Letting go, of our burdens, of our worries, of our anxiety, is a big reason why so many of us exercise, and smoke weed. This letting go, forgetting ourselves, can also be called the ‘flow state,’ a moment of peacefulness, of reprieve, of the disappearance of consciousness, which includes worry and stress. You can enter the flow state at a concert, while working, while riding your longboard or practicing yoga. The flow state, that moment in our existence when our brain is firing gamma rays—fast, high-frequency, rhythmic brain responses that have been shown to spike when higher cognitive processes are engaged—is achievable, with or without pot. They can be activated like a lighter, turned on like a crush.
According to Dr. Greg Wells, an exercise medical researcher and expert in kinesiology, in his book Rest, Refocus, Recharge: A Guide for Optimizing Your Life, “Gamma states occur when you are in the moment, taking in information about your environment, processing that information against your established memories and experiences, all while your attention is in the here and now.” Reached on the phone to explain the flow state, Wells says, "You feel a loss of time. Hours can go by, but it feels like only moments. You become so engrossed in the moment that time fades away."
Carmen Shafer is a skateboarder, master grower, and member of Canupawakpa Dakota Sioux. She’s an athlete, activist, and cannabis consumer. For her, physical exertion, like sexuality and identity politics, are cornerstones of a fully-formed life. Flow state for her is authenticity. It’s a work in progress. She’s evolving all the time. And she says that cannabis, like riding, helps her feel more like herself. “What’s great about skating is it’s pure expression. You’re not told how you’re supposed to do it and I don’t have to conform to anything,” she says, mentioning on her board she feels weightless, that time becomes elastic, she feels free. “It took me a long time to accept and love myself, but skateboarding has been my longest relationship. On my board, it’s that ecstasy feeling. I breathe easier, my mind is empty—I feel whole.”
Feeling whole is what this issue’s about. Defying stigmas, updating the world on what society with legal cannabis looks like, at its best. October 17 marks year three of cannabis legalization and the pages that follow showcase the wide and wonderful world of weed. Athletes and activists, pioneers and pro sports stars come together, using cannabis, not to get wasted (though there’s a time for that), but to live their best lives. Dr. Wells says the flow state is a peak experience he describes as, “a heightened sense of wonder, awe, or ecstasy.” You can have a peak experience on the dance floor. At a wedding. On a hike. On the football field. It's a chance to connect with your body and give a break to your brain. After the pandemic, or with whatever stage of the pandemic we're currently wading through, health is our most natural resource. It’s our north star, our essential service. Sasha Exeter was reminded of that recently, and she changed everything. Our athletes experimented with cannabis to discover that themselves. Happy third anniversary of cannabis, people. It’s a gift to savour. Appreciate. Like Carmen Shafer, to breathe in.
“I think it’s important for people to know that just because you consume cannabis it doesn’t make you lazy,” she says. “Cannabis isn’t scary. It can help save the planet. I look at how far I’ve come with everything, and know what? I’m having the time of my life.”