The Zen of Coffee
We drink the sweet essence of the sacred bean in every season and for a wealth of reasons. It is solace and sustenance, the force that renews and reinvigorates both body and mind to bring focus to our days and the moments within them. In this, there is much power and possibility, and when we take that first sip, we are inviting this energy into our lives to work its magic.
Yet for all of its many capacities to illuminate, we rarely tap into what is at once coffee’s most obvious and most overlooked potential. We don’t really consider it as a meditation tool. And we should.
While it’s easy to see how coffee’s reputation as an often high-intensity fuel source would seem to disqualify it from any role in meditation, in fact, it’s ideally suited to serve as a perfect aid. Coffee clarifies the mind and draws attention to its own essential being. Like meditation itself, it’s a pause that restores and a point in time when our attention is concentrated in a single direction on something that is both everything and nothing at all.
Coffee, too, brings ritual into our lives. We prepare our cups and the balm that fills them each in our own ways and always according to a set series of long-practiced steps that lead us to the nirvana we seek. In this, there is an ideal intentionality, an unself-conscious unconsciousness that frees us to empty our minds and wash clear the dust that gathers there.
There is a physical dimension as well. Coffee’s caffeine stimulates and concentrates our minds while the dopamine whose release it promotes leaves us feeling happy and content. Such effects serve to advance the outcomes we turn to meditation to bring.
Our enjoyment of coffee comes at regular intervals throughout each day. In a world with few things we can count on, these cherished coffee breaks are reliable anchors no storm can displace. They will always occur, and when we combine them with meditation, we are creating for ourselves a consistent set of dependable spaces that effortlessly work daily meditation into our often hectic schedules.
Combining these moments with meditation needn’t be complex or time-consuming. It’s simply about hitting life’s pause button in a mindful way for just a few minutes at a time, minutes we can and should use to restore and refresh the entirety of our beings.
Begin by feeling the warmth of your cup. Focus on its touch against your skin.
How else does the cup feel? Is it smooth or rough? Light or heavy? Large or less-so?
Take note of its rising stem. Watch the tendrils drift and play.
Savor the aroma they contain. Pull it deeply into your center with slow deliberate breaths.
Now sip and let it linger on your palate. Taste its full essence. Explore its multitude of complexities.
Let nothing else enter your mind but these sensations. Let no thoughts beyond them come.
The doorway you seek is now open. Enter.