March 30, 2009

Day 36 Big Sit Meditation Tip: Coffee

A little groggy, Bodhidharma, the first Zen patriarch, cut off his eyelids to stay awake. He tossed them aside and legend has it tea leaves blossomed at the very spot they landed. We don't suggest you try this in your garden at home but tea does work wonders, and meditators have drunk it for centuries to stay awake. You can drink coffee, too, says Peter Doobinin of New York's Downtown Meditation Community, who told Tricycle:

Some people say that it was actually Buddhist monks who discovered coffee. The story goes that they were wandering around in the forest somewhere when they came across the beans. They started chewing them and thought, "These are great. We can use this energy for our meditation practice."

If you are going to get up in the morning and sit, it doesn't have to be first thing. Get up and have a cup of coffee if it helps. It's when you start taking out the newspaper and doing other stuff that you lose the freshness of mind you have when you first wake up. But if you can have coffee without turning on your cell phone, go for it.

Coffee first appeared in the highlands of Ethiopia in the 9th century. But it's a good story anyway.

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Rebecca's picture

Yes, I too, have a cup of coffee, sometimes two, before I sit. I like tea, but it doesn't have the effect on me that coffee does. I want to be physically fully awake when I sit and I don't believe it matters whether it's coffee or tea that I use for that purpose. A little caffeine is a good thing.

yoshizen's picture

The book about the coffee (in Japan) described
the mythical "Sultana coffee" which is green etc.
Many years later when I visited Saudi-Arabia, I was
offered a greenish drink. I thought it is a tea, then
I realized it is a coffee. Eureka !
Roasting coffee was the Italian invention.
In the Arabic country where it is closed to the origin
people drink it in original style.
It was not mythical at all. Simply we just didn't know.

Andrew's picture

I like to use coffee sometimes too. However, it occasionally gives me the sensation (during zazen) that my heart is racing, which can be unsettling. If you are an avid coffee drinker I wouldn't worry about it, but if you don't drink it much I would be cautious of this side effect.

Scott's picture

I've made this same discovery as well. Many seem to have judgements that tea is more natural, but I usually do coffee.