Source: funnyordie.com via Delores on Pinterest
“Caffeine gets a woman ready for Sex.”
This is what one website proclaimed as I researched the pros and cons of drinking coffee. I was looking for a way to justify breaking the rules of “My Meditation & Winter Cleanse Challenge.” I was feeling guilty but mostly disappointed in myself for going astray so easily. However, the guilt melted away as my experience offered a new perspective on self care.
It was day 75 of the 90 day challenge. I had eased into the detox diet after a bit of a rough start, remaining consistent with the original plan and then adapting it as the season changed. (Less beans and rice and more raw foods) After a little over two months of eating vegan, gluten free and unprocessed foods and beverages I was beginning to notice a difference in my mind, body and spirit.
My skin has been blemish free with a noticeable glow that has incurred favorable compliments. My spirit has been feeling light and unrestrained. My body has been running very clean.
And by “running clean” I probably mean the astounding level of increased flatulence and “poop mass.”
Did you know that it is normal to pass gas 13 to 21 times per day and to have 3-5 bowel movements per day?! With that said, If there is a world record for this I am sure that I have broken it by now. Apparently all of my inner gears are lubed and in working order!
While all of the bodily functions are happy and healthy, it seems my mind has been working on a delayed start. I have been bumping into myself as I wade through the thick fog of my reality. The cloudier it gets the more my mind plays tricks on me. My ego began to feed into the opportunity of my vulnerability resulting in self doubt.
I had noticed the sluggishness of my brain several weeks ago. I figured I would eventually adapt and told myself to stick to the plan. (Besides that, how could I possibly disappoint my ‘elephriends”?!)
As I worked my way through a seven day yoga retreat the mellow mind fog meshed well with the ease of having no schedule, worries or agendas. In fact it was barely noticeable as I floated between yoga classes, meditations, workshops and body work.
A few days after I returned from the retreat I realized I was operating on autopilot. I was feeling spacey, tired, achy and unmotivated.
At first, I chalked it up to having withdrawals from the blissful elation of the “zen bubble” I had settled into so easily. I continued with my meditation practice, which was finally coming along with 18 days of sitting in row.
However, I began to become concerned when I felt like a sloth in spite of a beautiful sunny 65 degree spring day. I would normally be frolicking in the yard and digging in the dirt.
I began to think that something was really wrong with me. I considered depression, the pull of the full moon, my menstrual cycle, stress, anxiety, a Fibromyalgia flair up and even adrenal fatigue.
I was beginning to feel paranoid when I could find no solid answers for the heaviness surrounding my thought processes. The longer these feelings remained the more they snowballed into irrational fear.
One day, as I perused articles on elephant journal, I stumbled across the blog, Beautiful Agony: 8 Songs that Parallel the Rhythmic Path to Orgasm, by Waylon Lewis. It was as if a light bulb had suddenly appeared over my head with a thought bubble that said…
“Eureka! Self Love!! That must be it!!”
Before I could finish the entire article I found myself bounding up the stairs to my bedroom and as the music from the Gladiator Soundtrack crescendo-ed, I was thrilled to have found what seemed to be the cure-all for mental mush right at the end of my fingertips! As I lay there panting and spent, trying to think of a way to market this, the monkey crawled right back onto my shoulder, leading me in a wild goose chase through the maze of my doubtful mind.
Alas, masturbation was only a quick fix in clearing the clouds cast by monkey brained shenanigans. My clarity had also climaxed and I was right back to where I was before.
Source: google.com via Morgan on Pinterest
This just wasn’t going to work but I had run out of ideas and was feeling defeated. Why on earth would I be feeling this way when I have been treating myself in the most healthy way possible for every aspect of my being; body, mind and spirit.
As I headed into another day of teaching yoga I was feeling confused and discouraged.
Should I go see a doctor? What if I have cancer? Why do I feel this way? Help!
I don’t know what made me walk to the local coffee shop that day, but before I knew it I had ordered an eight-ounce almond milk “Bee’s Knees” latte. It was the healthiest coffee beverage I could think of because it is sweetened with only a splash of honey. With the beans being organic and roasted locally, I was able to easily justify the purchase. I had not had caffeine or coffee in over two months and I couldn’t’ believe I was going to break the detox so close to the end goal.
Feeling my rebellious side kick in I decided to indulge before the angel on the other shoulder could convince me otherwise.
The effects were immediate….
First, I inhaled the rich aromatic scent as it drifted up to greet me. It was intoxicating. As I closed my eyes I smiled with pleasure having noted my heightened olfactory senses. I was completely embracing the moment. I took the first sip and as the thick, bittersweet liquid passed my lips and continued down my throat, I felt tingles from head to toe. As if I had just wrapped my favorite comforter around my shoulders after it had been warmed by the afternoon sun. I savored, with presence, every last drop of the simple pleasure. Oh, how I had missed the taste, smell and texture of coffee, such a decadent and delightful beverage.
Fifteen minutes later I realized the cloud cover had lifted. I was inspired once again. I managed to go about my day with motivation, cheerfulness and creativity. My yoga practice was invigorating and so were the classes that I taught. I found myself accomplishing every task that I had set out to do that day with extra time to spend reading with my daughter. I ended my day with a new found sense of presence, gratitude and accomplishment.
Is it possible that nearly three months of feeling groggy mentally could be so easily remedied with one little cup of coffee?
Source: imagecache6.allposters.com via Maricruz on Pinterest
I decided to do some research on the benefits and/or harms of caffeine via coffee consumption.
Here is what I discovered:
*Can improve both mood and brain function. (It can make you smarter!)
*Improve motivation and reaction time. (It can make you faster!)
*Increase power and strength. (It can make you stronger!)
*Helps body burn fat rather than glucose.(It can help you lose weight!)
*Can lower risk of certain cancers due to antioxidant content.
*Can lower mortality rates.(It can help you live longer!)
*Can improve muscle tone and circulation.
*Can lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
*Can protect against Dementia and Alzheimer’s.
(Mostly when consumed in high quantities such as more than 4 cups every day)
*Can cause sleep disturbances, irregular heartbeat, restlessness, anxiety, irritability, heartburn and digestive disorders.
*Interferes with the body’s ability to absorb nutrients due to its diuretic effects.
*May harm unborn fetuses
* High contents of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides.
So what have I concluded from all of this research?
A) Our bodies are designed to let us know when something is out of alignment. It is really important to listen to this and to adapt our lives accordingly in a mindful and positive way, even if it means breaking our own rules.
B) That coffee can be beneficial if used mindfully and with moderation.
Here are some helpful tips to enjoying the perks of coffee with little or no harmful side effects:
1) Drink organic coffee.
2) When drinking decaf coffee try products that do not use chemicals such as Swiss processing or shade grown beans.
3) Drink coffee with lower caffeine types such as dark roasts or green bean coffee.
4) Drink a lot of water to avoid dehydration.
5) Take supplements to replenish what coffee may have filtered out of your body.
6) Use filtered coffee and when using coffee makers that require filters choose unbleached varieties.
7) Do not drink coffee after meals to avoid adverse blood sugar levels.
8) Do not drink it if you are pregnant.
9) If you feel that you are needing more coffee to keep you going then it is a good time to take a break and reboot your system with a cleanse or detox.
10) Cut back on the coffee “add ins” such as creamer and sugar, these things can add calories as well as contribute to the spikes after the stimulation has worn off.
11) If you are finding yourself sleepless at night, do not drink coffee after 2pm.
While I don’t intend to jump right back on the coffee habit, I am grateful for the lesson learned here. That we do not have to feel guilty for certain indulgences even if it means breaking our own rules, that there is a way to indulge mindfully and moderately and that it is important to listen to one’s body as it has subtle ways of speaking to us.
I hope this experiment of mine has also helped you navigate your journey through this strange trip called life.
I leave you with this quirky, witty and informative video about coffee.
Nichole Gould is the founder of Barefoot Warrior Yoga in The White Mountains of New Hampshire. As a Student of life, yogini, yoga teacher, landscape gardener, single mother, organic pizza waitress and lover of all board sports, she considers herself a jack of much and a master of none. She can also be found dabbling with guitar playing, singing off key, reading from her many stacks of books or writing poetry. Feel feel to peruse her Facebook page or contact her via her website for more insight into her ever curious mind.
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Ed: Kate Bartolotta