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On Being Stoned, by Charles Tart

  On Being Stoned

    Charles T. Tart, Ph. D.

        Chapter 11.    The Body

    THE HUMAN BODY is something that is treated with great ambivalence in our culture. On the one hand, it is a frail thing and a source of sin and evil; on the other, a glorious creation and source of joy. Some people neglect their bodies entirely; other focus on them to the point of pathology (hypochondriasis). Our attitudes about what we put into our bodies are also extremely ambivalent; we pump them full of every food fad that comes along, alcohol, stimulants, tranquilizers, and, for some, drugs such as marijuana. Some of the dangerous drugs we put in our bodies receive great praise (alcohol, as a prime example); others, shocked horror. As well as being a reference point for many of our experiences, the body is thus a focus of many ambivalent attitudes, and it is particularly interesting to see what the effects of marijuana intoxication are on the perception of one's own body.
    We shall deal with changes in the perception of the body under three semi-distinct categories: (I) changes in the ordinarily perceived aspects of the body, such as its size and strength; (2) the body in motion; and (3) changes in the perception of the internal workings of the body, which are normally not in awareness.



Direction of Attention

    Perception of one's body is more affected by the direction of attention during marijuana intoxication than ordinarily; a common effect is "If I am paying attention to some particular part of my body, the rest of my body fades away a lot, so the part I'm attending to stands out more sharply" (13%, 15%, 37%, 27%, 6%). About as common is "I lose awareness of most of my body unless I specifically focus my attention there, or some particularly strong stimulus demands my attention there" (13%, 24%, 39%, 17%, 5%). This latter effect is more common among Non-users of Psychedelics (p <.0005). Both effects begin to occur primarily at the Strong and higher levels of intoxication (2%, 19%, 29%, 26%, 7% and 3%, 17%, 28%, 20%, 14%, respectively). The older users do not need to be as intoxicated to lose awareness of their bodies if they are not focusing there (p < .05).
    This phenomenon manifests in more extreme form with "I have lost all consciousness of my body during fantasy trips, i.e., gotten so absorbed in what was going on in my head that my body might as well not have existed for a while," a common phenomenon (10%, 21%, 36%, 20%, 10%) of the very high levels of intoxication (1%, 7%, 19%, 27%, 29%), experienced less frequently by Daily users (p <.01, overall). An even more extreme version of this phenomenon, but still fairly frequent, is "I have lost all consciousness of my body and the external world, and just found myself floating in limitless space (not necessarily physical space)" (25%, 29%, 30%, 10%, 4%), which occurs at maximal levels of intoxication (1%, 2%, 11%, 21%, 31%). The younger users need to be more intoxicated to experience this (p <.05).
Note.—For guide to interpreting the "How Stoned" graph,
see note on Figure 6-1.

    The relationships between these four phenomena dealing with awareness of the body are plotted in Figure 11-1. Totally losing awareness of the body and the world, and experiencing oneself floating in limitless space occurs less frequently than the other, less extreme ways of losing awareness of the body (p <.0005, overall). With respect to level of intoxication, the body fading from awareness unless attended to and the focused part of the body standing out more happen at essentially the same levels of intoxication. The two phenomena of totally losing awareness of one's body occur at higher levels of intoxication (p <<.0005, overall) than the previous phenomena, but these two do not differ from one another.
    Given that the perception of one's body is highly affected by the deployment of attention while intoxicated on marijuana, what are some of the specific changes?


    A common effect is "Pain is easy to tolerate if I keep my attention elsewhere" (21%, 10%, 34%, 13%, 12%), with the linked opposite effect, "Pain is more intense if I concentrate on it," which occur with essentially the same frequency (23%, 11%, 23%, 17%, 15%), an excellent illustration of the importance of deployment of attention. Both experiences occur at essentially the same Strong levels of intoxication (7%, 13%, 28%, 15%, 1% and 6%, 19%, 26%, 9%, 2%, respectively).
    The phenomenon of pain being more intense if concentrated on is affected by several background variables. It is reported more frequently by the younger users (p <.05), by the College-educated (p <.05), and by Non-users of Psychedelics (p < .05). The older users need to be more intoxicated to experience this (p <.05), while the Heavy Total lasers experience this at lower levels of intoxication than the Light or Moderate Total users (p <.05, overall).


Lightness and Heaviness

    A common experience is "With my eyes closed, my body may feel very light or even feel as if I float up into the air when stoned" (16%, 16%, 41%, 19%, 8%), which begins to occur at Strong levels of intoxication (3%, 13%, 30%, 21%, 15%). According to my informants, having the eyes closed is not necessary to experience much lightness, but is necessary to feel as if one were actually floating. This experience is more common among the College-educated (p <.01).
    The opposite phenomenon, "My body feels abnormally heavy, as if it weighed much more" (26%, 31%, 31%, 7%, 5%), is fairly frequent, but does occur significantly less frequently than lightness (p <.005), albeit at essentially the same levels of intoxication (3%, 10%, 28%, 18%, 13%). Heaviness is reported as occurring more frequently by the younger users (#p <.05).
Note.—For guide to interpreting the "How Stoned" graph,
see note on Figure 6-1.

    It is of interest to compare these phenomenological increases and decreases in the weight of one's own body with those earlier mentioned for objects, namely, objects' seeming heavier and objects' seeming lighter, discussed in full in Chapter 8. Figure 11-2 compares all four phenomena. Objects seem heavier more frequently than lighter, but one's own body seems lighter more frequently than heavier. Further, increased heaviness is more frequently attributed to objects than to one's own body (p <.05), but lightness is more frequently attributed to one's own body than to objects (p <.0005).
    In terms of levels of intoxication, overall differences among these four phenomena are quite significant (p <.0005). While the levels are not different for objects feeling lighter or heavier, or for the body feeling lighter or heavier, a higher level of intoxication is generally needed for the body to feel heavier compared to objects feeling heavier (p <.0005). The same is true for body vs. object lightness; the user must generally be more intoxicated for his body to feel light than for objects to feel light (p <.01).


Body Size

    One's own body may change in perceived size: "My body feels larger than usual" occurs infrequently (37%, 21%, 29%, 9%, 1%), as does the opposite effect, "My body feels smaller than usual" (44%, 25%, 21%, 3%, 0%). Both may begin to be experienced at Strong levels of intoxication (1%, 9%, 21%, 23%, 4% and 1%, 7%, 17%, 18%, 3%, respectively, with many users not being able to rate these). The body's feeling smaller than usual is experienced more frequently by the College-educated (p <.05) than by the Professionals, and less frequently by Light Total users (p <.05, overall). Males need to be more intoxicated than Females to experience the body's feeling smaller (p <.05).


Irritating Effect of Smoking

    An infrequent effect is a direct physiological effect of the irritating components of marijuana smoke: "Smoking grass makes me cough hard while inhaling and holding my breath" (14%, 42%, 32%, 9%, 2%). Thus, frequently, marijuana smokers use water pipes or hookahs to cool the smoke and dissolve out some of the irritating ingredients. No rating of intoxication levels was asked for, as the quantity and quality of smoke inhaled seem to be the primary factor determining irritation, although some of my informants indicated that if they are fairly intoxicated or higher, they can ignore the irritation of harsh smoke more easily and so are less likely to cough. Note that this item was scored one point on the Validity scale if a user answered Never.



    A pair of experiences relate to strength: "I feel much stronger when stoned (regardless of whether actually physically stronger or weaker)" is reported infrequently (37%, 28%, 25%, 7%, 1%), with Heavy Total users experiencing this more often than Moderates (p <.05), and Moderate Total users experiencing it more often than Lights (p <.05). These feelings of strength begin occurring at Strong levels of intoxication (4%, 13%, 25%, 13%, 3%, with 43% not rating).
    The converse effect, "I feel much weaker when stoned (regardless of whether actually physically stronger or weaker)" occurs just often enough to be rated a common effect (27%, 21%, 33%, 11%, 6%), and occurs significantly more frequently than feeling stronger (p <.05), albeit at essentially the same levels of intoxication (5%, 17%, 25%, 14%, 6%).



    The final and quite infrequent effect on the ordinarily perceived body is "My muscles develop actual physical tremors (large enough to see visually)" (51%, 23%, 17%, 4%, 3%), which may occur at the Stronger and higher levels of intoxication in the minority of users who could rate this (1%, 7%, 11%, 14%, 11%).
    These last few phenomena bring us to a consideration of the moving body in contrast to the relatively static experiences above.



Relaxation and Restlessness

    One of the most characteristic effects of marijuana intoxication is "I get physically relaxed and don't want to get up or move around" (1%, 3%, 24%, 49%, 23%), which typically begins to occur at Moderate levels of intoxication (12%, 37%, 29%, 12%, 8%). While this occurs primarily at the Fairly and Strongly levels for Occasional and Daily users, many Weekly users also indicate Very Strong and Maximal for this effect (p < .05, overall). One informant commented on this to the effect that marijuana is naturally tranquilizing; the Weekly user is busy learning about all the things he can do when intoxicated, the Occasional user hasn't learned to exert himself like the Weekly user to overcome this tranquilizing effect, and the Daily user has already explored what he can do and is content to be relaxed.

    The opposite effect, "I get physically restless so that I want to move around a lot" is common (16%, 25%, 40%, 13%, 5%), more so in the young users and the College-educated, compared to the older users (p <.05) and the Professionals (p <.01). It also occurs at Fair to Moderate levels of intoxication (13%, 29%, 26%, 7%,5%). It occurs far less frequently (p <<<.0005) than feeling relaxed and not wanting to move, as shown in Figure 11-3.



    In spite of this tendency to sit around and relax, if the user moves about, he characteristically finds his movement seems exceptionally well coordinated: "When I move about or dance, my motions seem exceptionally smooth and well coordinated" (7%, 9%, 28%, 33%, 20%). This is reported as occurring more frequently by females (p <.05) and by Non-users of Psychedelics (p <.01). It begins to occur at Moderate to Strong levels of intoxication (7%,31%, 37%, 13%, 1%), with Weekly users needing to be more intoxicated than Occasional or Daily users for this (p <.05, overall).
    The converse effect, "When I move about or dance, my motions seem awkward and uncoordinated" is infrequent (25%, 31%, 27%, 8%, 5%). It may begin to occur from Moderate Levels of intoxication and higher (7%, 17%, 19%, 17%, 8%). It is reported as occurring less frequently by Light Total users (p <.05, overall), Occasional users (p <.05, overall), and Non-users of Psychedelics (p <.01). The Professionals need to be more intoxicated to experience this awkwardness (p < .05). It is an important research problem to determine whether this is an actual decrement in coordination or simply an altered perception of one's own movements, possibly related to time alterations.
    A more extreme version of poor coordination is "My sense of balance gets very erratic, making it seem difficult to walk or even maintain a sitting position." This is a fairly frequent effect (29%, 35%, 28%, 6%, 1%) in that few users have not experienced it at all, but even fewer experience it Very Often or Usually. It is reported as occurring more frequently by females (p <.05). It generally occurs at Very Strong levels of intoxication (2%, 4%, 11%, 35%, 14%), with older users having to be less intoxicated to experience it (p <.05).
Note.—For guide to interpreting the "How Stoned" graph,
see note on Figure 6-1.

    The relationships between these three effects on the quality of movement are plotted in Figure 11-4. Movement seeming exceptionally well coordinated occurs significantly more frequently than movement being uncoordinated and jerky (p <<.0005) or than the sense of balance being lost (p <<<.0005). There is no significant difference in frequency of occurrence between awkwardness and erratic balance. Exceptional smoothness of movements occurs at lower levels of intoxication than awkwardness (p <.0005) and, in turn, awkwardness occurs at lower levels of intoxication than balance becoming lost (p < .0005). In general, marijuana intoxication seems at first to make movements feel smoother and more coordinated, but at very high levels of intoxication this may reverse and may sometimes culminate in experiential loss of the sense of balance.


Shape of the Body and Location of the Self

    We shall first consider an infrequent effect that stands as a bridge between the perception of the ordinary body with modifications and a more radical shift toward new internal perceptions. "My perception of how my body is shaped gets strange; the felt' shape or form doesn't correspond to its actual form (e.g., you may feel lopsided, or parts of your body feel heavy while others feel light," a fairly frequent effect (29%, 29%, 32%, 6%, 2%), which may begin to occur at Very Strong levels of intoxication (1%, 9%, 15%, 24%, 13%). This is of particular interest also in its relation to identity; the constancy of our perceived body can lend a stability to our sense of identity. Indeed, many people will readily localize their own consciousness in some part of their body more than others, and this may also change during marijuana intoxication. "The location of my consciousness, the physical locale of the part of me that seems most me, has moved to different parts of my physical body from those it occupies while straight" is reported, albeit infrequently (55%, 17%, 18%, 3%, 2%) and at Strong levels of intoxication by those users who could rate it (1%, 5%, 12%, 13%, 6%). The College-educated need to be more intoxicated than the Professionals to experience this (p <.01).
    Note that the rather high incidence of out-of-the-body experiences in this sample, already discussed in Chapter 10, represents an even more radical change in the experienced location of consciousness with respect to the body.


Interior Perceptions

    General awareness of internal organs and processes was investigated with "I become aware of parts of my body that I am normally unaware of can't become aware of when straight, such as internal organs." This is an infrequent effect (35%, 23%, 27%, 11%, 2%), which may begin to occur at Strong levels of intoxication (1%, 3%, 19%, 21%, 13%), and is higher for Males than Females (p <.05). The converse effect. "My body gets very numb, without feeling," however, occurs almost as frequently (42%, 29%, 22%, 5%, 1%) and at similar intoxication levels (0%, 3%, 16%, 19%, 17%). Males experience numbness slightly more often than Females (p <.05), but need to be more intoxicated to have the experience (p <.01).
    That both increased perception of internal organs and bodily numbness occur, with about equal frequency and at the same levels of intoxication, serves to underscore the importance of psychological and situational factors in determining which of many potential effects may manifest at any given time.
    We shall now consider some particular types of awareness of internal organs and processes, starting with the most frequent.



    "I feel a lot of pleasant warmth inside my body" is a common effect (13%, 13%, 34%, 25%, 13%), which begins to occur at Moderate to Strong levels of intoxication (9%, 23%, 33%, 17%, 1%).


Beating of the Heart

    "I am much more aware of the beating of my heart" is also common (11%, 19%, 41%, 18%, 10%), more so with females (#p <.05). It may begin to occur at Strong levels of intoxication (5%, 22%, 34%, 19%, 6%), with the Professionals needing to be less intoxicated to experience this (p < 05).



    "I become very aware of my breathing and can feel the breath flowing in and out of my throat as well as filling my lungs" is also common (21%, 18%, 40%, 15%, 5%), more so with the College-educated (p <.05). It may begin to occur at Strong levels of intoxication (6%, 13%, 33%, 18%, 6%). Meditators may experience this at lower levels of intoxication than the Therapy and Growth group or ordinary users (p <.01, overall), probably because so many techniques of meditation involve becoming more aware of the flow of breath.


Defecating and Urinating

    "When defecating or urinating, I become aware of the internal organ processes involved that I can't be aware of when straight." This is an infrequent effect (43%, 16%, 21%, 13%, 5%), which is reported more frequently by Heavy Total users (p <.05, overall). It is also experienced more frequently by the Therapy and Growth group (p <.05, overall). It may begin to occur at Strong and higher levels in those who experience it (1%, 7%, 19%, 17%, 5%).


Sexual Orgasm

    Note also that "Sexual orgasm has new qualities, pleasurable qualities, when stoned," is a characteristic effect. It is discussed fully in Chapter 13.
    Most of the above experiences have a known physiological basis. We now come to a group of experiences which cannot be readily conceptualized as resulting from increased awareness of known physiological processes.


Vibration, Energy, Chakra Centers

    The most common of these is "I get feelings in my body that are best described as energy, force, power of some sort flowing" (21%, 13%, 35%, 21%, 9%). Both the Meditators and the Therapy and Growth group experience this somewhat more often than Ordinary Users (p <.05, overall). It may begin to occur at Strong and higher levels of intoxication (4%, 10%, 25%, 26%, 7%). This experience is reported more frequently by Users of Psychedelics (p <.05).
    A more general phenomenon that does not specifically interpret unusual internal feelings as energy or force is "I feel a vibration or tingling sensation in some or all of my body that I can tell is not an actual muscle tremor by looking at my body," a common effect (27%, 15%, 32%, 17%, 7%). It is reported about as frequently, and at similar levels of intoxication (1%, 10%, 24%, 25%, 7%), as sensations of force or energy. It is also of interest to note that these tingling feelings are reported more frequently than actual muscle tremors (p <.0005).
    There is an occult theory, known mainly in its Indian form in the West (Garrison, 1964) but occurring in the occult traditions of many lands (Blofeld, 1970; Chang, 1963; Evans-Wentz, 1958; Frager, 1970; Govinda, 1960; Muses, 1961), that there is some sort of psychical energy that flows through man's body, and particularly through the nerves such as those in the spinal cord. This energy has been called a variety of names, such as prana in India, ki in Japan (Westbrook & Ratti, 1970), magnetic fluid (Mesmer, 1774), and odic force (von Reichenbach, 1968). While proof of the physical reality of such a force is highly debatable, it is clearly a phenomenological reality. Since experiences with some sort of energy were mentioned by informants in designing the present study, the two previous questions were included to deal with this phenomenon. The phenomenon of an aura around people (Chapter 6) is also considered a manifestation of this energy in some occult systems.
    Two more specific questions deal with the common statement in occult philosophies that the spinal cord is the main channel for this energy to flow through and that there are special centers (chakras in Yoga literature, latifa in Sufi literature; see Shah, 1968) in the body, primarily lying along the spinal cord, in which this energy may activate special sorts of experiences; i.e., if the energy flows into one of these centers, special psychological and/or spiritual experiences are manifested. An example will be given below.
    "I become very aware of my spine and feel energy f owing through it" is a rare effect (59%, 17%, 14%, 2%, 3%), which may occur at Very Strong and Maximal levels of intoxication (3%, 4%, 7%, 14%, 7%). It is reported more frequently by Meditators (p <.05, overall) and by Users of Psychedelics (p < .05).
    "I become aware of chakra centers along my spine and feel changes in my state of consciousness as energy flows through the chakras" is also a rare effect[1] (65%, 14%, 6%, 3%, 1%), which may occur at Very Strong and Maximal levels of intoxication (2%, 2%, 2%, 8%, 8%) in the few who have experienced it. It occurs more frequently among Heavy Total users (p <.05, overall) and among Meditators (#p <.01, overall).
    One of my informants, asked to describe an experience with chakra centers in detail, replied:
I occasionally try various Yoga breathing and meditation exercises when I'm stoned. Several times I've tried one of inhaling slowly and deeply, picturing a flow of energy coming in with my breath and going right on down to the base of my spine. I hold my breath for half a minute to a minute, all the time picturing an accumulation of energy in the root chakra at the base of the spine. As I slowly exhale I picture this energy as flowing up my spine, all the way up to my brain. The several times I've done this have convinced me that prana is real and powerful enough so I've decided to stop fooling around with it. The first few breaths I'm picturing, imagining all this, but then it becomes real and I can feel the energy, the prana, flowing up my spine. My consciousness is changed in distinct jumps as it goes up my spine; and by the time the prana flows into my head, there is a very distinct jump, and I'm suddenly more stoned, and 25 percent more stoned than I usually am for smoking whatever quantity of grass I've had. I'll stay more stoned as long as I keep up the exercise, but drift back down in a minute or two after I stop. I can't really describe the nature of the particular sorts of consciousness I experience as the energy jumps up along the spinal cord....
Note.—For guide to interpreting the "How Stoned" graph,
see note on Figure 6-1.

    Figure 11-5 summarizes the relationships between the four questions dealing with perception of non-physical energies. Awareness of a general tingling or vibration, or feelings of energy or force in the body, both occur commonly; awareness of energy flowing in the spine or of chakra centers occurs much less frequently (p <<<.0005, overall). Both of the latter two phenomena also occur at significantly higher levels of intoxication than the former two (p <.05, overall).


Nausea and Sickness

    Two rare phenomena complete the items dealing with the body. "I get dizzy or nauseated, so much so that I wonder if I will get sick" occurs rarely or not at all for the vast majority of users (47%, 41%, 8%, 1%, 1%). Actual sickness, "I have gotten very nauseous and vomited" is significantly (p <.0005) rarer (80%, 15%, 2%, 0%, 1%). Of the users who could rate these effects, these were generally considered the very highest-level phenomena (1%, 1%, 6%, 13%, 21% and 1%, 0%, 1%, 5%, 8%, respectively). My informants indicate that the usual way feelings of nausea are dealt with is to lie down, divert one's attention, and wait for them to pass. Usually one or two experiences with nausea are sufficient to teach a user what his overdose level is, and he will avoid smoking enough marijuana to reach that level in the future.[2]



    Many additional effects were volunteered for the body:
    "When I'm walking it seems as if the world is rolling under me and I'm remaining still" (Very Often, Fairly).
    "I become much more aware of my body temperature" (Usually, Fairly).
    "Pains in the chest" (Sometimes, Fairly).
    "I feel like I am controlling a huge machine (my body) from my eyes" (Sometimes, Very Strongly).
    "After much pot, my head feels as if it were about to explode" (Sometimes, Very Strongly).
    "My whole body is surrounded by a ghost body about six inches thick (all rounded); when I close my eyes, I fill out" (Sometimes, Very Strongly).
    "I can feel the blood rushing through my veins, pulsating throughout my entire body" (Usually, Just).
    "Body consciousness includes large amount of space all around actual physical body" (Usually, Fairly).
    "Parts of my body begin to feel as if they're moving wildly, faster and faster, in geometrical patterns. Actions I perform are repeated over and over in my mind, so that I feel that my body is racing about (i.e., I chew my food and suddenly my mouth is moving in fast, set patterns), even though I'm doing this slowly or not at all" (Very Often, Very Strongly).
    "My feet and legs immediately become cold and numb when stoned and become progressively number and colder as my 'stonedness' increases in magnitude. When exceptionally stoned, I sometimes feel no contact with my skin. I've received surface injuries and not felt them. Heat and cold are difficult to perceive. I've walked in snow barefoot and not felt cold" (Very Often, Strongly).
    "I become keenly aware of unrelaxed muscles and sphincters" (Sometimes, Very Strongly).



    The various phenomena are arranged by levels of intoxication in Figure 11-6. The overall ordering is highly significant (p <<<.0005).


FIGURE 11-6.
Just        Fairly    Strongly    Very

Type size code:
Float in space
Feel nauseated
Aware of chakras
Feel energy in spine

Just        Fairly    Strongly  Very

    Effects on the perception of the user's body begin between the Fairly and Strongly intoxicated levels, and at first consist primarily of alterations in the perceived interaction of the body with external objects, i.e., the touch and muscle senses. As the user gets higher, sexual orgasm characteristically acquires new, pleasurable qualities, and a variety of internal processes may become accessible to awareness if attention is turned there. From this level up, the experienced body becomes more and more affected by the direction of attention rather than by the inherent physical structure of the body.
    Between the Strong and Very Strong levels of intoxication, very unusual sorts of perceptions may begin to occur, which become more pronounced at higher levels, namely, sensations of vibration and energy inside the body, as well as the increased possible awareness of internal organs. The size and shape of the user's body may seem to change and the location of his consciousness in his body alter. Between Very Strongly and Maximally intoxicated, he may lose all awareness of his body during fantasy, and a few users may become aware of the chakra centers along the spine. At the maximal levels the user may feel nauseated, although this is rare, and even more rarely may actually vomit as a result of this nausea.



    Background factors affecting perception of the body, which had relatively linear effects, are summarized in Table 11-1. Both more drug experience and experience with meditation are associated with more frequent experience of energy in the body and some of its exotic concomitants such as chakra centers.
    Feeling physically relaxed and not wanting to move is mostly reported at Fairly/Strongly as a minimal level of intoxication, but Weekly users have a significant number of responses at Very Strong/Maximum for this. The same pattern occurs for Weekly users on levels of intoxication for movement being exceptionally smooth.


TABLE 11-1
More Drug ExperienceMore frequent:
    Body feels smaller
    Feel stronger
    Aware of internal organs when
    Feel energy in spine
    Aware of chakra centers
    Movements awkward
    Feelings of energy in body
Less frequent:
    Lose awareness of body parts not
    Pain more intense
    Movement exceptionally smooth,
    Lose consciousness of body in fantsy
Less intoxicated for:
    Pain more intense
More intoxicated for:
    Pain more intense
Less frequent:
    Pain more intense
    Body feels heavier
    Physically restless
Less intoxicated for:
    Float in limitless space
    Lose awareness of body parts not
      focused on
    Balance erratic
More Educated 
More intoxicated for:
    Movements awkward
Less frequent:
    Pain more intense
    Body feels light
    Body feels smaller
    Hyperaware of breathing
    Physically restless
Less intoxicated for:
    Location of consciousness moves
    Aware of heart beating
MalesMore frequent:
    Body feels numb
More intoxicated for:
    More aware of internal organs
    Body feels numb
    Body feels smaller
Less frequent:
    Aware of heart beating
    Movements exceptionally smooth,
    Balance erratic
MeditatorsMore frequent:
    Energy in body
    Energy in spine
    Aware of chakra centers
Less intoxicated for:
    Hyperaware of breathing
Therapy & GrowthMore frequent:
    Aware of internal organs when
    Energy in body



    Except for various enhancements of touch sensation, physical relaxation, and smoothness of movement, there are practically no characteristic effects of marijuana intoxication on the perception of the user's body, i.e., while there are many potential alterations of the perception of the body, few of them are highly likely unless specific psychological and situational factors bring them out.
    In general, the perception of the body becomes less determined by actual structure and more affected by the deployment of attention during marijuana intoxication. The body and its parts may fade partially or completely from awareness if not concentrated on, and the user may totally lose awareness of his body and be immersed in some internal experience or fantasy. When attention is deployed properly (voluntarily or by circumstances), a wide variety of perceptions of the internal workings of the body are possible, including many processes which one cannot normally be aware of. It is also common for various feelings described as energy, force, or power to be sensed within the body.
    The only bodily effect of marijuana intoxication that is decidedly unpleasant, nausea, is a rare effect, usually coped with by the user's diverting his attention; actual sickness is extremely rare.
    These experimental alterations of bodily perception could be of great theoretical importance to psychosomatic medicine and the study of the relationship of identity to the body.



    1. It is interesting to note that most users (89 percent) apparently knew what chakras were, for few skipped this question completely as they had been instructed to do if a question made no sense to them. This reflects the tremendous rise of interest in metaphysics and the occult among the young. (back)
    2. In many of the laboratory studies of marijuana or one of its active ingredients, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), nausea is frequently reported by subjects, suggesting that the experimenters may be overdosing them. While such findings are of interest in a purely scientific sense, they are not representative of the ordinary use of marijuana. (back)

Chapter 12

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