Coffee and Meditation

by Tiago on January 19

Coffee is delicious, but how helpful is it when you want to meditate?Coffee. Closely tied to colonialism. First consumed in the Sufi monasteries of Yemen back in the 15th century. Coffee seems to do a bunch of good things if you drink it with restraint and a number of bad things to you if you drink too much of it every day.

This is something I’ve learned over time, and it seems silly, but coffee shuts down my ability to meditate properly. I also feel it saps some of my creativity and intuition for a good hour or two after drinking it.

There are a number of articles out there that immediately go against my view, though most of them are subjective. I accept that maybe coffee affects people differently, but I’m not trying to convince anyone so much as I am trying to understand the subject. Mindbodygreen has a guest post with the opposite viewpoint here. Sharemindfulness has an interesting post that I like where they explain that you should try meditating with coffee and without coffee to see how you feel. Personal experimentation is the fastest route to making the right call, in this case.

Since this stuff can be incredibly subjective I thought I’d look at some studies to see if my feelings on the matter were backed up by science. Here’s what I found:

As a central-nervous-system stimulant caffeine certainly increases energy metabolism throughout the brain thus giving you more energy for earthly, material things. Need to pack some crates? Go for the caffeine.

Yet, after doing some digging, I’ve found that it decreases cerebral blood flow, inducing a relative brain hypoperfusion. Caffeine activates noradrenaline neurons and affects the local release of dopamine.

Here we have a study that shows that coffee does exactly this: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1356551.

Here’s another study that shows that chronic consumption of caffeine reduces cerebral blood flow: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19219847.

And here we have a study on meditation that shows that meditation increases cerebral blood flow: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14620252.

So if meditation and similar practices usually increase cerebral blood flow, and consuming caffeine usually reduces cerebral blood flow, I don’t think it’s such a stretch to say that caffeine potentially has the power to significantly reduce the quality of your meditations.

Personal experimentation is a powerful tool for self-discovery and is essential in the assimilation of knowledge and developing a real understanding of the subject at hand. In this case, I highly recommend it. In my experience, coffee does more harm than good if a good meditation is my goal.

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My Libido Died. And It Didn’t Kill Me.

by Spiraling Up on November 4

Which was a surprise to me actually. It was something I had dreaded and struggled against for years. I mean my libido, my sexuality, was an integral part of me. I didn’t even know who I was without it. Heading into my 50’s the loss of my libido was one of the foremost worries in my mind.

Despite the common perceptions about the death of sex in long-term relationships ours had always been good. In quality and frequency. Even after 25 years. Looking back now that descriptor—good—seems ridiculous. What does that mean anyway? Good compared to what exactly?

While it’s not something I really talk much about, from time to time discussions would arise (casually and jokingly usually) about people’s sex lives (or lack thereof). Men would joke about not getting any. A friend mentioned that he agreed to have another child in the hopes of finally getting some. Another friend talked about how, you know, a week turns into two, then four, and next thing you knew it had been six months since you had been intimate.

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commitmentANDconsistency

This article is for the people who want to follow through on things but somehow always seem to stumble and fall.

Commitment and consistency are difficult for a lot of people. If you look back you will see that at some point in your life, you made some promises (to yourself) that you didn’t keep. Let’s say that you’ve decided to stick to a new diet, but after a week, you went off the rails.

This is normal. You’re not some special snowflake. This happens to a ton of people. Someone I know has been trying to stop smoking for more than thirty years. Still hasn’t done it.

As someone who (on certain things) struggles with being consistent, one of the things that has greatly helped me is the realization that I am not always the same person. Let me explain:

When you promise to yourself that you will do X, Y or Z, you are often in a specific state, a strong version of yourself if you will. But you are not always in this optimal state. Your mood, hormones and energy levels vary greatly throughout the day, and different parts of you take over at different times.

This is why it can be so difficult to, for example, maintain healthy eating habits. The conscious you understands the importance of eating healthy, and, when it is the part of you that is controlling you at that moment, you follow its advice.

But in real life, something will eventually happen. You’ll have a shitty day or you’ll sleep only four hours and another part of you takes over—let’s call it the fatigued you. The fatigued you does not agree with conscious you’s decisions. It sees a big, fat chocolate cake and eats it so it can feel better.

When you make a decision to do something that must be done for weeks, you are asking all parts of yourself to follow. If they do not all unanimously agree with your decision, then when the time comes when that part of you takes over, it will sabotage your efforts because it doesn’t want what the other parts of you want.

5 Tips to Stay Consistent and Committed

  1. Negotiate with all parties to form a government – Talk to each facet of your personality and explain your decision. It’s important to be somewhat specific here—vague instructions like “be healthy” won’t have much power. Once you’ve decided on something specific, several parts of you will disagree with you while others will agree. Negotiate with the parts of you that disagree with your decision and try to arrive at a compromise. This is what governments do.
  2. Believe in yourself – If you have a part of you that does not believe that it can realistically do something, it will try to sabotage everyone else to make sure that the status quo is maintained. It’s important that you talk to this part of yourself and convince it of the possibility that this goal might be achievable. You can do this by showing it data that proves that what you’re trying to do is achievable, or you can remind it of all the times you did achieve something, etc. Don’t let a lack of faith in yourself drag you down.
  3. Discipline is still important – You will, at times, have to invoke the police force of your mind to make sure that your internal government is running smoothly. Sometimes lazy you really just wants to do nothing for an unacceptable stretch of time. This is where you must apply force and use self-discipline to remind lazy you that the laws are there for a reason and that they must be followed for the good of the whole.
  4. Don’t focus on the negatives – A pragmatic part of you will look at all the reasons why something is not achievable. Shift its focus towards the positives to maintain your momentum.
  5. Start small – It can be hard to convince the various government members to undertake a large project, but it is much easier to convince them if you start with a smaller project or undertaking.

You may simply need to reevaluate what all parts of you really want and make sure that you find a way to get them to agree on something. If you can do that, then you’ll be able to make progress on your goals and finally stop yourself from sabotaging your own progress.

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10creativeways

Can’t solve that pesky problem? Need some inspiration for your next art project? Or maybe you feel like you’re stuck in a rut and don’t know what to do next with your life. Here are some unique ways to brainstorm some good ideas.

 

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why-1352167_1280I’ll have the freedom to work whenever I want. I can be with my daughter and give her the quality time that she needs. I can fire clients and I can hire out all those tasks that I really don’t want to do. I can do what I love, and get up every morning motivated and looking forward to the day to come!

Well… Yeah. No.

Right now, I’m having equal moments of frustration and joy in deciding whether to start a business. I am having doubts and feeling confident, often at the exact same time, even. Right now, I am in the trenches, and I don’t know if it will be worth it in the end. 

But this is my experience so far. It might help you decide, too.
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