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Thread: caffeine and zazen.........again

  1. #1

    caffeine and zazen.........again

    my sitting for the past 2 months has been very scattered, mind wandering, etc. -- i was wondering what kind of change i was going through -- then today, finally, i noticed how clear, aware, present i was during my sit -- then i remembered that following a rare ingesting of a margarita last nite, i indulged in a green tea this morning, just prior to the sit -- i had quit caffeine 2 months ago, due to some medical stuff i was in -- it bothers me that 30 mg of caffeine would have such an effect on me -- after two months of observing my scattered mind, all it takes is a cup of tea to feel clear? -- has anyone else noticed this in their practice? -- does anyone out there sit under the influence of this stimulant? -- is anyone else addicted to it?

    gassho, roky

  2. #2

    Re: caffeine and zazen.........again

    Quote Originally Posted by roky
    my sitting for the past 2 months has been very scattered, mind wandering, etc. -- i was wondering what kind of change i was going through -- then today, finally, i noticed how clear, aware, present i was during my sit -- then i remembered that following a rare ingesting of a margarita last nite, i indulged in a green tea this morning, just prior to the sit -- i had quit caffeine 2 months ago, due to some medical stuff i was in -- it bothers me that 30 mg of caffeine would have such an effect on me -- after two months of observing my scattered mind, all it takes is a cup of tea to feel clear? -- has anyone else noticed this in their practice? -- does anyone out there sit under the influence of this stimulant? -- is anyone else addicted to it?

    gassho, roky
    Hi Roky,

    Even Buddhist monks drink tea and coffee (in fact, they are said to have brought tea to Japan, and developed the tea ceremony). During any Sesshin I have sat at temples in Japan, the tea has been available any time. It is considered a mild, harmless wake up ...

    But ... all things in moderation!!

    We recently had a thread about what can happen when one overdoes, goes to excess!

    viewtopic.php?p=31976#p31976

    Gassho (with my morning coffee), Jundo

  3. #3

    Re: caffeine and zazen.........again

    Hi!

    I am more or less incapable of sitting (or doing anything really) in the morning without a cup o caffeine. I go to the kitchen in a zombie state - make coffee, drink it while listening to Jundo or Taigu (or perhaps read a little Suzuki), then sit. I have been curious as to what others do... Coffee, tea, work-out, shower, or (gasp!) straight to the zafu on rising?

    m

  4. #4

    Re: caffeine and zazen.........again

    Hello Mark,

    I usually rise, go to the toilet and then grab my zafu...mostly not while being on the toilet

    Gassho,

    Hans

  5. #5

    Re: caffeine and zazen.........again

    I don't mind being stimulated by a cup of coffee first thing in the morning. I then read, stretch and sit. I probably drink more coffee in the winter to keep warm. I don't like iced coffee anytime. Moderation is the key, I know when I've had too much caffeine, but this too passes.

  6. #6

    Re: caffeine and zazen.........again

    Hiyas
    I sit afternoons and night time due to life, and all are usually after tea @ lunch and coffee in the evening. Mornings i do manage to get outta bed before the kids or before its time for work I sit caffine free, like Hans said, Toilet>Zafu>sit. Lately, with my wife off maternity leave and back to her evening shifts at work, im up until 1am (only chance to see here in through the week) and the alarm goes off at 5am - so Alertness and time are very fleeting around the house so caffeine free=asleep on the cushion.

    With caffine or with out zazen is zazen...
    *THUD* zzZZzzzZZZZzzz

    Gassho
    Shohei

  7. #7

    Re: caffeine and zazen.........again

    Hi Mark,

    I very rarely drink caffeine any more, so on the odd occasion when I mistake a cup for the decaff version the effect is REALLY strong :shock: . It makes me feel terrible, nothing specific, just an indistinct background dreadfulness that creeps up on me. At some point I ask myself "Why am I feeling so lousy?", then realise it was the coffee and I find it's actually good to do a bit if insta-zazen© then as experiencing the lousy feeling underlines the metta text about being "well and at ease in my ills/being at peace and embracing all conditions of life". The practice doesn't change anything but helps to get into the habit of sitting no matter what stuff is going on in life instead of thinking, "I feel lousy, something must be wrong, I'll skip sitting today".

    "I believe that water is the only drink for a wise man; wine is not so noble a liquor; and think of dashing the hopes of a morning with a cup of warm coffee, or of an evening with a dish of tea! Ah, how low I fall when I am tempted by them!"
    - Thoreau
    (ploughing a lonely furrow here, I feel...)

    gassho
    Michael

  8. #8

    Re: caffeine and zazen.........again

    i wish i could just do it in moderation, but i can't, so i'll attempt to stay off it -- what i was really wondering, though, my addiction aside, is whether anyone else has noticed a difference in their zazen depending on whether or not they're on caffeine -- that's assuming you're not on or off it continuously -- for me, whenever i'm on a substance, i notice it(otherwise i want my money back :lol: ), and zazen being the microscope it is, i can really see the effect on my mind while sitting -- as in:"ahhh, this is mind without caffeine -- this is mind with caffeine" -- and the difference is quite predictable

    in fact if you want to throw in any other chemical effects, i'm interested -- for instance, i once did an all day sit on lsd -- wow, talk about focused :!: -- probably the best trip i ever had, just me, the acid, the sand dunes, the ravens, and the breathe

    gassho, roky

  9. #9
    Senior Member Hogo's Avatar
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    Re: caffeine and zazen.........again

    Quote Originally Posted by roky
    i wish i could just do it in moderation, but i can't, so i'll attempt to stay off it -- what i was really wondering, though, my addiction aside, is whether anyone else has noticed a difference in their zazen depending on whether or not they're on caffeine -- that's assuming you're not on or off it continuously -- for me, whenever i'm on a substance, i notice it(otherwise i want my money back :lol: ), and zazen being the microscope it is, i can really see the effect on my mind while sitting -- as in:"ahhh, this is mind without caffeine -- this is mind with caffeine" -- and the difference is quite predictable

    in fact if you want to throw in any other chemical effects, i'm interested -- for instance, i once did an all day sit on lsd -- wow, talk about focused :!: -- probably the best trip i ever had, just me, the acid, the sand dunes, the ravens, and the breathe

    gassho, roky
    Toilet, coffee watch birds at feeder, coffee, check treeleaf forums and sunspace sit along page (as I sit here now) with a coffee, Sit, coffee .....how many cups is that? off to work or chores, playing or whatever the day holds.

    As you can see from my pattern I may have a coffee moderation issue in the morning. I have been wondering the same thing lately about sitting while "ON" coffee. I have seen many references to avoiding substance that alters the mind, alcolhol, drugs seem obvious. Not sure how I feel about Coffee, I will give it a shot and get back to you in a few (I'll start tommorow Already on my second cup today) I quit smoking a year ago so this should be easy :roll: *gulp*
    gassho ~ Dave C.

  10. #10
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: caffeine and zazen.........again

    Hey Roky,

    I can't really help you with this one since I don't drink coffee and have cut back my relatively low soda consumption. I actually find that neither caffiene or alcohol have much effect on me, so I have never really been attracted to using either one. It is actually a bit ironic that I often feel like I'm not part of the group when I don't partake in either "vice" and such a phenomenon is why my father in law took up smoking many years after quitting. For me though that never seemed like the thing to do so I don't touch any of it.

    I know that isn't helpful at all, but I did want to let you know I was reading. Maybe I'll have more to say on your next question! Good to see you back in our virtual halls.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  11. #11

    Re: caffeine and zazen.........again

    howdy dosho, thanks for the kind words -- andrew weil, before becoming the health guru, wrote a book, the natural mind, in which he proposed that all drugs were active placebos, that it was the mind that produces all the effects -- not surprising, since, in one way, it all takes place in the "mind" -- so i suppose you've already got what you need w/o any additives

    dave, from what i here, if you can give up smoking, you can give up anything

    michael, thanks for that thoreau quote -- now i feel i'm at least in good company in my aversion to daily doses of anything

    well, 10:27 mst, good time to sit, w/o caffeine -- i'll probably be composing my next post in my head, which is why i frequently do a posting fast

    gassho, roky

  12. #12
    Senior Member KellyRok's Avatar
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    Re: caffeine and zazen.........again

    Hello all,

    Hi Roky,

    I'm very sensitive to caffeine! I drink one cup of tea in the morning (usually Chai - my favorite) to get started. I usually don't sit until late morning around 10:30/11. One cup of tea doesn't seem to adversly affect my sit - I can usually calm down fairly quick. I also have a cup of green tea in the afternoon, usually after lunch. However, any more than a cup of tea at a time, and I get 'wired'. I definitely cannot drink more than one cup of coffee in the morning, which I try to avoid completely if I'm going to sit. Coffee does affect my sit greatly, I get nervous, agitated, having a mind that just won't settle and that is lead to irrational thoughts. It also raises my heartrate and blood pressure too much. I just don't like that 'edgy' feeling. If I drink coffee, it has to be decaf.

    I'm also one of those weird people who cannot take sinus, allergy, or cold meds unless they are for children or at least a children's dose. Some meds keep me up all night, while others make me feel like I'm about to hallucinate or something. I don't like the heart racing and 'crazy' feeling I get from these things. So I avoid them if I can. Benedryl is the only med I've found that doesn't keep me wide awake.

    Everyone reacts differently to these sort of things, I guess it's important to know what you can handle and what keeps you 'clear' while sitting.

    Gassho to all,
    Kelly-Jinmei

  13. #13

    Re: caffeine and zazen.........again

    kelly -- i know the wired feeling, and usually avoid it -- but what makes me discontinue all daily caffeine is the more subtle effect: my mood changes -- i can be depressed, have 30mg of caffeine from a cup of green tea, and depression is gone -- i can struggle with my concentration for hours, 1 cup, and all solutions are clear(i have to work fast before its out of my blood stream)

    thats the part i don't care for -- for some reason i intuitively trust my "natural" state as complete, needing no additives -- i mean, why should it be necessary to change this consciousness? -- it is lacking something??? -- how can it be, when its all there is?

    anyway, thats what goes thru my mind -- and this only relates to the idea of a maintenance dose -- not occasional usage -- though most addicts i've known always initially believe they've got it under control -- thats what denial is all about, and denial is addictive in itself, even without chemicals -- they just make it sweeter -- until it bites back

    gassho, roky

  14. #14

    Re: caffeine and zazen.........again

    Hi Roky, If caffeine is a problem for you then not using it would be a good choice. It is a stimulant and everyone has a different tolerance level. If I feel overstimulated I find that deep breathing and/or light exercise (like walking or calisthetics) calms me down. As far as sitting, it probably does take me longer to settle down but who's counting? I might have a mild 'addiction' but I'm comfortable with that because I enjoy it. I like green, mint and fruit teas also.
    /Rich

  15. #15

    Re: caffeine and zazen.........again

    Hi all,

    And thanks Roky, for starting this thread.

    Well, I suppose I am a coffee addict. I will try to sit occasionally before my cup as an experiment, but (like this morning) I likely won't remember that intent until I am half-way through my cup... It is interesting to consider the thought of caffeine as a liability; for me it is a true pleasure and an opportunity to be in the moment. (Confession: I am a coffee geek - I roast my own green beans, and have alot of fun coffee paraphernalia)- this is the definition of attachment I suppose.

    Sitting without caffeine - I have done so in the deep dark past - is much more of a challenge. Perhaps that challenge is a good thing occasionally...

    m

  16. #16

    Re: caffeine and zazen.........again

    Quote Originally Posted by mark
    Hi all,

    And thanks Roky, for starting this thread.

    Well, I suppose I am a coffee addict. I will try to sit occasionally before my cup as an experiment, but (like this morning) I likely won't remember that intent until I am half-way through my cup... It is interesting to consider the thought of caffeine as a liability; for me it is a true pleasure and an opportunity to be in the moment. (Confession: I am a coffee geek - I roast my own green beans, and have alot of fun coffee paraphernalia)- this is the definition of attachment I suppose.

    Sitting without caffeine - I have done so in the deep dark past - is much more of a challenge. Perhaps that challenge is a good thing occasionally...

    m
    I buy my beans from the local roaster. Right now I have a bag of Sumatra - resonant, deep, fruit toned acidity, full body and rich, idiosyncratic bottom notes - as described on the label. I prefer the dark roasts for the smell and flavor and they have less cafeine. I'm actually sensitive to cafeine so I limit myself to one or two cups a day. But I can smell the beans anytime

  17. #17

    Re: caffeine and zazen.........again

    stop it guys -- i'm drooling all over myself

  18. #18

    Re: caffeine and zazen.........again

    Quote Originally Posted by roky
    stop it guys -- i'm drooling all over myself
    :lol: LOL

  19. #19

    Re: caffeine and zazen.........again

    and to muddy the waters even more: http://www.amazing-green-tea.com/green- ... feine.html

  20. #20

    Re: caffeine and zazen.........again

    Ahhh, tea... More confessions; not only am I a coffee geek, but tea in all of its variety and sublime taste profiles makes me happy too. Sometimes I use tea as a sort of coffee methadone, when I think I have been overdoing the coffee thing. But mostly I save it for those rare afternoons when I have time to savor it. I have also been known to put a little high grade matcha in my water bottle when I am working late.

    I enjoy all of the research suggesting that tea and or coffee is wonderful for you. I suspect though that the authors are all fellow-addicts...

    Well, having again forgotten to sit before coffee, I shall now go and sit. Oh and Rich; mmm Sumatra - one of the miracles of coffeedom - I will be roasting some tonight!

    m

  21. #21

    Re: caffeine and zazen.........again

    Hi Roky and everyone,

    When I sit in the morning it is usually before any tea (or coffee, when I used to drink it), and when I sit in the evening it is always caffeine-free. If I'm too caffeinated before zazen, my mind can be a bit too buzzy to settle down. Then it's just a case of saying "well, my mind was sure busy during that sit," and I move on.

    I am currently a tea-only imbiber. Usually a cup of green followed by a cup of strong black, with soy milk and stevia, which I am sipping as I type this. Oh, and when I was a coffee drinker, I do think I was addicted to it. Tea affects me differently - I don't get a caffeine headache if I skip it, whereas I did with coffee. We refer to coffee at my house as "the devil's brew." :twisted:

    Roky - I thought you might enjoy this from “The Book of Green Tea” by Diana Rosen.

    The first cup moistens my lip and throat, the second cup breaks my loneliness.
    The third cup searches my barren entrail to find therein some thousand volumes of odd ideographs.
    The fourth cup raises a slight perspiration, all the wrongs of life pass out through my pores.
    At the fifth cup I am purified.
    The sixth cup calls me to the realms of the immortals.
    The seventh cup, ah, but I could take no more.
    I only feel the breath of the cool wind that raises in my sleeves. Where is Elysium? Let me ride on this sweet breeze and waft away thither.
    ~Lu T’ung, “Tea Drinking”

    Gassho, Jikyo

  22. #22
    Senior Member Hogo's Avatar
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    Re: caffeine and zazen.........again

    I think the moral of this thread is that every one is different. As for me and sitting caffenie free, Bad move at least until I get myself cut back. I only tried for a day with zero coffee. Very stormy sit indeed, and like you used to Jean I get the nice headache if I skip it. I did try a second day on 1/2 calf that they now have in stores, not bad at all. I still got to drink my morning 4 8) and felt good. I too am a big tea fan, I think like with anything I will try to enjoy it all..... in moderation.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: caffeine and zazen.........again

    I don't want to get WAY to philosophical here... but isn't moderation also relative? One man's moderation is another man's addiction?

  24. #24

    Re: caffeine and zazen.........again

    Quote Originally Posted by Amelia
    I don't want to get WAY to philosophical here... but isn't moderation also relative? One man's moderation is another man's addiction?
    Yes, some can handle a glass of wine with dinner or a beer, and that is moderation.

    For some, any touch of alcohol is addiction.

    Though we are all the same, we are all different.

  25. #25

    Re: caffeine and zazen.........again

    thanks, Jikyo, for that wonderful excerpt -- and thanks also for everyone's feedback -- it really helps to know what others are experiencing, and particularly the interaction between formal practice and caffeine

    but one thing that i believe no one mentioned, including me, is the impact off the cushion on one's mindfulness -- a nice thing about mindfulness, is it can allow you to be less harmful to others -- specifically, when i am not zipping along, i find i can see that little gap better, the gap between an event and my reaction -- i am less likely to lose it and say something hurtful to another, i can see the initial gut response, and choose to not react verbally -- amazing :idea: -- with coffee, i have such lofty intentions, but the words are out of my mouth before i know it -- and for me, the difference in that gap is very slight, but just enough

    having said that, i do drink some green tea, genmaicha at present -- for those who do imbibe on a budget, check out "davidson's bulk tea" on amazon.com -- for my less developed tastes, this organic genmaicha is excellent, and only $11/lb -- and there are many other varieties of tea available from them, all organic -- but you must order though amazon, for some reason davidson's has the same products for a much higher price :?:

    enjoy -- mindfully -- or not

    gassho, roky

  26. #26

    Re: caffeine and zazen.........again

    I've been a coffee drinker for years as well as highly caffeinated soda's, etc, etc. Caffeine doesn't do anything for me as far as waking me up, or giving me a buzz. I can have (and often do) a triple shot of espresso right before going to bed at night and fall right asleep, in fact it helps me to get to sleep faster...and it's generally some of my deepest sleep.

    The reason for this I discovered is because I have ADHD, and stimulants affect me completely different. I've been self medicating with coffee all these years apparently, hehe. I often will meditate after work as my meds have kicked in at that point and I have much less mental chatter, or atleast I'm able to not get caught up in it as easily. I take 30mg of a time-released amphetamine (prescribed) once a day at lunch, so about 4-5 hours after that I'm feeling my best, and my head is much more clear.

    Long story short, I can meditate with and without caffeine or other stimulants, though I prefer it with. I'm not someone who can't function without my morning coffee. As I said, it doesn't wake me up, and I often get too distracted and end up not having time to make any. I have a harder time dragging myself out of bed, but once I'm up, I'm up and can function just fine. I figure that unless I want to be dependent on meds for the rest of my life I ought to work on facing my mental chatter and not getting caught up in it. Everyone has to work through this process, but it's definitely more of a challenge when your mind is like a pinball machine running at warp speed.

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