Sitting and Breathing: Day 24

I got home from work around 6am this morning, walked and fed my dog, had some concentrated petting time so he knows I love him, then passed out. I woke up at 2:30 this afternoon (also 10:30am to feed him and take him out again), and in order to make it to work by 6pm, I need to leave the house around 4:45pm (a bus and two trains, and a little bit of time buffer to account for how temperamental public transit can be). After showering and getting dressed for work, I took him on a 30 minute walk, and handled some finance nonsense.

Given that this is my schedule much of the time, I feel like I am usually in a sort of waking dream state. I also feel like I don’t have a whole lot of me time, no less time to read instructions and meditate. So today I decided to break away from the guided meditation laid out in my book, and do a little mindfulness session of my own making.

There’s a little hipster coffee shop right next to the station where I catch the train, and I’m a big fan of it. The coffee is artisanal, the food is clearly made with a passion, and the staff is always friendly, but my favorite part about it is the atmosphere created by whatever interior designer that these folks had the good sense to employ.

All of the light fixtures are the kind I chose for my bedroom – modern LED lights made to look antique that give off a soft, yellow light that’s even pleasing to look at directly. Tens of them hang from the ceilings on long wires, and some are arranged in two fan-like sculptures with long bulbs that have helical innards.

The wall opposite the coffee bar is lined with a fake ivy, giving it a natural and calming feel. The tables are all dark wood, and they’re fit tightly (but not too tightly) in the small space so even when you sit by yourself, you feel like you’re in a small community.

The bar itself is tiled along the bottom in a way reminiscent of the mosques-turned-cathedrals-or-palaces that dot southern Spain (and other places, but I’ve seen those ones, so that’s what they remind me of). The ornate patterns are supposed to replicate the are starry skies, and were used as meditative inspirations by their designers and whoever hired those designers. Along the top is a two-foot wall of glass, and a lineup of small indoor plants blocking the pipes and wires of all the coffee-making machines.

I ordered a little loaf of bread with feta cheese, tomato, and egg, and a cold brew coffee. I sat at a table at the back of the dining area that looked out at the other guests and the street beyond (interestingly, this is the same spot I sat in last time I was there, and it was the only spot open that time, too). I shed my many layers of winter clothing, set down my backpack, read a little of Real Happiness, then just focused on being there.

I set my fork down between bites. I chewed with awareness of the texture of the bread and sesame seeds along its top. I sipped my coffee, then set it down and closed my eyes, swishing it around I’m my mouth. If I breathed out while chewing on the bread, I got delightful coffee aromas to mix with the savory flavors of the bread.

Occasionally my mind drifted to the other things going on in my life. Occasionally I thought about how cute the young women were in there, some studying, some chatting amongst themselves, the younger ones snapping pictures and giggling loudly. Occasionally I thought about how weird I must look with my hands on my knees, chewing with my eyes closed. But mainly, I was calm, I was relaxed, and I was present, and it was beautiful.

Snap! I finished writing this RIGHT as I arrived at my stop for work. How cool is that shit?

Sitting and Breathing: Day 12

“Good day, and welcome to Day Twelve.” – Dough McKenzie, 12 Days of Christmas

Drinking Tea Meditation. Generally speaking, I do not drink tea. Specifically speaking, I did not drink tea today. I went with Drinking Coffee Meditation instead, and I must say, I quite enjoyed it.

I found it much easier to concentrate on the present moment by honing in on minute details in everything I was doing. I cleaned out the morning’s round of coffee grounds from my reusable filter using the spray nozzle in my sink. I felt the warmth of the water against my skin. I felt the small bits of coffee bean against my finger tips. I noticed the pattern the water made as it spun in circles in the (I’m not sure what the name for it is, but it’s the cup that you put the filters into – I refuse to Google it). Then I slowly and intentionally reinserted each of the newly cleaned pieces back in their places.

I opened the bag and smelled the grounds. I actually do this every morning. It is a beautiful moment of being centered by the sensation of the inhale combined with the olfactory fireworks the ground coffee beans create. For the sake of turning the Intention dial up to 11, I stuck my nose in the bag an extra three or four times, noting the subtle differences in burnt and earthy undertones. When I pulled the bag away from my face, I noted how I found the yellow color of the bag soothing, and the blue color of the small strip with the word “Sweden” on it was equally calming and easy on the eyes.

I stepped to the fridge to grab my recently-purchased handheld Britta filter, and poured it into the back of my coffee maker. I saw the glint of the water as it left the spout. I hit the on button and felt and heard the click, and saw the green light that I associate with good things on the horizon (moving forward in traffic, a card being approved, coffee being made, etc.).

My dog barked at the neighbors entering or exiting their apartment, but I just walked silently to a point where I could make eye contact with him. When he saw me, we locked eyes and he stopped barking and put his head down. We gazed at each other motionless for a few seconds, then I returned to the coffee.

My machine is a little janky because I bought a reusable filter because ya know… the environment and stuff… But it doesn’t really fit into the machine, so the lid doesn’t close all the way. For today, though, that was convenient. I got to watch the water slowly trickle out of whatever heats it up, and land on the grounds. I saw the water collect, and I watched the ever-changing arrangement of bubbles on the water’s surface. I closed my eyes and listened to the loud, almost violent expulsion of water into the filter and the thing with the name I don’t know, juxtaposed by the soft trickle of the just-recently-coffee into the pot.

Once it was done, I poured the coffee into the mug as slowly as I could imagine. The sound reminded me of standing next to a creek on a much sunnier day than today. I lifted the mug to my face and took in a few deep breaths. Each step in the process made the aroma sweeter and smoother.

I took a sip, slurping loudly because it’s fun, and closed my eyes so I could focus on the sensations of the hot liquid hitting my tongue (lol). I felt the warmth travel down my esophagus, hit my center, and radiate out to my extremities. I realized I was being a crazy person holding the mug by the handle, and switched it up so I had my hands pressed against the sides to enjoy the tactile heat. After a few sips I brought myself out of meditation, and started writing this.

Weird side note: I could see a dude in a window across the alley from me until just now. Maybe he was also blogging. Or she. I don’t know how they identify.

Anyway, I feel good after today’s session. I’m spending a lot more time throughout my day being mindful of any given moment, and it’s paying off in terms of my mood. I’m excited to up the ante again in Week Three.

Until then, boy that was a lot of words about making and drinking coffee, huh? And take off, hosers.