Caffeine Cleanse


 I chose to cleanse my system of caffeine for 2 days.  The only caffeine I consume is in the form of coffee.  Morning of Day one, I was resentful – Why should I have to give this up?  I love my morning coffee!  It’s not that bad for me – I NEED it to get through my morning.  Once the morning was underway, I felt so calm at my desk.  I had a lot of work to do, but I didn’t feel anxious or excited about it.  I felt this sense of a rhythm and presence to my work.   I didn’t have my typical morning – peeing every 20 minutes, shaky, sweaty, burpy.  Clearly, I have been consuming more caffeine than my body can handle.  At the end of the day, driving home, I did not feel anxious behind the wheel.  I felt very pleasant.  It made me wonder why I have to be going 300 mph in order to do my job – as if I was somehow more productive.  In fact, it makes me more distracted and wanting to do 3 things at once. 


Thus, my initial morning of resentment, turned into a day of calm, ease & presence.  I loved it so much that I decided to forego caffeine for a second day!  I still “woke up”, and, again, I didn’t miss the anxiety, I felt much more able & willing to listen to people, and my thoughts weren’t as uncontrollable.


This morning I had a small cup of coffee and felt immediately cracked out – I became a complete chatterbox and felt compelled to anxiety.  I’m unsure of my relationship with coffee at this point – I still love the smell and the taste, but I am taking a good hard look at how it can invoke anxiety and an attention deficit.  Perhaps coffee becomes a treat, rather than a daily practice, so that I appreciate the power of this drug.


A Space Inside

Notice your space that you use for practice – what would help make this space more suitable for your intention in practice. If you have to practice somewhere else or change your practice time, how does that affect you?

I remember my first home practice, living in a small apartment in Minneapolis with a roommate. I had my own room, it was carpeted, and had just enough room for my mat. There was a long mirror, where I could check my alignment. I loved to listen to music while I practiced.

I always found a place for yoga where I have lived (or traveled) ever since living in Minne. Currently we have an extra bedroom, which has become an office/bike storage/guest bedroom/yoga room. Because of all the clutter i needed to make it more authentic for my practice time. I began using little statues and candles in a shrine-like formation when i set up for my practice time. I even did some candlelight meditation. It was a warming and calming way to start the practice. I no longer listen to music while I practice, but if I do, I prefer kirtan or instrumental..there are already enough voices in my head.

Practicing in diverse locations with lots of external stimuli allows me to quiet my thoughts more easily. I live on a busy street where there is constant noise from buses, motorcycles, cars, people, cats and dogs. Initially it is difficult to settle in, but eventually the sound becomes like the blurry edges of our peripheral vision. The sensation stimuli is there, but it is not a distraction nor a nuisance. Rather, it is helping me hear more clearly the stillness, calm and silence within.

With regard to the time for practice, I like to get a little practice throughout the day. Grazing, if you will. This is a recent phenomenon and has proven to be hugely beneficial. A little in the morning, a little at lunch and a little before dinner. It has helped me stay more calm and collected in a given day. Typically though, I am an evening or afternoon practitioner. I have had a Monday 6 pm practice for about 5 years, and if I do not practice at this day and time, I tend to feel a bit anxious. Not sure if it is because I’m missing yoga or if it is because it’s Monday…in any case I prefer a routine and consistency with my practice. But, I am willing to be flexible, if only to reap the reward of grazingly meditating.

Not Perfecting my Practice

Studying aparigraha, non-attachment or non-grasping, has been an ongoing experiment for several years. I say experiment because it is the most difficult action to undertake. I have attached to and grasped onto so much in my life – material goods, expectations of myself and others, emotions, coffee, marijuana, exercise – to take a hard look at them and assess them in these 2 weeks was overwhelming. To a point where I had to take a break for a couple of days because it was sending me into a tailspin. Detaching and letting go of these patterns and comforts I have known so intimately is a frightening endeavor. I felt at times like throwing in the towl on this whole idea.

Then Life happened, an argument with my mom/boss over a relatively minor work issue. I will spare you the boring details, but essentially I became a complete asshole. My Ego was challenged – I had made a mistake and my insecurity around failure flared up. I tried to create a boundary for myself by not answering my mom’s call at 7:30 pm regarding this issue – I’m not going to engage in work at home. However, because it is also my mom, I hurt her by screening her call. The next day when I was being an asshole, naturally, it made my mom become defensive and aggressive. This whole thing could have been avoided if I had just calming acknowledged my moment of neglect, without grasping onto this delusion that I am perfect and I will never make a mistake. Where in the hell was this wisdom in the moments when I was being awful to my mom?

Well, after a Friday lunch we had worked it out, acknowledging that we both have insecurities that were triggered in this spat. It actually created a stronger bond and more understanding. So, as much as I would have liked to have practiced my yamas to perfection, it’s just not reality. Life will inevitably happen and if we are aware we can hopefully avoid the worst; but we won’t avoid it all.

Naivete …?

Six or seven years ago i was told by a young, male business associate that I was too “naive” to be in business.  I disagreed vehemently.  At the time, I was pursuing a law degree, preparing to take over my Dad’s business.  The business associate knew my about my dad’s business operations and did not think I was capable of working in that environment.  He was partially right.  In reality, I’m a lover, not a fighter,  and professions in business and law can be notoriously adversarial.  This weekend’s subjects of moderation, letting go, and “Sexual Desire [as] the most powerful force in the universe”, were quite enlightening.   

The talk by Ajahn Amaro was so rich and, yes, Inspiring.  The mantra in my head all week: “The kind of thing you can do for those you love, is to not create them.”  Creating people is a tremendously exhausting habit and I am very much looking forward to practicing “letting go” of this effort.  Thanks to the Sunday night restorative with Tami, I have created a “legs up the wall” group at work.  Twice a day we are laying in an office with our legs up the wall for 5-10 min.  Maaaajor de-stressor.  

After every weekend, I feel like my heart is warmer, stronger, less broken, shining a bit brighter.  I am eternally grateful for having this spiritual journey in my life.  Even on nights where I think “I don’t have time for yoga or homework”, I remember the result of my practice: I’m a bit calmer and lighter.  Why can’t we make this a priority, like brushing our teeth?   “The resolute in yoga surrender results, and gain perfect peace; the irresolute, attached to results, are bound by everything they do.” Bhagavad Gita 5.12

 The friendships we are creating through this Teacher Training are life-long. By embarking on this journey, we are going through a transformation, whether small or large.  “Spiritual friendship is the whole of holy life” Buddha from Ajahn Amaro. I’m so appreciative for the freedom to be vulnerable, ugly, annoying, embarrassed, sad, joyful, fun, calm, and grateful.  It would be a snooze without the personality 😉

So, am I too naive to run with the Business folk?  I think the aggression and greed of Business needs a little letting go, calm and moderation.  And, I still don’t think I’m naive – I just happen to believe that you can have the best of both worlds.