Paul Latham

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Knocking on the Sky

So I gave up coffee this week as part of a little experiment.

The meditations have become deeper and more meaningful as an extension of the yoga practice but I’ve detected obstacles. I can sit and find a little cave in my mind and rest there for a moment or two, observing thoughts as they pass by the entrance the cave, trying not to judge. Just watching for as long as I can until I get lost in the stream again. It gets easier with practice and the time in the cave gets longer and longer and sometimes the thoughts zipping by actually slow down and every great once in a while . . . they stop. And that’s where it gets interesting. In the absence of thought is the magnification of the moment and that’s when harmony settles in and there is peace.

But getting to that sacred point takes all kinds of practice and, while I’m happy with my progress so far through the immersion course, I want the meditation side of things to be more focused and available. I want to capitalize on my success and move forward but to do so means pinpointing anything that’s in the way or detrimental to the process.

So we first need to analyze the process. And it should be stated that the experience of meditation can be very subjective. A person can be told exactly what to do and how to do it but as that person begins the practice, her experience will be her own and I think that’s why so many get frustrated and quit. People like rules and structure and they want to know exactly what’s going to happen and what to expect and how to gauge success. This gets tricky since the gauge of success in this instance has more to do with what you are not doing as opposed to what you are doing right. Another source of frustration is that some who would write books on the subject get locked into the idea that their way is the only way and so when someone tries their way and fails, they assume they will never succeed and give up all together.

So the key is to take everything with a proverbial grain of salt and experiment. Read books, watch videos, listen to cd’s or, better yet, just do it and find your own way.

So back to analyzing the practice.  For me, that means sitting or lying in a quiet place and breathing.  Most of the time I use ujjayi which calms the mind and fuels the system or I might use a rhythmic breath for a more structured approach. Depending on the day, the mood, the moon and so on, I should be in a relaxed state of mind in a few minutes.  Then I try to sink my awareness inward and sit. Thoughts still rush by but I try to observe as opposed to participating. Usually, the more I breath, the more I observe, the slower the thoughts become until I can listen to something else. The thoughts almost become background noise that can be ignored.

Now all of this is on a good day, usually after a heavy yoga session at the studio and before the worries of the world come crashing back down. There is the cadence of the breath and an inner awareness of worked muscles and open spaces. On a not so good day I might not get past just slowing the thoughts down for a little while and following the breath. That’s ok though. I know that my blood pressure has dropped at the very least and that’s worth the practice in itself.

But let’s assume a good day. Thoughts are slowing down and I can listen. I might check in on the chakras but for the most part, I just observe. But what is that in the background? It’s not a thought really or a song. It’s just static, like a old tv tuned to a dead channel. Interference really.

And what could be causing that? Well, caffeine is the primary suspect at this point and I didn’t even have to think that hard to come to that conclusion.  My normal intake is about two cups of coffee in the morning, tea for lunch, either coffee or (gasp!) an energy drink in the afternoon and then tea for dinner. Sometimes a lot of tea for dinner. So my intake is high and I’m almost certain it’s the source the static.  But let’s experiment and find out for sure.

So for this week, no coffee and we are switching to green tea. Next week i may try giving up the green tea if this produces the desired effect even though there is a remarkable difference between the caffeine’s of green tea, black tea and coffee. Case in point, I drank one cup of green tea yesterday morning instead of my normal two cups of coffee and I swear reality still dropped into low gear. Time actually appeared to be moving at a completely different rate sans coffee. It was actually pretty fascinating and pretty annoying.  Mid-afternoon is a nightmare of sluggishness and slow thinking. I also noticed a lack of balance in the yoga practice last night but then I remembered kapalabhati which is an energizing breath and after a few rounds I felt pretty normal.

I also noticed an increase in dream time while I was sleeping last night which is very interesting but makes sense. But that could be psychosomatic.

So this morning began with more kapalabhati and green tea and reality still seems downshifted but some of the sluggishness is already lifting. I had an intermediate yoga class tonight that left me pretty wrung out (in a good way) and I think moved me even further into detox than I was.

I’ll meditate tonight and report back tomorrow but I’m amazed as the difference already.

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