Can Cannabis Help Develop Emotional Intelligence?
Whether you’re a medicinal cannabis consumer or casual cannabis enthusiast, you might have heard of the Entourage Effect. But did you know emotional intelligence and mindfulness can amplify the benefits of that effect?
Combining cannabis with meditation might feel very new-age, but this synergy has been practiced for millennia. Many historical texts in India and China indicate the use of hemp as medicine and sacred plant for spiritual celebrations. It’s only in the last few decades that cannabis was criminalized from the War On Drugs that had limited our society’s understanding of the plant.
There is still much to learn about cannabis, emotional intelligence, and mindfulness meditation. But as research is being done and testimonies are being shared, this might be the combined practice the world needs.
The Entourage Effect In Cannabis
The Entourage Effect is the experience you get when you smoke, ingest, or vaporize cannabis, consisting of most, if not all, its compounds, aka cannabinoids and terpenes. Many of us are familiar with the THC and CBD cannabinoids. But cannabis has many other cannabinoids like CBN and CBG. You will have a different experience when consuming THC or CBD separately.
Reflect on your own experience with cannabis. What was the material makeup of your cannabis? And how was your experience with it? What patterns can you find in correlation to the compounds present in the plant?
You might notice higher THC levels causing more anxiety or depression. Or maybe the concentrate in dabs or vape pens wipes you out or makes it harder to focus compared to consuming actual flower. There are so many variables to how you consume cannabis, from the ratio of compounds, to the dosage levels, to the form factor, to the consumption method.
The terpenes also have a large impact on your experience. These compounds are what give the plant its aromatic features and depending on the terpene will either help you stay physically active, be more sociable, or help you relax into calmness or sleep.
Studies have shown more benefits and appreciation from those consuming the whole plant rather than synthetic or isolated cannabinoids. This makes it best practice to consume cannabis with a nonzero percentage of multiple compounds.
Similar to cooking recipes with more ingredients and seasoning, you get more nutrition, flavors, and layers of texture than if you were to cook just one or two things. Consuming cannabis is no different.
Incorporating the other compounds into your cannabis use allows you to not only experience physical benefits in your body (i.e. pain relief, better sleep, etc.), but mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits as well (i.e. better focus, presence, calm, less irritable, connected to others). This is the power of the Entourage Effect.
The Entourage Effect With Emotional Intelligence And Mindfulness
To further improve our experience with cannabis, we can incorporate education on emotional intelligence and a mindfulness meditation practice.
Emotional intelligence, in short, is the ability to act in spite of fear. It’s the ability to identify, regulate, own up to, and assert our vulnerabilities as our truth. It’s the skill many humans were not explicitly taught. Instead, we’re taught to “keep our head up,” “look at the bright side,” “man up, don’t be so sensitive.”
We numb our pain with the “pursuit of happiness,” with hyper-productivity, pharmaceuticals, TV/movies, social media, alcohol, sex, or worse, blaming others for causing us hurt. We were taught that negative emotions are “bad” and should be avoided at all costs. Otherwise, we’re told we’re not a capable, functional human being.
As you can imagine, that’s the furthest from the truth. Humans are emotional creatures. We feel things, good AND bad. Neither makes you better or worse than anyone else. Emotional intelligence is what helps us understand that.
Popularized by Daniel Goleman in his 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, the term became the bridge both individuals and corporations needed to bring in more Eastern philosophies and understanding of humanity, like mindfulness, meditation, and yogic practices to the Western world.
Emotional intelligence incorporates many mindfulness teachings. And meditation is one of the best ways to improve emotional intelligence. Research shows expert meditators to have “long-term changes in the brain and their positive effects on empathy, meta cognitive skills and health.” When you are mindful of your emotions, you become less reactive to your environment or the people around you and can better respond to those triggers in a more productive way.
Emotional intelligence is the Entourage Effect to our happiness and fulfillment in life. It’s the foundation to being our best self, rather than depending on one aspect of our life to enable that. For example, making your career your sole reason for meaning, or the relationship you’re in to make you happy, or that one specific hobby to fulfill you.
How This Combination Enables Living Your Best Life
It’s no wonder cannabis and emotional intelligence feels like a natural combination. Imagine how much better you would show up for your career, your loved ones, your creative hobbies from a more stable emotional state. You would be more productive, make more money, be more present with your coworkers, family, friends, create more innovative ideas for the projects you care about.
It’s important to note that cannabis is not the magical cure-all. Don’t expect it to work the first time, or at all for that matter. It’s a tool, just like coffee, prescription drugs, or any other enhancing substances. And it’s not for everyone.
Having that said when used in tandem with mindfulness meditation and emotional intelligence education, the positive benefits of cannabis becomes exponential.
It’s ironic to call myself a cannabis wellness and emotional fitness coach because I grew up ignorant of the benefits of both. But using cannabis to intentionally improve my emotional wellbeing, I’ve seen myself transform from a shy, insecure, reserved kid to someone who’s full of gratitude for the freedom and confidence I now have in my life, career, and relationships. I write about how cannabis and mindfulness meditation has been crucial for both my development as a leader and educator professionally, as well as personally redefining my masculinity, cultural identity, creativity, and success.
Written by: Victor Ung
Edited by: Veronica Castillo
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