Can coffee help your meditation?
I personally love coffee, almost as much as meditation - wow big statement! However, for two long dark years, I sadly deprived myself of its pleasure, giving in to the chorus of condemnation perpetrated by coffee’s detractors.
For me coffee is more than just a stimulant, it is a ritual: smelling the aroma, carefully preparing the original Italian moka, waiting for the crescendo symphony which signals that the coffee is ready, pouring it, sipping it, absorbing it with all my senses.
Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the world, consumed by billions of people daily, mostly because of one ingredient: caffeine. Why? Simple: caffeine is a stimulant and has the ability to wake us up, helping us face the long office hours. It enhances mental focus which helps us perform tasks, especially if repetitive.
There is a discussion amongst meditators whether to drink coffee or drop it, when to drink it and how much. Is it ok to drink coffee before your morning session? Does it enhance your experience or inhibit the benefits?
What does caffeine do to our body? Caffeine has a double function: it blocks the adenosine receptors (chemical which signals the brain to sleep), thus preventing us to feel tired; at the same time, it triggers the release of adrenaline, which makes us feel alert. Sounds great, doesn’t it? However, too much of it and unwanted feelings of stress, anxiety, even anger make us regret the last cup we had.
Now let’s think of meditation. What are we trying to achieve when meditating? Calm, peace, slow down the mind, relaxation, quieten the relentless fury of the thoughts that like pounding waves hammer our heads with no respite.
Well, clearly it seems that caffeine and meditation have opposite effects. And in fact, unfortunately, there is no conflict resolution here. So I personally would not recommend to drink coffee before your meditation session. And if you drink coffee regularly, check your maximum limit. Mine is two cups per day. Listen to your body and feel when the jittery sensation kicks in, you have probably crossed your limit.
So if you love coffee, drink it in moderation, according to your personal tolerance and never before meditation. And if you think you are an advanced meditator and gone beyond the mind, then try this: have a big cup of coffee and check your mind activity. Good luck and let me know how you get on!
I would love to hear your story, leave a comment and share your experience. Or come to our next CLASS, let’s meditate together and chat over a nice cup of coffee - as long as it is after the session ;-)