Conscious Coffee – A Simple Morning Ritual That Opens the Whole Day

I don’t know if the Buddha drank coffee.  I like to think that he did.  He would have taken it black, nothing added to the bare experience.

Some mornings, I take the time to pause and enjoy my coffee as bare experience.  I feel the weight and warmth of the cup, I savor the subtle aromas rising in the steam, I take a breath of air with the first hot sip and as it warms my throat and chest, I sense a gentle satisfaction flowing through my body.  Then I pause again to look up from my cup and the world seems grounded and fresh. 

But there are also many mornings when I treat my beautiful cup of morning glory as just another habit, something I do while reading or eating, caught in the rushing auto-pilot of the day.  On those mornings, I’m a little bit unconscious and I am missing out.

What makes the difference?  It comes down to how I place my attention. 

My attention is often running on its own, drawn to whatever thought or image is fleeting across my awareness, like movie clips running with no one at the projector.  But if I deliberately place my attention with intent (for example, on my coffee) the world changes.

My perceptions change, expanding to take in a wider world.  The furniture around me, the table setting, window light falling on the far wall, all have more weight and texture.  I appreciate the value in their simple being that I had been blind to a moment ago.

My inner state changes, feeling emotions and energies I did not know were there.  My breath and body become vibrant instead of forgotten.  A gentle current of awareness invites me to relax and welcome whatever sensations are here.

My relationships change, as I engage the people around me with greater depth.  I am with my wife more fully, seeing past her familiarity to sense her incomprehensible complexity.  I intuit her mood and inner state.  I feel more alive and present to her.

These changes can arrive when I leave the thought-world that is my predominant mode of operation.  In thought-world, I am in my head, filling my awareness with continuous loops, thinking thoughts I have cycled through many times before.  The thought loops provide a kind of comfort because they are familiar, but they fence me off from the freshness of what is actually here.

If I remember to pay attention to how I pay attention, I have a fighting chance of exiting thought-world and opening my eyes to the fullness of things just as they are, everything present for its own sake without need of definition or evaluation.  The immediacy itself comes alive.  Conscious coffee helps me enter the world of bare experience that is always available but often ignored.

How we start the morning sets the rudder for everything that follows. Coffee as a morning ritual can create strong associations in our patterns of behavior.  Why not use that to our advantage and create a mindful habit that supports our inner being? 

It doesn’t take long.  Take a moment with your first cup and let your attention rest just on the coffee and you and the morning light.  Let the coffee fill your awareness for a short bit and see if everything else doesn’t open up as well. 

Don’t drink coffee?  Actually, I’m pretty sure the Buddha didn’t either.  Coffee wasn’t cultivated until centuries after he was gone.  No matter.  You can start your day with a conscious cup of tea or cool water.  But for me, it’s coffee.  I like to imagine me and the Buddha drinking coffee together.  No conversation, just sitting and sipping, grounded and aware.

And he would have smiled, a faint lift showing at the corners of his mouth.  I’m sure of that.

Photo by Alex Padurariu on Unsplash

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