Dear Beautiful Human,
I’ve had a “thing” with coffee for quite a while now. By “thing” I mean a very strong mental/emotional attachment to my morning cup of coffee. While I went in and out with drinking coffee in my twenties. I wasn’t particularly attached to it and it didn’t really have a strong hold on me.
My dedication to coffee came later after becoming a parent. With the demands of parenting, lack of sleep, juggling work and the never ending to do list, coffee became my essential drug of choice. Without fail, coffee gave me the jolt of energy and inspiration I needed no matter how tired I was. And I think I was tired for about 10 years straight!
Looking back at when I first starting drinking coffee here and there, I was in high school. I wasn’t really drawn to it because I was tired, I was drawn to it because it changed how I felt. I was sad during that time with so much going on in my family and trying to navigate the world without a lot of guidance. When I drank coffee, it instantly lifted my mood. It had a big and positive emotional effect. Even then I was aware that it was a drug that worked really well.
I’ve known for a long time that it isn’t great for my constitution (vata/pitta). But I LOVE my morning cup of coffee. I slowly but surely created quite a strong attachment to needing that cup in the morning even when I could tell it was ultimately depleting me. I had it built up in my mind. When I started working with my Ayurvedic doctor 10 years ago, my number one fear was that she was going to tell me I had to stop drinking coffee (she didn’t).
This April I did my annual spring kitchari cleanse and I committed to getting off the coffee and staying open to the experience. Something shifted this time. I realized I had made the attachment to coffee a really big deal in my mind. But the truth was, it wasn’t that big of a deal at all. It didn’t really have the hold on me I thought it did. And then more insights came.
Yoga and Ayurveda are deep long-term practices that help us get better and better at life. The more we tune into ourselves and how we feel, the more we shed all things mismatched with our nature. I now realize that intertwined with coffee was a powerful habit of overriding my nervous system and constantly pushing into “go mode”. Coffee helped me do that but at the same time it was tapping my adrenals and leaving me more depleted. (Vata types tend to go into depletion mode because they try to go go go and keep up with all of their ideas. Plus, when fueled with some pitta that really wants to get it done, you end up with a drained and depleted vata nutcase).
The cleanse helped me see that my mind was making coffee more of a big deal than it was and time off of the coffee allowed me to see what negative habits it was supporting. Wow. I have been slowly moving away from all the habits that drive me into depletion mode and this is just another layer. I honestly haven’t craved coffee since I gave it up (April 24th).
It’s worth noting that coffee is considered bitter in Ayurveda. The bitter taste is aggravating for vata dosha especially on an empty stomach first thing in the morning. Pitta and Kapha both do well with the bitter taste. If I want to drink coffee a better way to take it is with milk (like a latte) and with or after food. It’s not just the food substance itself that can be detrimental to one’s constitution but also how it’s taken.
I am not saying I will never drink coffee again. I am also not judging you if you do, I totally get it. If coffee brings you joy, by all means partake! I am simply saying that by examining our addictions and mental attachments we can discover what is really helping us or harming us.
Anything can become addictive when used in the wrong way. It’s about our relationship to it. So, here’s my question for you? What are you really attached to right now? What is it that you think you cannot live without?
Whatever your answer is, consider asking yourself why and if it’s actually true….