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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Tiago

Tiago uses his forbidden Internet skills to forge the basic framework of the Spiraling Up website. He teaches English in three languages on his English website. He was born in a small city in Portugal and now resides in Barcelona. His personal development journey started in 2006. He eats more lentils for lunch than you eat in a year. He’s also hilarious.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Alexander September 23, 2017 at 9:04 pm

I agree on your article. I learned it the hard way, when I found my meditation was not progressing anywhere everytime there is caffeine in my blood. Thanks for confirming it.

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