I was recently chatting with a girlfriend, and she said those magical words, “Oh, I’m dragging, I need a coffee…” and it got me thinking about my own relationship with caffeine.
I used to love to drink Diet Coke. During my ten year stint teaching college, I commuted from Chicagoland up to the Milwaukee region to attend school for music therapy. Long days of lecturing, teaching lessons and grading papers left me craving energy for the long drive north. The caffeine from Diet Coke gave me the kick I needed to get through those days, but I began to notice that it made my stomach hurt. The deeper I got into yoga and a cleaner lifestyle, the less appealing Diet Coke became, until eventually it just fell away. Here’s a few things I picked up along the way.
1. Love yourself. Love your caffeine.
That’s right, love it! Come into what yogis call a right relationship to your caffeine. Do you berate yourself for drinking coffee or soda? Do you order one, and then instantly say “Oh, I’ll probably hate myself for this later?” or otherwise speak meanly about yourself to your friends? Are you just plain mean to yourself with negative thoughts and finger-pointing shaming self-judgement? Hey! Stop it! If you’re anything like me, the instant I say I can’t have something I tend to want more. If I say I won’t eat a cookie, then I’ll have three just to rail against the constraint.
Continuous negative thoughts only creative a cycle of lack, tension, and resentment. Not really a recipe for health.
Instead, substitute the negative thoughts with a nice one; “I appreciate the energy this caffeine is giving me, thanks!” and sip away.
2. Add in more yummies
Go ahead and have your caffeine, and add in stuff that gives you the energy you desire. Whether it’s mental, physical or spiritual energy you crave, lavish it upon yourself! Feed your senses with candles, incense, cookies, green smoothies, hugs; give yourself the best.
There are many days where I have both green juice and a latte, I know that both fuel my body in different ways, and I feel I’m in right relationship with both beverages.
I have a love/hate relationship with caffeine, as I'm sure many people can relate to. It speaks of weakness, an addiction that can be costly and unnecessary. It also speaks of comfort, community, and motivation. In moderation, it can be healthy. The way I drink it: light, sweet, and usually chocolatey is not so healthy. Regardless, I wake up in the morning, anticipating the aroma of coffee brewing, and that first delicious taste...and then after about the fourth or fifth sip, I start to feel gross. My stomach gets upset, and my body feels all jittery. I think my body is telling me to not drink coffee, but I love it! I focus many activities around coffee, as so many others do as well. It takes the edge off of difficult tasks, and gives me something to look forward to on crazy days. To take it out of my life would be extremely difficult.
However, as my body's reaction to this simple pleasure continue to taint the enjoyment, I have been looking for other alternatives. I have found that I love chai lattes, and Starbucks even makes it frozen. Green smoothies in the afternoon help me to get out of a funk, and make me feel better than coffee ever has. I don't think my relationship with coffee is, or ever will be, over, but it's a small step in listening to my body over my mind.
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