“Is the cup half full or half empty?”
For a long time I have been addicted to coffee. Three to four cups a day addicted. After struggling with many different methods of giving up and quitting the world’s most popular drug I realized that my basic training in meditation could be the solution. In this post I want to talk about how I am going quit coffee using some simple meditation techniques. If you feel like you are drinking too much coffee then read through this post and apply the techniques to your own life. The meditations are basic and anyone can do them.
Why Quit Coffee?
Coffee is full of caffeine and caffeine is a drug. Like any drug it is addictive and this addiction is a negative thing for the body and the mind. Why? Because it makes you want more. You get a nice wake up jolt from the first cup but after a few weeks one cup is not enough and you need two. Then the same thing happens and after a year of drinking coffee you are on 4+ cups per day. I think it is called escalation.
Many studies have been done on the effects of coffee. Some studies say that coffee is a good thing and that it has many health benefits. For example, one study showed that drinking coffee lowers your risk of getting bowel cancer. Other studies, however, have painted coffee in a negative light. It is difficult to trust these studies because there are so many and they seem to come up with a different result every time.
So what do you do? What is the answer?
As far as I am concerned the best thing to do with coffee is weigh up the pros and the cons. You look at all the positive aspects of drinking coffee and then put them next to the negative aspects and see which column is bigger. In my mind the negative is bigger than the positive.
The Cons of Coffee
Here are some negative aspects of drinking coffee:
- It is addictive: Anything that is addictive is bad for your mind. It makes you become a very dependent person because you feel like you cannot function without it. How many people do you know that have to have a morning coffee before they feel human? A lot.
- It leads to other negativities: The other thing about addictive substances is that they lead to other negative substances. For example, when you drink a lot of coffee you will undoubtedly have sugar in it and sooner or later you will probably want more sugar. Another thing that coffee drinkers do is have a snack with the coffee. The more coffees the more snacks you have.
- It is expensive: If you are like me and you buy your coffees from the local cafe or Starbucks then chances are you are spending a lot of money. Let’s assume you buy one coffee everyday and each coffee costs $3.00. In one year you will spend $1095 on lattes. Perhaps you drink more than one per day – after a while this adds up.
- It makes you anxious: If you take a look at this post on foods that make you stressed you will see that I think that coffee is one of the main things that we consume that makes us stressed and anxious. When we drink coffee it speeds up our mind and then we have a crushing low afterwards. This is the main reason why I want to quit coffee.
The Pros of Coffee
Just to be balanced I thought I would include a few reasons why drinking coffee is a good idea. Seeing as this is a post on how to quit coffee it might be a good idea to skip over this section if you are a real caffeine fiend.
- It might prevent cancer: One of the main things that coffee studies show is that drinking a cup of coffee everyday might reduce the risk of cancer. However, these studies are never definitive because nobody is really sure what causes cancer or what totally prevents it. Someone might have a cup of coffee everyday but that might have two sugars and cream in it. Does this help prevent cancer? If you are going to believe that coffee prevents cancer you had better be pretty sure the study is done well. Make sure you do the research. I, for one, am not convinced.
- It helps concentration: Coffee has been shown to increase concentration. We can see this for ourselves when we drink our coffee in the morning. It wakes us up and helps us start the day in a focussed way. However, recent studies have shown that this effect does not last long with people who drink a lot of coffee. Coffee’s ability to wake you up and help you concentrate is massively diminished if you drink it everyday.
My mind is very important to me. If I am addicted to something I lose some of my freedom and I become a slave to that thing. This is, therefore, the main reason why I want to quit coffee. I don’t want to have any such addiction in my life. I want to be master of my own mind.
How to Quit Coffee With Meditation
First things first. I need to make it clear that when I say “meditation” I do not mean the type of meditation where you sit down on a cushion, close your eyes and chant some oriental syllables. Nope. What I am talking about is the type of meditation that you can do in your everyday life. My ebook Enlightening Stress Relief is based around this type of practical, everyday, effective style of meditating. You can do it while you are sitting at your desk, walking to work or driving in the car.
The reason you can do this is because meditation is about training your mind. The Tibetan word for meditation is “gom” and this means “to familiarize”. The idea in Buddhist philosophy is that through meditation you can familiarize yourself with your true self, your inner goodness or your Buddha-Nature. Buddhist believe that the true nature of a living being is enlightened wisdom, not evilness. This gives us huge hope. And by meditating you can actualize this hidden potential.
It also works for quitting coffee!
You can apply meditation to many things in one’s life. There is a meditation technique for every problem and overcoming addictions is one of them. Here are some simple meditations that you can do if you want to give up coffee for good.
1. Meditate on Compassion
If you are addicted to coffee then chances are you are drinking more than a few cups per day. This is excess coffee and far more than you actually “need”. One way to combat this addiction is to meditate on compassion.
When I was younger my mother would always scold me for not finishing my dinner stating that there were children in Africa who didn’t get food for weeks. At the time I failed to see how me eating my dinner would help them but as I grew older I realized that, as she did many times, my mother was teaching me about compassion.
This is a great way to overcome the greediness of coffee addiction. The next time you feel like a hot cup think about all the people in the world who have nothing. Think about how many coffees you have per day and whether or not that is really necessary. I have found that by thinking about compassion (others) I actually reduce the cravings I have about satisfying myself. It is quite powerful.
2. Do a simple breathing meditation
Quite often our desire to drink coffee arises because we are stressed, anxious or tired. We think that coffee will make us feel better. However, you can bypass this need for coffee by dealing with the initial problems of stress, anxiety and tiredness. The way to do that is with a simple breathing meditation.
If you calm yourself down when you are stressed you will minimize the need for coffee. A coffee won’t seem as necessary if you are having a great day and your mind is light and happy. Breathing meditation can do this.
Next time you feel stressed simply close your eyes and gently bring your attention to your breath. Focus on the breath going in and out of your lungs and the feeling at the tip of your nose. Begin to count each breath mentally. Count up to ten complete inhalations and exhalations.
This will reduce your stress significantly. Once you do this you will feel much less likely to use caffeine to numb your anxiety. And the great thing about breathing meditation is that the effects last longer. You will not experience the low that comes after a cup of coffee.
Conclusion on Quitting Coffee
Quitting coffee is not easy. It is a drug. It is addictive. It is all of those things that make it hard. However, you have an advantage. You now know that you are master of your own mind. You mind does not control you – you control it. This means that when you decide to give up coffee you are going to accomplish it because you are in the drivers seat. The addiction is in your mind. So is the solution. Try these simple meditation techniques and see if they work for you.