I was enjoying an epic stoned walk when a friend pulled up in his car and said hello. Feeling ebullient, I opened his passenger side door and hopped in. He drove to his house a few blocks away and invited me in for conversation.
I had not spoken with him for several months (life being what it is; all of us so busy). As it turned out he’d been having a rough time with his struggling business, challenging relationships, and troubled kid. I pretty much just listened to him for an hour or so, at his kitchen table.
It Felt Good
As he spoke I was aware of pleasurable sensations in my mind and body, as though he were a professional storyteller and I was his front-row audience of one. I was captivated. There was no question of “patience.” Despite the fact that he was describing unhappy, even desperate circumstances, I was enjoying our connection, appreciating his intelligence. And my friend got some relief (so he said), unburdening himself to a willing listener.
I knew it was the cannabis that had rendered me so open, so refreshingly free of judgment. In an unaltered frame of mind, I would likely have been having thoughts such as “Wow, I’m being really nice.” Or “Doesn’t he want to ask me how I’m doing?” (which, to be fair, he did at some point).
I realize that such thoughts are delusional, habitual, conditioned. The reality is, as A Course in Miracles states, “To give and to receive are one in truth.” Such is the case with wholehearted listening. Spaciously stoned, I was able to enjoy the giving/receiving without having to negotiate my usual blockages.
Now of course, one-sided listening-talking relationships are generally not desirable (unless one party is a therapist). But this was not a chronic pattern between my friend and me.
I wonder: Does cannabis help train my mind to be more supple, peaceful, and receptive? Or does it simply afford me an experience of being that way?
Such openness does not come naturally to me when I’m unstoned. I’m generally not a patient person. My ex-wife would occasionally ask me to “exercise my patience muscle.”
I suppose there was an element of patience involved with listening to my friend talk a long time about his difficulties. But I did not feel like I was “exercising a patience muscle.” It was effortless.
So do such cannabis-informed interludes help me to be a better listener when I’m not high? Or do they make it harder, because cannabis lets me avoid having to “practice” the “exercise” of some emotional muscle?
Does dependence on cannabis to access a spacious state actually weaken the internal mechanism necessary to access that state without the plant’s help?
Or might the truth lie in the middle? If I can recall such easeful states of mind when I’m not high, perhaps just that keeps them in reach? At the very least, it reminds me that my frequently ungenerous reactions are unnecessary and misguided.
Do other people also feel it’s necessary to try and strike a balance between going to the well (cannabis) for more enlightened perspectives and working with your “stuff” unassisted?