this, right? You know, you could be doing what the ego has been doing all its life in that sense. So I try to stay with it. And, um, for the most part and, um, and in the, in the circles. I have different instruments. I have, uh, crystal bowls.

I have little lovely French chimes. I’ve got a, frame drum that for the rapid shamanic drumming, pattern that you can like 200 beats a minute or whatever. You can get people into other brain waves. I’ll do that. Occasionally, once in a while, I’ll play some simple stuff on my guitar, but not usually, you know, but then I’ll mix that up.

Every time my view is just keep coming back to the well. So if I do something for five minutes, like playing the crystal balls, I’ll always leave three or four or five minutes of just silent sitting in between times. And then another thing. So just coming back to that and then, you know, do that for an hour and a quarter, hour and a half.

And then we have a sharing session, usually have some food after that. If I do an all day one, it’s. The same, except that, , I’ll bring an edible, a mild edible in, so that people are up in the state for longer. And frankly, um, I’ve also found a small amount of psilocybin mushroom goes really nicely with that.

Small, I’m talking like, um, perhaps, um, A quarter of a dried gram in a chocolate or something like that, you know, just a little above microdose level. What that tends to do is, it doesn’t kind of come in and push the cannabis vibe, so to speak, aside. It just, uh, deepens it a little bit more. And maybe makes it a little sharper, a little clearer or something like that.

Um, but that can work really well. And when I do those all day ones, I’ll, um, I won’t starve them all day. Although if, when we’re having an edible, um, we’ll do that at the beginning. And I’ll ask them not to eat. For like two hours or so before that, you know, if you’re taking ayahuasca or psilocybin or any of these, you usually want to fast for a minimum three, four, even six or more hours, right?

Um, when you’re taking anything edible, you don’t want to have a lot of in your stomach because it’s just going to either, it’s going to both diminish the effect and take a lot longer to kick in. Right. So a couple of hours of fasting before and then a light edible and then smoking at the same time or a little later, whatever, just mixing it up.

Some of it’s in my book. Um, and then over the course of the day, we’ll do lots of different things. Maybe do some yoga too. Sometimes I have a yoga specialist with me in those. Um, uh, and then later on, you know, three hours in, I might bring in some cacao or something that’s a little bit more of like an energizer or maybe even a light thing to eat, like some fresh strawberries, but just a little bit, like maybe two strawberries, because, you know, if you eat much, it’s going to, you know, take that effect away.

You know, it’s going to bring it back down into the more physical that way. And then just go on like that till four or five in the afternoon and then have a potluck and sharing. You know, so that’s the simple version of all that. 

Corinne Tobias: tHat was great.

And also, if you don’t have the book already, chapter six. lines it out. Like you said, I think it’s an open source, flexible. Um, there’s a lot of, you could try this or try that, but there are a lot of ideas about building these kinds of, um, ceremonies with people and they are flexible it’s an exploration, but I do love that you laid that all out in this, in this book. So if you don’t have it already, and you’re interested in doing this, I think someone in the chat said that based on this book and a couple of different podcasts, they put together their own ceremony.

 It’s a really great resource for that. Nice. All right, Andrea do you have any? 

Andrea Meharg: We only have a couple minutes left, but two people at least are very curious if you could comment on kundalini activation and cannabis use. 

Stephen Gray: Well, I, I don’t know that I’m an expert, you know, I’m qualified to answer that question properly, but Yeah, because it opens things up, potentially, I think that’s very possible, um, that you could have a, a deeper, I mean, people can have Kundalini experiences, Kundalini openings without any, um, substance, right?

So it stands to reason. That if you take a substance like cannabis that can potentially open the channels, um, the physical channels, as well as the mental and spiritual channels, then there’s absolutely no kind of logical reason why you couldn’t have a powerful Kundalini experience, but I’m not by any stretch a master of working with Kundalini energy.

So that’s all I’ll say about that one. All right. That’s 

Andrea Meharg: okay. Like I said, we’re almost at the end here. So Corinne, should we promo what’s coming? Well, there is no book 

Corinne Tobias: club coming. There’s another book. I have questions for Stephen, though, because he just talked about all these amazing things. And we found out before we got on the call that he and I are virtually neighbors.

So I want to know how to get in a room of 200 people doing these ceremonies. What, what are, what are the things that people can join you in, in person and how can people find you online? 

Stephen Gray: Oh yeah, sure. I’m pretty easy to find. Um, so, uh, S T E P H E N. G R A Y, and I’m on Facebook as Stephen Gray. Um, I think it’s actually, my Facebook group is called Stephen Gray Vision.

So, and I don’t know why, but I think I mushed the Stephen Gray together, all one word, and then vision as a separate word. So, I’m on Facebook that way. My website is also StephenGrayVision. com, all. together, of course, for a website. Um, and I’m on LinkedIn and Instagram. And once in a while, I put something on tick tock.

Um, so I’m on. Oh, yeah, I do all that stuff, basically. Um, also, you know, the The 200 people in a room, uh, sitting in chairs at our conference. That’s not my favorite way to do it, but because, you know, I can’t control it in the same way, right? Like I can’t do that. Have one talk and come back in 10 minutes because it takes, you know, there’s logistics to get 200 people out of a room and back in again that are a little too unwieldy for that.

So it’s not my favorite way, but it actually have heard. Just stunning. I’m not exaggerating reports of people saying, my 

God, I’ve never known cannabis could do that.

and that’s a common theme, actually, even in the circles is like, if you’ve never worked with cannabis like that, if you’ve never sort of, as Terrence McKenna might’ve said, sit down, shut up and pay attention with this plan.

Um, you don’t even know how powerful and how strong and how beautiful it can be that way. Um, I think that’s true. You know, people are stunned if they have oftentimes in a good way, of course, uh, when they have that experience. So, um, that, that con, that’s a conference, by the way, and it’s a wonderful conference.

It really is. We get a lot of the leaders in the field. We get everybody in the same room so that we actually go through a journey together all weekend here in Vancouver, British Columbia. It’s called the Spirit. Plant medicine conference, spiritplantmedicine. com. And happy to hear from anybody that’s watching this, listening to this today or later, um, if you have a question or, you know, just want to engage in dialogue.

Okay.

Andrea Meharg: Thank you. Yes. People will definitely be reaching out. Corinne’s Corinne’s looking up the conference right now. She’s, she’s booking her train ticket across.

Stephen Gray: Can I just say that I have a much more recent book as well called how psychedelics can help save the world. It’s a similar idea. I gathered together 24 brilliant thought leaders, uh, that, understand, how to wisely effectively work with, with psychedelics and their role in a plant for a planet that’s in deep doo doo, frankly.

Andrea Meharg: Well, we definitely need that. Thank you for that. 

Um, I’m going to go check it out. 

Corinne Tobias: I’m really excited to hear that because I do, I think it’s an interesting thing.

There’s a part of my brain that wanted this. book to be cohesive and that wants books to be like one person’s perspective, learning all the things and then digesting it from my brain. But there is something that’s really incredible about compiling all of these different ideas and different perspectives on the planet that makes it possible for you to navigate it for yourself.

Like you can’t just follow down somebody else’s path and I think that’s really cool doing that with cannabis and also. Um, doing that with psychedelics, because there are so many books that are coming out now that are very much like one person’s perspective and how they feel that psychedelics, um, should be used or how they should be reintroduced into the population.

Um, so it’s, I think it’s really a great idea to include many voices when you’re covering topics that, have a lot of different perspectives. These are, these are, these are dynamic plant medicines. I really appreciate that, that way of approaching it, even though part of me is like, no, just tell me, give it to me straight, Stephen, just give me the pathway there and tell me what to do.

Andrea Meharg: If only one of our experts had the pathway, right, that’d be great. 

Corinne Tobias: That habeen usnt us all book club season, we’re like, why don’t you, can’t you just tell us the answers? 

Stephen Gray: Yeah. Well, that’s the thing, the answer is within you, right? 

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. . 

Andrea Meharg: I hate small talk 

Corinne Tobias: so much. Oh my gosh. Me too. I didn’t know that about you. 

Stephen Gray: Oh good. Barf.

I grew up in Ontario, um, but I had the wisdom to leave there in my early 20s.

Corinne Tobias: Hey And, whererea you at? 

Andrea Meharg: Ontario. 

Corinne Tobias: No wisdom. 

Andrea Meharg: we’ll probably talk about it in there, but are you on? Nope. No, don’t tell us because I want to be surprised.

Corinne Tobias: It’s an Andrea classic. Stop herself in the middle of a question. 

Stephen Gray: God tilted the continent to the West and all the nuts rolled to the West coast. So that was me. That was one of those. 

Corinne Tobias: My nut. My nut also rolled this way until it ran into the ocean. 

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Corinne Tobias

My name is Corinne Tobias and I’m the creator of this site that is all about cannabis and health (and having a good time combining those things!). Since 2013, I’ve helped millions of people on their cannabis journey and have been featured in publications like High Times, Merry Jane, Jezelbel, Westword, and Vice.

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