Flat white, extra mindfulness.
Want to start your day more mindfully? Use your coffee to practice presence on-the-go.
Life is better when it’s lived in the present. The problem is, most of us are too busy to go there. As a Mindfulness teacher, the most common complaint I hear from clients is they haven’t got time to meditate and the present is permanently out of their reach.
When you think of someone meditating, the stereotype of sitting cross-legged still prevails. It’s not wrong — many people meditate that way — but it’s not the only way to go about it. You can meditate in any position; sitting, standing, walking/moving, even lying down.
In the formal practice of mindfulness meditation, you’re training your brain to pay attention and to focus, which amps up your skills to live more mindfully. It helps you to become more present on-the-go. Whether you’re sitting on the floor, in a chair, walking, stretching or lying down — simply bringing more mindful moments and presence into your day wherever you can has it’s benefits.
If you haven’t got time to sit, take your meditation off the cushion and build your skills more ‘informally’, as you move through your day. Everything you do offers the opportunity to become a meditation and you can bring a sense of mindfulness to any activity you’re doing. As long as you remember to integrate it, it will slip into your schedule no problem.
A simple strategy that you can do daily is to try having a mindful beverage (tea, coffee, lemon water or whatever your morning tipple may be) when you wake up. It’s an easy way to create a routine that brings more awareness and consciousness into your everyday life, training your mindfulness muscle to become stronger over time. Let’s look at how a few simple shifts in your coffee-drinking routine can make a significant difference to how you start your day.
Coffee to go.
You grab the first cup you see and put it under the coffee machine. You impatiently hit a button to make your drink for you as you stare into space and think about the day’s tasks ahead. A thought pops into your mind and sends you walking off into the other room as the coffee brews. Now you’re replaying that awful meeting you were in yesterday over and over in your head, ruminating over how bad it all went. You feel terrible. You come back to the kitchen and grab the cup, throwing barely fresh milk in it as you start venting to your partner about the stress you’re under. You start to sip the coffee as you reach for your phone and scroll through your Facebook newsfeed. You leave the drink on the table, interrupted by the sound of an email reaching your computer. You don’t make it to your computer, you get distracted looking for your handbag. Heart pumping and mind racing, the (unfinished) coffee goes cold. You don’t notice the abandoned cup as you leave the house for work.
You weren’t present or focussed for any part of the coffee-drinking experience; your mind was always on something else. It wasn’t satisfying, it was mindless.
… Ready for a refill?…
You select your favourite mug off the shelf and place it carefully under the coffee machine. You reach for the coffee packet, noticing the country of origin. You focus your attention on the noise of the coffee brewing and the sight of it filling the cup. You lift the cup noticing it’s warmth. You intentionally don’t add milk — you‘ve been limiting your intake lately. The cup gently warms your cold hands. You slowly take a sip, smelling the fresh scents, noticing it’s rich earthy flavours, experiencing the texture. Your senses come alive. It warms your mouth, then your throat as you drink. You enjoy every sip without distraction from any of your devices — they are all out of sight. This is your time to do nothing but tune in. The caffeine starts to work as you notice a familiar buzz. Every time thoughts pop into your mind, you gently re-focus on the experience of drinking, letting them go as you stay in the moment. This moment. You feel calm, you feel present and you feel gratitude for the whole experience. You move into your day sustaining a sense of relaxed awareness.
This time, you felt a sense of presence. You focussed on the experience and were living in the moment. You carried this awareness forwards into your day.
Adding more mindfulness into your day is a subtle yet profound shift to make. It all starts with integrating a few short moments of practicing awareness. Take your meditations with you, wherever you go and whatever you’re doing, and notice what happens when you practice the art of presence.
At the very least, let the idea percolate for a while…