To Breathe or to Caffeine

Early morning coffee, it’s a no brainer really! Whilst we recognise the need for breath in life, unless we are really faced with the caffeine or die dichotomy C8 H10 N4 O2 is going to win every time. The fresh bean aroma that greets me as I open the jar, softening as it gently falls from my lovely machine to form the perfect double espresso with crème. Another inhalation, through the nose, to appreciate that dreamy smell before the first drops touch my lips. The perfect temperature to allow the full flavour and body of the bean to be absorbed, tantalising my senses I feel a release throughout my body. I take a deep breath of satisfaction before revisiting the cup, the perfect ceramic transportation device for my perfect espresso.

The room is filled with a feeling of potential, the ‘I can do’ of caffeine, it feels instantaneous despite having being told it takes 20 minutes to kick in I know I can now take on the world! Everything is easier, I’m flowing effortlessly multitasking dealing with challenges, trials and tribulations that may have broken the weary shadow of a man that emerged from bed only ten minutes ago. Deprived of yet another nights sleep by the insatiable energy of two not so well toddlers, they may have been up numerous times throughout the night but they are ready to roll before the sun is up.

The daughter reliably informs everyone that she has looked out the window and it is morning. We were even invited to look but it seems such a long way from the bed to the window. We hoped ignoring the rally call might somehow avoid getting up, even if for 5 more snuggly minutes. Wise to our evasion techniques the daughter enters the room with gusto and announces with a sense of pride that yes it is morning and she is ready to go down stairs. So is her brother, he is now awake and laughing at his sisters bravado, he is in on the joke and is perfectly aware there is no sun light penetrating the edges of his black out blinds. There’s no need for caffeine to give these two a boost there ready to rock, roll and negotiate the descent of les escaliers.

The adrenaline surges of the early hours are no longer there it’s a dull overwhelming sense of duty that pulls us to our feet. Struggling to locate my feet never mind the toilet, I am reminded this is not the way down stairs by the daughter and shouted at by the son for passing him with only a kiss and good morning.  I had wanted to relieve myself earlier but for fear of waking the sleeping beauties, now it’s less about self relief and more about the extra few seconds of preparation. I know they don’t have toddlers as Drill Sargent’s in the forces but the noise and delivery of instruction is comprehensive. Wee completed, son gathered in the left arm daughter in the right it’s time to prioritise balance and awareness and negotiate the baby gate. More of a hindrance to us than the children of late, why do we still have it? A fleeting thought that will not be recalled until the early hours of tomorrow morning. Down the stairs, make the warm juice and start the day with some games in the lounge. All seems happy, oh no, potty for wee required, then breakfast, now all are happy for at least 5 minutes. 5 minutes that’s all it takes….

Hello my lovely coffee beans, I know you’ve been waiting for me and I am ready for you… let the process begin. I don’t care about the come down later on, I can top up again, or maybe I do…..

That feeling of emptiness that envelops me as the caffeine vacates and dumps me, leaving me dehydrated, impatient, empty, devoid of something I can’t quite put my finger on. I had an hour of non-stop, all action activity, I took on the world and got my daughter to preschool! Surely my one a day is a good thing, what’s more it helps me have a good clean out. But, there is the question mark.

In the time it took me to make the coffee I could have popped outside, still in sight of the kids, breathed a little, moved a little, smiled a little and given the neighbours something to smile at. A fresh dichotomy, to breath and move or put the coffee machine on?

I am not advocating a ban on coffee or writing this blog to discuss the medical effects of caffeine on the body but it’s worth knowing Caffeine takes energy from your Kidneys to help push you on to new heights of academic and physical greatness, this is far from ideal. The ‘one coffee a day’ model I like to claim to adopting makes me feel like I get the pleasure and taste of caffeine without the negative by-products of excess.

I recently listened to a mini podcast on micro training, by Karate Ka Iain Abernethy, discussing the merits of training when and where you can even, if only for a short period of time. I have always advocated such an approach, stretching whilst stroking your dog, joint mobilising in the shower, Dao Yin on the Move etc

I recommend classes to form a foundation in all training and learning but in time we need to take some responsibility for ourselves, further developing knowledge, skills and health on our own and in classes.  There is a danger we become precious with our training, seeking perfection in all things from location to form can mean we never take the first step.

Feeling sluggish in the morning can mean there is stagnation in your liver, which affects you as a whole. Movement helps the organs, so help them to help you. Little and often is a formula recommended by many (I’m sure the coffee drinkers agree!!), where and how is everyone’s personal challenge but the early morning presents a perfect opportunity! Fresh crisp air waiting for you outside the door… If like me your body is waiting for you to welcome it to the new day, give it a burst of natural vitality, kick starting the body and mind then give this a go.

The process – simple is always best!

Once the, *insert your daily challenge*,  (for me kids) are happy and you have 5 minutes get outside and breathe!!

Big full, wholesome breaths!

Start with one exercise, Raising the Water and Opening the Chest, Happy day Breathing, anything that feels right at the time, connecting your breath with your movement gently focusing the mind on what you are doing. If you can do this facing the sun even better!

One exercise will no doubt lead to another, trust your body, in the same way it loves a coffee it loves exercise more.

You will feel better and happier and your body will appreciate it. There is no down side to this, little and often as and where you can but preferably outside.

There is a third way…do both

You can now enjoy a coffee later in the day, in your favourite coffee shop instead of whilst rushing around the house.

If you are still unconvinced and encounter an advocate of breathing feel confident in reminding them that monks used caffeine to help them through their all night meditations. Then sit back, relax, breathe (through the nose) and immerse yourself in the aroma of endless potential, even if just for an hour! J

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