Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Caffeine and meditation.

Before I started meditating I stopped using caffeine for two periods of over a year each. Now I'm back at it again and I'm wondering if it is effecting my ability to settle my mind during sitting and during my day generally. Certainly, I drink too much, but I find moderation very hard. I'm thinking about packing it in again.

10 comments:

  1. I just sat a weekend retreat where no caffeine was served. Then on Monday, I had my usual coffee and I hated the way it made me feel. So I have switched to lower-caffeinated tea.

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  2. I'm packing it in. I'll only drink a cup now when the withdrawal headaches start, but when they've gone I'll be caffeine free. Be careful with the decaf, it can be misleading. There's always caffeine in decaf and if you're addicted to caffeine, it'll not be long before you're back on the full-strength fellow. Check this out:

    http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/Press_releases/2004/09_29_04.html

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  3. For what it's worth, as a lifelong coffee junkie I had serious issues with Zazen and drowsiness when I tried to stop the caffeine. What I have found is that it's important to balance torpor with energy during meditation. Your body attenuates to caffeine up to a point, especially if you drink it frequently. For me, I had reached a level where I could shoot a double espresso and fall asleep! So in the spirit of the "Middle Way" I thought striking a balance of enough coffee to get my blood flowing but not enough to put my mind in a spin would be a wise choice. You have the same situation with food. To eat a large meal and then meditate is a lousy idea, but to spend your time on the cushion dealing with hunger pains is a distraction (although if you can deal with it and incorporate that into your efforts, awesome.) So for me, personally, I figured out that a half a cup of coffee with a little biscotti cookie right when I awake is a good prelude to a focused session. Then, 45 minutes later, I get up, head downstairs and eat my regular breakfast mindfully. Then it's off to the gym (where I have found you can continue your meditations in the spirit of the old monks and their manual labors!). The whole thing spans about three hours and sets up my day mind, body and spirit. So if you are able to kick the habit completely then I say well done! But I wanted to let you know that it's possible (and I know a lot of practitioners who do so) to have your coffee and inner peace too! Good luck with your endeavors! -K2

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  4. Isn't there a story that suggests that Bodhidharma was all about using Green Tea to stay awake during zazen? -

    mind you.. there's also one about him taking off his eyelids and having them turn into tea plants.. so perhaps it's best to avoid Bodhidharma stories.

    I'm a caffeine junkie. I shudder at the thought of going to a sesshin where there might be no coffee - even tea won't cut it for me. Just a strong shot or two in the morning.. it's all I ask.. sooooo.. I usually bring a plastic container of instant with me.

    I'm spending a night at sojiji and eiheiji each over the next few weeks - no starbucks for this monk - I may need to revise my packing to include said coffee (I can add it to my green tea to make it more interesting)

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  5. Bhodidharma rocks. I can just see him sitting in a cave with a Venti Starbuck's latte next to him!

    "Jittery Zen" perhaps? :)

    Now as far as adding instant coffee to green tea? Ugh! Dude! Are you searching for inner peace or irritable bowel syndrome!? Or is this some delicious treat I've just been missing out on all my life?

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  10. Caffeine is my "last" addiction (I say this because the lotus keeps opening and exposing more, like "caring what other people think"). I quit for a year but find I go to it before I go to my pillow. When I go to my pillow FIRST, I will be on a higher path, I think. I'm thinking of going to a monastery soon and "packing it in" as you say in a week-long retreat away from caffeine and media.

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