One of my favorite 'mugs.' It's ceramic! Bought in East Vilage.
Although I wasn't a coffee drinker until I moved to New York City, once I started drinking it, that was it (as it is for most who start a coffee habit). Don't get me wrong, I wasn't caffeine-free in life up to that point--drinking coffee was actually a healthy change for me at that time, as I gave up my Diet Coke (eek!) addiction and replaced it with coffee. Yes, ask anyone who knew me in college and they well tell you that I drank buckets-full of Diet Coke each day...honestly, moderation wasn't in my vocabulary then. So, yes, coffee was a good change for me, and luckily, I only drank it with a bit of skim milk (no sweeteners or sugar, which helps!), but I still began to drink too much. And even though I don't think coffee is "bad" for you, too much of a good thing (or of anything, for that matter), can be a bad thing.
It wasn't until I went through my yoga teacher training that I began to think about my coffee consumption. One of my fellow teacher trainees went to an Ayurvedic consultation and was told that due to her more nervous/high-strung personality, coffee probably wasn't to best thing for her to be drinking for her constitution. So, she simply stopped drinking coffee. She weaned herself off the stuff over a week or so, and then she was done. Wow! So easy! So I decided to follow suit--I, too, have a nervous, anxiety-prone personality, and thought it was definitely the right thing to do.
For me, quitting coffee was not quite AS easy. But, by following her detox method (slowly drinking less and less each day), I eventually came off of my coffee addiction. Once I got through the caffeine withdrawal, I realized that so much of what I liked about coffee was the ritual of drinking it. I love routines, rituals, things I can count on daily, and giving up coffee felt like giving up a comforting morning ritual. I mourned this ritual, and embraced my tall glass of ice water in the mornings, or if I was feeling particularly festive, a cup of tea.
See how much I loved coffee? A painting I did in NYC in 2009.
Interestingly enough, I believe giving up coffee was a great move for my body/overall mental state. I am much calmer throughout the day--the revved-up, have-to-get-everything-done-in-the-next-5-minutes feeling that I used to get around 9/10am is gone--and I'm able to move a bit more slowly (SO important). Similarly, now if I'm truly craving coffee--the taste, the warmth, the smell, the "awakeness" that it provides--I can have a tiny serving (about 3/4 cup with a splash of milk!) and I'm happy. Such little coffee now makes such a tangible difference in my body, that a very small amount is all it takes. In fact, in honor of this post, I'm having my first (small) cup of coffee in about 2 months today. And I'm TRULY enjoying it! Savoring the flavor and feeling gratitude for the simple things in life. Ahhhhh, so nice :) By giving up my daily coffee consumption, it has now become a simple joy that I can treat myself to every once in a while.
My challenge to you: think about your daily rituals...what's something in your life that you OD on? How can you moderate or cut back on this behavior? By doing so, you may turn this behavior into a simple joy when you're able to treat yourself by indulging. Think about it!
Namaste (in an excited voice, since I've had a bit of caffeine)!
PS. Check back later today for a Thursday painting update!