Today I’ve been four and a half days without caffeine. I feel tired and a bit dizzy, but not abnormally tired. I definitely don’t have splitting headaches from withdrawals. Nor have I had a mood crash.
What happened was this. I got sick the Wednesday before Memorial Day weekend, jacked myself up on black and green tea to make it through Wednesday and Thursday, drank green tea on Friday, then no tea on Saturday. I must have spent half of the long weekend asleep and possibly slept through any withdrawals I would have had which I wouldn’t have felt anyway because I don’t feel anything when I’m sick. No caffeine allowed my body to rest and recover uninhibited.
I’ve decided to continue abstaining from caffeine in tea form. At least for now. Why I’m doing this is because I’ve been noticing that I’ve been drinking much more lately. My one cup in the morning has turned to a luke-warm mug chugged in the morning, then two or three more cups of black tea throughout the work day. I’ve also noticed that I get really sad and really tired in between mugs and on days when I haven’t had any.
Back when I quit coffee, I noticed similar things. Erradic sleep, energy spikes and devastating crashes, mood swings, and I was just always getting angry! I quit coffee and began drinking tea and my sleep became consistent, my energy leveled out, and my anger outbursts became few and easier to control.
I’m sure those regions of my body most susceptible to carcinogens appreciated my decision as well.
I bring all this up as an excuse to talk about mindfulness. In this case, mindfulness means being aware of my body, aware of my moods, aware of how body and mood inter-affect and are affected by what I consume.
The point of bringing up mindfulness is to say that if we have problems, we can figure out what’s wrong and we can make changes. Sometimes extremely difficult challenges can have profoundly simple solutions that we can find if we would only but look for them.
My story about my relationships with coffee and tea is a benign example. In other stories, we could look at the effects of overeating, of eating meat, of drinking milk, of drinking alcohol, of using other mood and mind altering chemicals. We could look at other behaviors that put us in an altered or extreme state of mind and maybe cause us problems. Behaviors like impulse shopping, gambling, pornography and other sexual behaviors, the kind and amount of television we watch, the kind and amount of music we listen to, the friends we keep or keep at arm’s length.
Or we could explore issues from the other direction. Are you depressed? Anxious? Always tired? Getting into lots of fights? Going broke? Getting sick? Getting fat? Could be the reason is some behavior in your life or something you consume; things that can be changed.
I am oversimplifying the problem-change dynamic. A little. I’m also not dwelling here on the foundational spiritual component that exists in all problems. Realistically, if the spiritual component is ignored, no real change is possible.
But although our problems are ultimately spiritual in nature, solutions are often highly practical in nature, and this is what I want to say here.
Simple solutions exist for many problems. Often these simple solutions are lifestyle oriented and can be implemented with only moderate expense and some help from friends.
Simple solutions and the nature of problems can be understood by someone who is self-aware, and this is why mindfulness is important. Mindfulness is the discipline of paying attention to yourself, who you are, what you’re feeling, what you’re doing, how all the parts of you are affecting all the other parts and how you’re affecting your environment. It’s the art of paying attention, of quieting yourself and listening for the still small voice.
Our opportunity as Humans and spiritual beings is to grab a cup of tea, or maybe water, turn off the noise and tune into who we are and how God is whispering to us in the moment. Could be we’ll find a solution to a problem. Or at least, we won’t miss out on the present moment.