Monday, August 8, 2011

Monday Visual Inspiration: A quiet moment with a cup of coffee

It seems weird that much of Western society "relaxes" with a caffeinated beverage. Eric Bogosian once joked about how no one relaxes with coffee--they actually spend a frantic amount of time trying to procure coffee so they can get home (or wherever) and drink it. In that light, the to-go cup may be the most appropriate invention for the enjoyment of coffee. If you're going to drink rocket fuel first thing in the morning, you might as well have a little rocket-shaped stainless steel cylinder to put it in so you can take it with you when you hit low-earth orbit.

However, the photo above was taken at The Eggshell, a brunch place in Cherry Creek North, when I was out with Mom a couple of weeks ago. Light was filtering down into the restaurant through the atrium of a shopping complex which The Eggshell abutted and leaked into a bit for Sunday seating. It was a nice little Zen moment--white paper on the table, off-white coffee mug, perfectly dark coffee, shiny silver spoons, and a Mom. It was a good reminder to be mindful of all the little moments in life that feed us and ask nothing of us, such as birdsong in the middle of a city or a kitteh turned upside down on a rug on the floor looking cute. It was these moments while hanging out with Mom in July that made me realize that I really did need to try cultivating a habit of daily meditation again. (Sarge, stop laughing--I can totally do this.)

And so, I've been practicing for the better part of a week now, usually in the mornings but occasionally in the evenings. I'm doing about ten minutes a morning at this point, right after my workout, which is a bit of a squeeze for me. Hopefully the promise of time for meditation will spur my lazy ass out of bed a little sooner in the morning in order to get that pause. See, the morning is generally a fast time for me--get up, workout for 40 or so minutes, cool down and stretch, then in the shower get dressed eat breakfast brush teeth do makeup run out the door. A ten-minute pause for meditation in the middle of that seems to be making a difference, maybe kinda almost. With the exception of sitting through a 2 1/2 hour meeting on Friday morning, I've been mostly calm at work. That's especially surprising given the pace of the Uber MOB project right now. I even had a moment where I was surprised and then worried that I wasn't nervous or worried about the deadline and workload (yes, I know...), but I think it's because I'm taking a few minutes each day to radically slow myself down.

Friday mornings I do yoga, and I'm up earlier than usual because I have to be at work before 8 to prepare for my Friday meetings. Because of the extra-early arising, I make coffee the night before and turn it on about halfway through my yoga practice. At the end of the practice, I have a few minutes to drink a cup and either look at my plants on the (five-stories-up) porch or yet again meditate. There again, I find myself in the situation of "relaxing" with a stimulant. And yet it makes sense: if you're looking for energy, why not calm energy? It feels good to pause long enough to enjoy the flavor of whatever you're consuming, so that you actually enjoy and savor its ingestion and to some extent digestion, and then breathe, and then look around and just observe everything.... I'm certainly affected by the caffeine, but not in a strung-out workaholic yuppie kind of way. I get to thank all the people and processes involved in making this coffee and bringing it to me by really sitting down and enjoying it. And being thankfully and blissfully quiet.


ms. kitty said...

I'm glad for you, Pixie; it sounds like you've added something lovely to your day.

Anonymous said...

Aww... ya caught me!


Miss Kitty said...

I'd never thought about that, but yeah, it's an oxymoron. "Relax" with a stimulant? Hmm.

Although it CAN be relaxing to finally have a nice bowel movement thanks to caffeine. Don't tell me nobody else has noticed what coffee does to the bowels. Seriously, I bet almost everyone on this planet feels more relaxed when they're not constipated. So yeah, I could certainly see where "relaxing with (or because of) a cup of coffee" became a saying.

I try to meditate in short bursts all day long, in little vignettes like you list: a kitteh turned over in the floor looking cute, or a chipmunk scurrying across the sidewalk in front of me, or how the clouds are moving across the sky, or just thinking about stuff that's right now (instead of next week). I'm glad meditation doesn't mean clearing one's mind, because that's nearly impossible, but that it's just about slowing down and observing one's mind.

And my word verification is hawlots, which I do NOT appreciate, Blogger Anti-Spam.