If I told you that your body is worthy of love, care, and compassion exactly the way it is right this second, would you believe me? If you’re suddenly squirming uncomfortably or rolling your eyes, the odds are you probably aren’t completely comfortable with your body. You’re not alone. A 2012 UK study conducted by the All Party Parliamentary Group found that “roughly two-thirds of adults suffer from negative body image.” Yes, all adults. This is not just a “women’s issue.” People of all genders struggle with body image.
I’ve previously talked about using cannabis to help reframe limiting beliefs. After exploring more deeply, I’ve found cannabis can help cultivate body love as well. Since poor body image can negatively impact mental and physical health, you’re doing yourself a huge favor by taking active steps to improve your relationship with your body. Cannabis is the perfect conduit for such a transformation because it can help muffle some of the negative self-talk in your brain which, at least for me, often feels like it’s communicating exclusively in SHOUTY CAPS.
For me, cannabis helps me feel more present in my body and more open to pleasurable sensations. In 2010, I spent 100 hours getting certified as a hypnotist and I learned how useful hypnotic trance can be for unlearning negative beliefs and redirecting your attention and intentions. I find cannabis can produce similar effects to being in a trance (relaxation, bringing the unconscious mind into the forefront as the conscious mind recedes slightly, being more open to positive change, etc.)
If you’re interested in utilizing cannabis to re-shape your self-esteem, make sure to avoid a strain or product that might increase anxiety or paranoia (which would be antithetical to your goals). I suggest looking for a 1:1 CBD to THC ratio, and depending on how much time you can commit to the process, choose a shorter-acting method like smoking or vaping. The idea here is not to get so stoned that you “forget” the things you dislike about your body. This is about mindfully choosing cannabinoids and terpene profiles that will augment the positive changes that you’re setting in motion.
Beta-caryophyllene, a peppery terpene found in many plants from cannabis to cinnamon, has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression. Ask your budtender about strains like OG Kush and Skywalker OG, which tend to be high in caryophyllene, and ask about the lab results (does your dispensary have lab testing results on hand?) to verify the terpene profiles. Part of loving your body means being aware of what goes into it, so be a savvy consumer!
Kayla Arielle, cannabis guru and social media specialist, shared this powerful experience:
“In the movie ‘What The Bleep,’ there’s a scene in which a habitually self-loathing woman realizes the effect that she is having on both her body and reality with her negative thought patterns. She ends up sitting in front of a mirror with a marker and writing letters of love all over her body, in effect deprogramming her hateful thinking and replacing it–in a very tangible way–with positive, loving thoughts. I was going through a really hard time with my marriage then and my condition [juvenile rheumatoid arthritis] as well. I was flared up 24/7 and in so much pain.
“After I saw that scene, I felt extremely moved to do the same thing. I locked myself in my bathroom and alternated between the tub and mirror, marking all over my body, laughing and crying in the process. I definitely used cannabis as a tool and companion during the process…I had bowls and a blunt. It helped my mind to elevate to my intended frequency of soul vibration, as they say, unlocking obstacles and guiding the way back to the light after many years of moving towards despairing darkness. I had started to feel so trapped in this crippling vessel. The hour or so alone in my bathroom brought about so much healing and truly was a milestone of great change in my life.”
The exercise she’s describing is deeply transformative, and I would recommend it if you feel inspired and ready for a big change. However, you don’t have to jump right to writing on yourself in marker. It’s all about making small, sustainable changes.
Here’s a bit of homework for you: carve out time for yourself where you’ll be alone and uninterrupted. An hour would be best, but you can do this in as little as 10-15 minutes. Enjoy the cannabis product of your choice–just enough that you feel it in your body, but not so much that it feels distracting. The goal is focused enhancement.
Stand in front of a mirror and look at yourself. Look into your eyes and take a few deep breaths into your belly. Notice the things about some part of your body that you like. For instance, looking at your face, perhaps you like the way your eyes light up when you smile, or a freckle on your cheek, or the way your lips purse when you’re concentrating. Maybe it’s the softness of your skin or the curve of your jaw. Revel in it. You might notice things you don’t like, too. That’s okay, just don’t dwell on them. When a negative thought comes up, just let it pass by. Express gratitude to your body for all the ways it makes you unique and awesome.
When you’re done looking and appreciating (do this for as long as you can), write down what you remember in a journal. Have one page for positive things you noticed, and on another page spend a few minutes writing about how you felt doing that. What was it like to just focus on the good stuff? How can you make that a habit?