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Poll: Caffeine or not?

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Poll: Caffeine or not?
Answer
12/29/12 3:10 AM
I can't be choosy as to when I meditate since I have a toddler at home and rarely have time to get extra sleep before I meditate. I usually compensate this with caffeine in the form of coffee or pills just before the session. What are your experiences from this artificially increased wakefulness when it comes to clarity, efficiency/results, etc, in the short and long term?

RE: Poll: Caffeine or not?
Answer
12/29/12 3:30 AM as a reply to mind less.
Caffeine seems to be OK with vipassana. Monks are using tea to stay awake but aren't supposed to drink any after noon (that might varies from one place to another).

It really depends on the stage you are in, I think. I'm not too sure about the early stages. Probably caffeine doesn't hurt before the dark night. In the A&P, someone should get to a point when there is enough natural energy to not requires caffeine.

My intake of caffeine increased in the dark night to keep functioning at work. There is no amount of caffeine that would make a difference in dissolution. It seems that some tension is required for caffeine to do its work. The same thing go for the drop-out phase in equanimity. I ended up loading myself with redbull during that phase on a retreat, not aware it wasn't true tiredness but more a side-effect of a peculiar relaxation pattern.

Many stages in the dark night are about relaxation. If you take too much caffeine, you might end up creating more tension that you can dissolve. Still, a reasonable amount can highlight those tension just enough to get aware of them and relax them.

You should also consider how caffeine impact your sleep. Tension during sleep can make you loose all the progress you made during the day.

Finally, I also have experience with amphetamine and ritalin and I now consider those to be a big no-no on the path. The create a kind of non-mindful focus that prevent progress.

RE: Poll: Caffeine or not?
Answer
12/29/12 10:38 AM as a reply to mind less.
Morgan Gunnarsson:
I can't be choosy as to when I meditate since I have a toddler at home and rarely have time to get extra sleep before I meditate. I usually compensate this with caffeine in the form of coffee or pills just before the session. What are your experiences from this artificially increased wakefulness when it comes to clarity, efficiency/results, etc, in the short and long term?


The amount of caffeine I've consumed - either in the form of coffee or pills - while doing this practice could probably be described as "otherworldly".

In order to meditate, you need to have tranquility and energy in balance. In general, I find it easier to bring tranquility to a highly energetic (caffeinated) mind than to bring energy to a tired, sleepy, torpid mind. So I like to meditate in the morning, about an hour after taking caffeine.

I stop all caffeine consumption six hours before bedtime. Actually, it's rare that I consume it after 12pm. I'm anal retentive when it comes to sleep. :-)

RE: Poll: Caffeine or not?
Answer
12/29/12 10:38 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
I have sort of a love hate relationship with coffee, whereas other caffeinated drinks seem to work ok for me in small doses. Actual coffee can have all kinds of euphoric and negative effects on my mood and body. I treat it like a recreational drug.

For me, a little green tea or mate is just right before a sit if I know I'm going to get groggy. Everyone reacts differently to these things.

RE: Poll: Caffeine or not?
Answer
12/29/12 11:00 AM as a reply to Some Guy.
I meditate in the morning after consuming a couple cups of coffee, and then I meditate in the middle of the night [1 or 2 or sometimes 3am] quite often after pounding an energy drink like Rockstar [sugar free] or Monster. I've found that the caffeine helps enormously. Slugishness or tiredness is a great enemy of the meditator. Assuming you don't react badly to caffeine or whatever, coffee or energy drinks or tea can be a fantastically helpful tool, especially for the meditator sitting at "odd" hours [middle of the night, early mornings, etc.]

RE: Poll: Caffeine or not?
Answer
12/29/12 1:12 PM as a reply to mind less.
Coffee, ftw!

Gives you a nice kick of energy - annnnd you can actually start ramping up your mindfulness/alertness while drinking your cup o' joe by paying attention to stuff like the color/look of it, taste, heat/tactile stuff, aroma, sound of drinking, and how the mind seems to process all that.

RE: Poll: Caffeine or not?
Answer
12/29/12 4:03 PM as a reply to mind less.
I like Kenneth's sentiment from this thread: caffeine and meditation

Kenneth Folk:
Coffee is wonderful. Life is hard. There is no need to wear a hair shirt.


Lots of other interesting posts in that old thread as well.

And of course, being mindful of drinking coffee is good practice. This can be abstaining from coffee and watching the results, or otherwise modifying coffee drinking behavior; drinking and enjoying it and remembering the fact of drinking and enjoying it, and other ways to experiment with it.

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Poll: Caffeine or not?
Answer
12/29/12 4:57 PM as a reply to Florian.
I for sure attribute a period of significant progress to quitting caffeine for a few months. The ensuing tranquility and evened out energy wave was like an automatic upgrade in concentration, jhanas, insight, everything. I love coffee, but it can be a crutch, an addiction, and a hindrance, so once in a while I like to stop. Plus, a neurologist who claims to be an expert on caffeine and its effects says that when you're on the caffeine treadmill, drinking it only alleviates the symptoms of withdrawal and doesn't actually give you a boost any longer.

RE: Poll: Caffeine or not?
Answer
12/29/12 10:51 PM as a reply to mind less.
I think coffee is great. I often get coffee before I hit the practice rooms at my school. Can I consistently practice at the energy level that coffee offers? No. After all those sessions, when I'm completely sober, can I play all the notes that my practice added up to? Yes. I think insight is similar.


It doesn't matter if you're feeling shitty, great, high energy, low energy, enlightened or not. If you hit the A&P on vipassana, lucid dreaming practice, daydreaming, death contemplation, or LSD, you'll probably experience cycling through DN stuff to some extent, even if the moment it happened was a different context. I believe a similar thing applies to any insight stage, with any substance. If you can get to the stage of insight through concentration and investigate the 3 c's, you'll make progress, and getting paths is just a matter of getting ever more inclusive and precise with this technique. At least, that's my understanding of it at this point. This isn't just a cop out excuse for using any substance and claiming that insight can happen regardless of sobriety. I'd imagine that alcohol would make it hard to get a lot out of practice.

I like to drink coffee before doing vipassana. Coffee seems to make everything I'm doing more interesting and visceral, and I find that effect to be very useful for bringing a lot of energy to practice while still remaining curious.

EndInSight claims to have gotten 1st and 2nd path quickly using a practice formula involving a large amount of caffeine.

Substances can be really taboo, but I'm very interested in how substances and practice could come together. Call me a typical hippie/teen/musician/whatever, but I think there's a lot of "enlightening" potential in substance use. In the last month, I've used marijuana, coffee, and LSD, and I've been able to access all (edit: the first) 4 jhanas and basically nanas 1-11 while under the influence of any one of those. I was smoking marijuana the day I got stream entry. I'm not a regular user of anything besides caffeine, and I don't claim that drugs can singlehandedly unlock new territory or offer a huge advantage in practice.

Interesting though: in going through the nanas, our experience changes so rapidly and dramatically. Is there some reason that heavily "altering our state", "altering our perspective", or altering our perception of sensations in this way can lead to enlightenment? How does coffee play into your perception of sensations?

I realize that this post probably goes a little bit farther than what you were asking for, but I figured I would write out what came to mind. You also inspired me to write this goofy thread.

RE: Poll: Caffeine or not?
Answer
12/30/12 12:05 PM as a reply to mind less.
I prefer to sleep than meditate if sleep is what I need.

RE: Poll: Caffeine or not?
Answer
12/30/12 4:58 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Caffeine is a no go here...even green tea. Manic episodes are no fun, and sleep is nice.

RE: Poll: Caffeine or not?
Answer
12/31/12 10:44 AM as a reply to mind less.
If I'm starting to drift during a sit I'll take a 15-20 minute power nap and that usually does the job.

Also look into matcha green tea. It's been used by Zen Monks in Japan for 900 years and seems to work for them. Recently it has become popular with students there too.

Green tea containes L-theanine which calms the mind and aids concentration. It also contains catechins, to which caffeine molecules bind, resulting in a steady release and reducing the jittery effect some may experience from other sources of caffeine.

Check this out for more info.

RE: Poll: Caffeine or not?
Answer
12/31/12 12:46 PM as a reply to mind less.
My typical coffee drinking habit for years has been a cup in the morning when I get up and usually another sometime mid afternoon or after lunch. I didn't change that when I started meditating. Didn't notice it was beneficial or a hindrance, not something I thought about, really. I still follow the same pattern. A very few times I've not had coffee in the morning because I was fasting or at a retreat where they offered tea instead, and it didn't seem particularly important.

I suppose if it seems to be important and is on your mind one way or the other, those thoughts in themselves are useful to pay attention to.

RE: Poll: Caffeine or not?
Answer
12/31/12 12:51 PM as a reply to mind less.
A microdose of delysid is more effective in promoting alertness than caffeine and one is less likely to rely upon it. emoticon