Many people like to meditate first thing in the morning, but some of us need a cup of coffee before doing anything else. Coffee (or tea), shower, and meditation are parts of a balanced morning routine. It’s essential to find out what order works best for you.
You should only drink coffee before meditation if it makes you focus better. The caffeine in coffee stimulates the brain, so it may help you meditate. But coffee also increases your heart rate and blood pressure. So if you feel restless, it’s better to drink coffee after your practice.
To answer this question in detail, let’s discuss how coffee can help you build a meditation habit and whether it helps you focus better during your meditation session.
Coffee or meditation—What should come first?
There’s no one perfect answer when it comes to finding the best morning routine. Some people feel tired if they don’t have their “coffee fix” in the morning. Caffeine wakes them up and helps them focus during meditation. On the contrary, some people may find coffee to be too much when trying to sit down and relax. So, how do you find out what works best for you?
Have a cup of coffee and sit down to meditate. As you continue to practice, pay close attention to how you’re feeling. Are you able to stay alert and focused? Or are you feeling restless and jittery? If coffee seems to improve your focus and help you stay alert, then go for it.
On the other hand, if your heart starts racing, and you find it hard to relax or let go of your thoughts, try to meditate with no coffee the next day to find out if caffeine is the reason for it. If indeed caffeine causes you to be restless, always meditate before drinking coffee.
In the morning, we get a natural boost of hormones to wake us up. The body releases cortisol as it prepares to wake up the brain. This process gives us a boost of energy and appetite. For some, this natural boost is enough to get them through their meditation session without coffee. While for others, some caffeine will add to their focus and increase their meditation stamina.
By the way, different meditation techniques affect your mood differently. If you want to learn about some meditations that you can practice in the morning, make sure to read the article on 6 best morning meditations.
What does science say about caffeine?
What happens to our brain when we drink coffee and how does it keep us awake? Well, caffeine doesn’t actually send energy into the bloodstream. Instead, it blocks the receptors that accept adenosine, a chemical that makes you feel tired. This blocking, in turn, helps the release of feel-good chemicals like dopamine. So, caffeine elevates your mood and improves your cognitive function, both of which can increase the quality of your meditation sessions.
Research also shows that caffeine from coffee stimulates the brain, improving your focus. It makes you more alert. Many people find this increased attention to be helpful in their meditation.
But caffeine is a stimulant. How can it help me sit still for 30 minutes?
Caffeine stimulates the brain, improving its ability to focus on a single task and carry it out efficiently. When we meditate, we’re trying to maintain our attention on a single object. So the two can complement each other.
That’s not all though. Caffeine also increases our blood pressure and heart rate. This can lead to anxiety and restlessness when trying to meditate right after having coffee. So you may end up having difficulties concentrating.
If that’s the case, try drinking tea instead of coffee. It has less caffeine than coffee, so it’s unlikely to cause anxiety or restlessness, but it’s usually enough to have positive effects.
Related article: How to Meditate in Bed – Complete Guide for Beginners
How coffee can help you build a meditation habit
We’re creatures of habit, and building up any skill takes time. You won’t see your muscles grow after your first workout. Only after you keep at it for a few months, will you see some improvement.
Habits are built in three steps: cue, routine, and reward. Cue is a trigger that tells your brain to act. It can be anything you already perform regularly – having coffee or taking a shower, for example. Routine is the actual habit you want to build. Finally, the reward at the end helps your brain associate the routine as something positive.
This could make for an argument in favor of drinking coffee before meditation. If you make coffee every morning, you can use it to create a routine for yourself. Incorporate meditation right after your morning coffee, and it’ll become a part of your morning ritual with ease. I drink coffee, and then I meditate for 20 minutes. In this way, you can use your morning coffee as a trigger to meditate.
However, if you feel that coffee harms the quality of your meditation, you can also use it as a reward. When you get up after your session, calmly enjoying your tasty coffee will instruct your brain to associate the reward of coffee with meditation. Over time, your brain will signal you to meditate every morning because it seeks the reward.
Also, if you’re struggling to build a habit of meditation, make sure you read my article on tips to make meditation a daily habit. I’ve listed 10 practical ways that’ll help you stick to your meditation practice every day.
Meditating over a cup of coffee
Meditating before or after coffee (or tea) is one thing. But how about meditating while having your daily dose of caffeine?
Usually, when we eat or drink, we just gulp the food or drink down our throat. We may start responding to texts, speaking over the phone, watching TV, or reading a book. These activities minimize the joy of mindfully drinking coffee or eating food.
The Zen tea ritual, known as chadō, is practiced in almost all Zen monasteries worldwide. The idea in this tea ritual is to drink your coffee or tea mindfully, taking in the aroma and savoring it one sip at a time. When you do this, you’ll feel the tea on your tongue, your palate, and finally going into your belly through the esophagus.
Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.Thich Nhat Hanh
If we drink our coffee mindfully, it will uplift us, because mindfulness of a few minutes does that. All you have to do is take a cup of coffee and drink it mindfully, and those few minutes will feel magical. Here are some instructions to guide you:
- When you take the cup in your hand, feel its warmth.
- Smell the pleasant aroma of the coffee and notice any salivation.
- Mindfully take a sip and feel the coffee touching your tongue, and then your palate, and then going into your belly. Feel the warmth moving from your mouth to your stomach.
It’ll not only relax your mind and body but also enhance your coffee experience. You’ll feel refreshed and ready to start the day.
Related: Is Meditation a Religious Practice?
Having coffee in small doses can help you focus better during your meditation. But if you experience jittery or restless while meditating after coffee, consider using coffee as a reward for your practice and put meditation first in your routine.
Good luck and happy meditating! 😊