The Richness in Presence: Cannabis as a Teacher Plant

Medicine Path The Richness In Presence


Aside from my previous post on Floatation Tanks, which mentioned a variety of consciousness altering modalities, I’ve been focusing on some of the more classic psychedelics that I engage with, while neglecting one particular plant that has gifted me in so many ways.

I see cannabis as both a powerful teacher plant, and a trusted tool. I’ve been working with this medicine in the float tank, during meditation, before breathwork, to facilitate deep contemplation and writing, and to reconnect deeper to nature and my present moment experience.

Lately, my experiences with this plant have been extremely intense. I use the Haze vaporizer, and even with a relatively small amount, I’ve been journeying relatively deep. In fact, the past few times I’ve been high were more like some sort of psychedelic trip, with dstortions in time and depth perception, electric vibrations throughout my body, pronounced vivid imaginations in my minds eye, and my lens of awareness being turned completely inwards like the external world had faded away.

Perhaps someone reading this has the knowledge to comment here, but I speculate that working with various plant medicines and other psychedelics ‘open up the channels’, essentially leaving me more sensitive and receptive to enter and access various altered states of consciousness. The following paragraph from Dustin Sulak at NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) is pretty interesting:

“Research has shown that small doses of cannabinoids from cannabis can signal the body to make more endocannabinoids and build more cannabinoid receptors. This is why many first-time cannabis users don't feel an effect, but by their second or third time using the herb they have built more cannabinoid receptors and are ready to respond. More receptors increase a person's sensitivity to cannabinoids; smaller doses have larger effects, and the individual has an enhanced baseline of endocannabinoid activity.” 1

If you weren’t already aware, we have our own internal system called the Endocannabinoid System.

Scientists speculate that this system evolved in primitive animals over 600 million years ago 2 , and believe the overall function of this system is to regulate homeostasis; essentially maintaining stable internal conditions that are necessary for healing and survival. 3

When we introduce cannabis into our system, whether that's through smoking, vaporizing, or oral ingestion, these external cannabinoid compounds already have an inbuilt internal system, that produces it's own internal cannabinoid compounds, to interact with. Pretty amazing.

So perhaps there is some sort of correlation and cross-over between various consciousness altering substances, and becoming more sensitive to them, although I suspect the mechanisms are quite complex.


A simple walk in nature, something that can easily be taken for granted, can become incredibly magical and significant under the effects of a teacher plant like cannabis. In my experience, it really teaches me to slow down, reconnect with the abundance of life in nature, and access deep states of presence.

It was something I noticed on my most recent walk, both amongst other people and within myself: almost always on a mission to do something, or get somewhere. Focusing on the goal, instead of the journey. There’s always something on the horizon of thought. Chores to do, places to be, people to see, goals to achieve. It’s not often enough that I slow down and simply... be.

If you’ve read any books on spirituality, awakening or eastern philosophy, becoming fully aware and present to each and every moment is one of the core teachings of how to eliminate the suffering and stress of life. Surrendering to what is, no matter the situation. The art of non-attachment, non-resistance, non-judgement; the keys to liberation.

I used to remind myself of this quote to cultivate my higher virtues in the beginning of my self development journey: “Don’t focus so much on what it is that I’m doing, rather, focus moreso on who it is that I’m being.”

Now I’m more inclined to tell myself: “DO focus on what I’m doing, and even moreso, HOW I’m being.”

How do I want to be? I want to experience the richness of what it means to be human while being as peaceful, non-reactive and present as possible, to attain a state of freedom from suffering and stress! Sounds like a decent state of being to embody, right?! Easier said than done though.

Medicine Path The Richness of Presence Sharon Salzberg Quote


So there I was, walking at snail's pace on a nature trail, which curves around the cliffs and coastline of my hometown. Slowing down as much as possible to simply observe my surroundings.

I’ve had similar experiences working with the cactus medicine, Huachuma. It’s amazing to commune with the plants and trees, watching the birds and butterflies flitter amongst the branches and leaves, tiny little mammalian rodents scuttering along the edges of the path, feeling the rays of the sun warm various parts of the body. Caressing and feeling the tactile sensation of various types of foliage and being present to just observe and experience, made me feel like a participant in nature, not just someone passing through. There were so many beautiful opportunities to take a photo, yet I couldn’t bring myself to focus on the process of getting out my camera and removing myself from experiencing the depth of the moment.

After some time, I decided to explore various experiences that I could have during something as simple as walking in nature. It seems so strange to try and explain this in writing. I guess because it comes across as so… Simple. Perhaps to some, even quite boring.

I walked along the path incredibly slow. I stopped walking and stood still, being attentive to my breath and gravity pulling me down. I smiled gently as other walkers passed me by. I picked up my pace and felt the musculature of my body start to work harder, my heart beating faster, my breath becoming deeper. I sat still on a bench overlooking the ocean and closed my eyes, letting the sun warm my face. I eventually turned my attention from the bountiful and beautiful sounds of nature, to engage in the sound of listening to peaceful music.

There was an interesting insight of why I find joy in being alone and spending time by myself.

First off, I noticed a very distinct shifting of consciousness happen. It was as if I had clicked down a gear of intensity, and could notice the vibrancy of nature with great clarity. Again, something I have experienced working with Huachuma. In this time, someone was walking down the trail, and I observed my immediate reaction of trying to collect myself; wanting to present myself and act in a certain way to give some kind of projection of how I thought I should be viewed.

Being in the presence of another will always have some effect on how one behaves or chooses to present themselves. When I'm by myself, I feel a greater sense of freedom to turn my lens inwards, to find stillness, to be quiet, to embody deep peace inside myself without the presence of someone else having any effect whatsoever on the authentic state of being I feel like embodying.

Of course, I enjoy social interaction, and acknowledge the importance of relationships and connection, however finding time to be with and reconnect with myself whilst in nature is deeply nourishing, rewarding, and an aspect of life that I need to remind myself to gift myself more often. Through the cultivation of presence and reconnection with my own authenticity in times of being alone, not just in meditation, but in nature, it allows me to carry this essence more strongly in my daily interactions with others. 


There are just so many different types of experience we can explore, so much richness to the human experience; if we allow ourselves to slow down, become still, to be attentive to what is happening in the now. Some of my teacher plants, such as Cannabis and Huachuma, can help guide me to experience these rich states of being, gifting the experiential knowing to carry this wisdom into regular daily life.

It's why I felt compelled to share this short account of my day. As a reminder.  Not just to others, but to myself. To slow down. Be still. Pay attention to breath. Impart yourself the gift of spending time alone, reconnecting not just with nature, but with yourself.

Eckhart Tolle speaks of how our lives carry an inner purpose, and an outer purpose:

"Our inner purpose concerns Being and is primary. Outer purpose concerns Doing and is secondary...

While your inner purpose is to negate time, your outer purpose neccesarily involves future and so could not exist without time. But it is always secondary. Whenever you become anxious or stressed, outer purpose has taken over, and you lost sight of your inner purpose...

Why did anxiety, stress, or negativity arise? Because you turned away from the present moment. And why did you do that? You thought something else was more important. You forgot your main purpose. One small error, one misperception, creates a world of suffering...

What the future holds for you depends on your state of consciousness now." 4

A simple, yet profound teaching. One that I try to live by, and remind myself of more often.

The Richness of Presence Ram Dass Quote

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Chris Kelly9 Comments