This blog post was written for The Cannabis Cleanse Diaries by Jane West and Kristen Williams 08/2016
UPDATED SEPT. 4, 2017
You know how sometimes you dream about showing up in class naked but you would never actually accidentally forget to get dressed in the morning and go out in public?
You can thank your well-functioning, awakened Consciousness for that.
Consciousness, better known as “mindfulness”, is the awareness of one’s self and surroundings. It is the awareness of the inner functionings of our own minds as well. In my opinion, it culminates in the ability to operate in said surroundings responsibly. It can be affected or altered by infinite inner and outer forces.
In my high school years- say between 2005-2007 – I found a welcome relief from my tendency to overthink everything when my high-school sweetheart and I started attending the liquor-laden parties of upperclassmen. I had an Irish stomach and a forever watchful companion to keep me safe. I liked being aware, being in control, having my wits about me. I mean, I was a lifetime honor roll student…
Honestly, though, I also found a form of solace in the alcoholic social gatherings that became the norm. It was as if in these spaces nothing too much was expected of any of us. We could escape from what has apparently become called “adulting”, aka Growing Up, and freely interact to whatever extent of debauchery, blaming it on our chosen drinks the night before. Night after night. Practically 7 days a week.
‘Consciousness’ in any sense was never necessarily on the guest list.
Now, debauch your little hearts out but let’s be honest with ourselves. It became more than that. Principles were broken, trust betrayed, identities mistakenly merged with monsters inside and out, and at times for many of us, consciousness compromised to the point of complete obliteration and oblivion. We hardly knew who we were many nights, let alone what (or who?) we were doing. What was our intention to begin with?
Now even all of that is fine and good in the name of learning compassion and forgiveness to the core, but is the price we pay really necessary?
Often the full sacrifice of our consciousness?
Halloween of 2014 was the last night that I participated in the alcohol-driven lifestyle. By this time I was a full-blown cannabis consumer for rheumatoid arthritis, depression, and anxiety. It was a completely enjoyable night, but had ended with me blacking out and flipping out. My intention to be extra fun with an extra shot had backfired.
Consciousness? It was gone again, but for the last time.
I vowed that night to never drink liquor again. My intention stopped being to become extra fun via alcohol and changed into developing my Consciousness, even if it was difficult. I didn’t have a ton of faith that I could stick to such a dramatic declaration. It’s been nearly two years however, and I have done exactly that without trouble.
Surprisingly, I can thank cannabis in many ways: As a first-line defense against my depression and anxiety, physical relief for my arthritis, and social alternative to alcohol.
When I smoke, it slows the momentum down. Whatever negative emotion or societal expectation is about to sweep me away is instead swept away itself as cannabis calms my internal systems. I’m able to step back and assess my life. I can then set intentions that are true to who I am, and that I can and will follow through with.
After nearly two years of stoned sobriety- is that a thing?- I’ve noticed something remarkable:
I am fully accountable for myself through and through and I love it.
My Consciousness and my control were being driven by alcohol, and those social functions that glamorized and normalized it, to an uncomfortable extent. I didn’t know how to be comfortable with myself in these situations without it*. I was blindingly aware of the shallow expectations of those around me, but now I focus on the expectations I have of myself.
(*I warn some who are deep in the Cannabis Movement against the same habit forming with time.)
Over time, I have come to be able to be in the world and interact with the world with ease- with or without cannabis. It required consciously undertaking a mission of consciousness. Little by little, experience by experience, intention my intention, I’ve been able to guide my consciousness safely back into my own hands.
I’m a woman in control in all the right ways now. I choose when and how to lose control, and society has no say in it. I’m not even sure if society would approve. That’s how I know I’m doing something right.
My Consciousness has changed many hands over the course of my lifetime so far. It began by being formed as a child in the woods, then was derailed by the media, further muddied by alcohol, taken for a shitty ride by steroids (that’s another story), and was returned with the patient and unexpected help of cannabis and self-care.
As I find myself healing in many ways, I find myself challenging my consciousness in deeper ways. My future holds plans to focus on mindfulness techniques, meditation, and yoga. Something about the thought of handing my mind over to these practices makes me feel naked in the most exhilarating ways. For isn’t that what happy sobriety is, a naked Consciousness fully comfortable in its Glory?