newsletter logo: Sangha Reflections

Caffeine Breath

By Mary Hillebrand

JOURNAL ENTRY: SEPT. 13, 2003 --
I donít do caffeine.
Used to.
Lots and lots of it.
Too much?
Quit, cold turkey.
That was years ago.
Today, cool and rainy Saturday morning, coffee sounds wonderful.
Drank a whole mug, with cocoa mix added (curious, I guess).

Oh! Jitterz...
Talking way too much -- driving Angie crazy?
Ugh. Nauseous.
"Ugh. Donít let me do this again," I instruct her.
"Next time, itís just a sip," she promises.
Light groan.
Keep busy, use this energy... pay bills, balance checkbook.
Thank goodness software checks my work -- who knows what this buzz might do?
But oh, I feel crummy.
"Ugh.... Iím going to complain about this all afternoon. Fair warning."
That said, I decide to stop complaining.

Iím hot.
Iím cold.
Iím hot.
What to do, what to do?
Get physical, walk some dogs.
Nope, none on the schedule today.
Run up and down the stairs.
Unh unh. Big belly-ful of coffee.
And the PB&J I just woofed unmindful.
Get up.
Drink water, walk around.

Oh yeah, try mindfulness...
I take my shirt off (Iím hot) and lie face-down on the couch, dropping all tasks.
Watch my breath, watch my breath.
Canít keep my eyes closed -- eyelids are twitching.
Stare at the couch.
Huff, out goes the breath.
Hisss, in comes the breath.
My belly burns -- hello nausea.
Breathe in, feel the nausea.
Breathe out, release the tension.
My back feels hot -- sun through the window.
Nice music... a symphony!
Didnít I put on piano?

Huff, out goes the breath.
Hisss, in comes the breath.
Hmm, wonder where Angie is now...
Must be upstairs -- did I scare her away?
Huff, out goes the breath.
Hisss, in comes the breath.
Wonder if sheíll recognize this as meditating.
The position? Iíll call it "Lotus petals scattered on the couch."
Huff, out goes the breath.
Hisss, in comes the breath.
Feel my pulse bounce through my neck to the couch.
Might drool on couch cover.
Oh well. No stopping me now.
Huff, out goes the breath.
Hisss, in comes the breath.
Blech, Iím not liking this feeling.
Just feel it, donít like or dislike.
Breathing, breathing.

Jump up.
Type for a while.
Shirtís on inside out, backwards.
Not important. Gotta type!
Caffeine-powered fingers.

Oh, letís try breathing again...
Flat on my back.
Breathing in, I calm myself.
Okay, I try.
This is the best I can do. I accept it.
My head floats above the couch cushion.
Breathing out, I smile.
Well, inside I smile.
My cheeks are numb.
Listen to the body, I remember Jeanine saying.
Palms, soles of my feet pulse.
Skin tingles all over.
Belly burns.
Dwelling in the present moment,
I know this is a wonderful moment.
True opportunity to learn.

Look again.
Mouth waters.
Biting my tongue! Stop that.
Breathing in, I calm...
Yellow mosaic light shimmers, dazzles behind my eyelids.
Scalp throbs.
Breathing out...
Breath gets shallower.
Always through my mouth -- too much for nose to handle.
Lungs working so hard!
"Calm," I think, "calm..."
Breathing in, calming.
It will come, keep trying -- or not trying, just let the breath...

Breathing in?
Or am I on breathing out?
Donít matter.
Breathing in, I calm myself.
Mmmm, Chopin... and my favorite part. Nice.
Breathing out...
Hmm, I skipped a few.
Calm myself, smile.
Still numb.
Present moment.
Wonderful moment.
A gift.

Heart beats and beats and beats.
Tired yet jittery at once.
Oy. Just keep breathing.
In, calm myself.
it IS kinda funny, I guess.
This moment.
Good one.
Try again.

Get up, moving a little slower.
Thank you, breath.
Letís do that some more.
Back to the couch.
Breathing in, I calm myself.
Breathing out, I smile.
Freddie on the answering machine -- hey, I CAN smile!
Cheeks are calming down.
Dwelling in the present moment,
Gee, that Thayís a smart one.
I know this is a wonderful moment.
Hey, heís speaking tomorrow. Oh boy!

Hey, calming.
Iím supposed to be calming.
Breathing in, I calm myself.
Breathing out, smile.
Present moment.
Wonderful moment.
Gotta love this mindfulness stuff...
Who cares if Iím not so skillful.
Caffeine breath is better than no breath.