How many times do you really just sit and have a cup of coffee, for no other reason at all than just that?
We are so preoccupied with all that we have to get done that, even if we do find we have five minutes to kill here and there, we usually use that time to think through what we should be doing or where we should be next or to replay some past encounter or mishap over and over in our mind or worry about what is coming up.
We miss out on so much of our experience this way.
But here’s how to really savour that cup of coffee and take a mindful break from the endless rushing around that you do all day long – often inside your head.
If you don’t drink coffee, you can try this exercise with any other drink you choose (or even a cigarette, if you smoke – just be aware and curious in the same way as outlined below). And don’t worry about anyone noticing what you are doing, as you drink it mindfully, they will just think that you are deep in thought – which is what most of them will be doing anyway and secretly what you are not doing!
Remember, there is no agenda to have any particular experience of drinking your coffee – the only goal is to pay attention to whatever your experience is. So, go and get a cup of coffee (or whatever your vice may be) and try this exercise out now or as soon as you can.
Wake up and smell the coffee!
- First, hold your cup of coffee in both hands (and, if you usually do this, experiment by holding it some other way). Notice the weight of the coffee cup plus the liquid inside it. Notice the heat of the cup against your hands and fingers.
- Acknowledge and be aware that you are noticing the weight and the heat of the cup. There is the weight and the heat of the coffee cup and then there is you noticing it. Allow the weight and heat of the coffee cup to take centre stage in your awareness.
- Do not worry if you cannot feel the weight or heat enough or properly, remember this is not about the weight and heat, it is about awareness and acceptance of what is, just as it is.
- Bring the coffee cup closer to your face and notice the aroma, soaking it up as it fills the space in front of your face.
- It is natural for your attention to wander or become distracted. When this happens, just gently guide it back to noticing your coffee and the sensations you experience.
- Now, as you bring the cup closer to your mouth in anticipation of the first sip, notice the movement in your body, hands and lips.
- Acknowledge the fact and be aware that you are noticing the movement in your body, hands and lips. There is the movement in your body, hands and lips and then there is you noticing this movement.
- Allow the movement in your body, hands and lips to take centre stage in your awareness.
- Now, as you take a sip of coffee, notice the temperature of the warm liquid enter your mouth and any physical responses in your body.
- Notice and experience the taste of the coffee.
- Be aware that you are noticing the taste of the coffee.
- Before you swallow, notice the natural impulse to swallow. Once you have swallowed, acknowledge how your body is now one sip of coffee heavier.
- Now, notice the gap of time after you have swallowed before you take the next sip of coffee into your mouth.
- Your experiences of drinking coffee change – but the part of you that notices all these experiences does not change, it remains simply aware, nothing more, nothing less.
- Should your attention wander or become distracted, just gently guide it back to noticing your coffee and any sensation that you experience.
Mindfulness for Busy People by Michael Sinclair, Emily Shaw and Josie Seydel is out now in paperback and ebook.