Confrontation, mindfulness and equanimity
You know it’s bad for you, but you just can’t admit it to yourself. Perhaps others around you know it, too, but they just don’t know what to say. Confrontation is difficult, but mindfulness, and yes, even cannabis’s lessons of calm and forbearance, can guide us towards the uncomfortable truths we have to face about ourselves.
Speaking for myself and my experience in 12-step, I’ve spent equal time being the confrontor and the confronted in my life, so I recognize how difficult handling delicate issues regarding mental, physical and spiritual health can be for people. And I certainly know how modern health care practitioners often approach a new flock of social-media informed patients with condescension and arrogance. Finding that proper balance of resolve, humility and compassion is crucial, and mindfulness can help you strike that crucial balance.
Of course, problematic cannabis use can definitely be cause for concern and mindful confrontation, too. As I said just a few weeks ago, the escape that cannabis provides can provide a front for self-deceit. There is a difference between that and mindful cannabis consumption, and I’ve seen both during my time. By their fruits,
ye shall know them, so respecting the strength of the strong medicine cannabis and confrontation provide, and understanding the right and wrong ways both can be applied to one’s life, can make the difference — not to mention a great stress test for one’s mindfulness practice.
The ego free method of handling confrontation
Whether it’s a best friend or oneself, it always helps to have firsthand knowledge of the condition most who are struggling find themselves in. No matter how painful or shameful their addiction or illness, acknowledging the changes one has to make is difficult, especially if s/he has been there for a long time. No matter how dysfunctional it is, there’s no place like home, basically.
Those of us who’ve gone through 12-step have been on both sides of this equation. The chief equalizer here is ego, which can disrupt any attempt to cut through the layers of denial and scuttle the opportunity for healing. That’s where mindfulness comes in. It teaches us to listen and observe before speaking and acting, and to suppress our egoic tendencies. This comes in handy in almost any life situation, but particularly in the tender ones.
- Do Not Judge: Again, judgment comes from a place of ego, and people’s defenses go up the minute it’s exhibited. It takes honesty and courage to say, “I don’t know” and enter into the darkness with yourself or the person you are attending to. What matters is that you will be present for yourself or the person next to you, and that you won’t abandon them.
- Watch out for Triggers: Especially if you’ve been in the same situation yourself – say, if you’ve also had a gambling problem, and you’re dealing with a problem gambler – it can be very triggering, so you not only have to watch for the gambler’s feelings, but your own as well. Your mindful practice will be put to the test in these situations. Let it wash over you, subside, then continue.
- Principles over Personalities: Most likely, the person on the other end of the exchange is going to lash out at you, and it may hurt a bit. You might even feel compelled to reciprocate. That’s the ego talking, padawan. Dispassionate observing of the person, the problem, and the moment can see you through these moments. You’re in service of a greater aim here, at all times.
- Extend Love & Support: When practicing mindful confrontation, I often say a variant of this “Name of person: You know I have a lot of love for you? I just can’t continue watching you harm yourself, much less support it. When you are ready to get out of it, admit that you are the creator of your own problems, I will be here waiting for you, no matter what.” Once I say it, I have to practice it in deed as well as word. Some days you’ll be better at it than others, so learn how to forgive that. By doing so, you’ll teach others how to do it as well.
Cannabis: The problem and solution
Let’s face it: sometimes, cannabis is the problem that needs confronting.
And I’ve done it myself. It all goes back to Escape. In all of those cases, cannabis became a crutch rather than a tool for assisting them in tackling their life problems. Admittedly, the difference is subtle, but important, which is why I insist that dosages are important. Taking only as much as you need from cannabis – and no more – keeps people on the right side of that fine line.
In the meantime, a person’s behavior, fortified by his/her ego, is generally the culprit. Cannabis can soften the ego immensely, and allow for real change to occur, so I’m deeply encouraged by the emergence of cannabis therapy circles that friends of mine have apprenticed in. It’s a brand new field that will develop long-overdue procedures for anyone attempting to use cannabis as a mental health remedy.
We at Medicine Box support this movement, and envision Equanimity as an important as-needed adjunct to this work. The cannabis medicine revolution means that you’re not taking Ambien to deal with sleep issues brought on by your depression, which you take Zoloft for, and your anxiety, which you take a benzodiazepine for. Your mental, physical and spiritual health are intertwined in ways which modern medicine is only beginning to understand, and moving forward necessitates developing new relationships with the natural world. Cannabis has the potential to unite ALL facets of one’s health, and pushing that forward is the Medicine Box project in a nutshell. Doing this means we’re performing our own form of confrontation with the powers that be, but it’s a necessary intervention all the same. Painful as it may be to let go of past behaviors that no longer serve us, we’ll all be happier and healthier once it’s finished.