Some question are unavoidable on the road to Spring Mind, and one of the simplest ones (we’ll just ease into this, shall we?) is whether you should be meditating. It seems like everyone swears by it these days, not just hippies and yoga teachers, but CEOs and very serious scientists. According to Harvard Business Review, meditation builds resilience, boosts emotional intelligence, enhances creativity, improves your relationships and helps you focus. A new study from Carnegie Mellon University shows that mindfulness increases functional connectivity in the brain and reduces inflammation. I mean, what’s not to like – we should be all over this, right? Don’t worry if you’re feeling contrarian today though (it is spring…), you can always look to Wharton professor (and bestselling author) Adam Grant and his anti-meditation manifesto.
But say you do want to meditate – this stuff is not easy! I decided I wanted to meditate about seven years ago and I still haven’t been able to set up a regular practice. I’ve read books, listened to guided meditations, took 21-day meditation challenges (and found I was an expert at reciting a mantra in my head and at the same time worry about anything and everything)…and then I realised that if this was ever going to work, it had to work for me, so I was going to have to adapt what I was reading quite a bit. And since new habits are best formed when you tack them onto existing habits, I decided that my meditation practice was going to be hot and steamy – and preferably served in a sky-blue cup.
You think I’m kidding, but I’m dead serious – having this cup of coffee is usually the most mindful thing I do all day, and I dare you to give it a try (even if you’re Adam Grant. Come on, Adam, what’s the worst thing that could happen? Do it with good coffee though, a tragic side effect of mindfulness is that it makes bad coffee worse).
So here’s how this works. First, remember that the person making the coffee is human (and probably a very cool human too) – make eye contact, smile, say thank you, leave a tip. (This meditation pre-supposes a cafe environment, but please feel free to adapt to your own situation. Best to go with a real cup or mug, rather than paper, but hey, whatever works for you)
Then, pause. Please, please put that phone on silent. Engage all your senses. Place the cup down and look at just how beautiful your coffee is (yes, the blue cup really helps, but all coffee is beautiful if you look at it right). Try a couple of different angles so you can really appreciate it.
Carefully wrap your hands around the cup and enjoy its warmth. Inhale deeply and feel the aroma (funny how it’s slightly different today, don’t you think?). You may want (or be forced by your very dedicated barista) to stir your coffee before you taste it – feel the weight of the teaspoon in your hand. Then, take your first sip. Oh. My. God. Doesn’t that feel just heavenly? Sit back and breathe. Listen to the sounds around you – the hissing of the espresso machine, the chatter, the cars outside – and just let them pass you by. Have another sip. If you have a window near you, take a look at the sky. (If not, take a corner of mine, it’s just below) Look at your cup again and notice the intricate patterns that the coffee left behind.
Repeat, smile, enjoy. Then turn your phone back on if you must, be on your way, and come back as often as you need (in an emergency, do listen to this other alternative meditation, but please use headphones. Got it? Headphones. Trust me on that one.)
Copyright: kudryashka / 123RF Stock Photo
No filter (no idea how to use them!) photos taken by yours truly on my phone. Miraculous, heart-warming, insanely photogenic coffee made by Dani @ Steam. (Not in Bucharest? Let me know what your favourite coffee meditation place is. Oh, and Bernie says you have slow internet – we feel for you.)
P.S. I’m currently experimenting with Headspace (thanks, Madalina!) and they might manage to turn me into a meditator, I’ll keep you posted.