May 13, 2009 / Creative Writing
I watched Rebel Without a Cause on TV late one college night when I learned …
April 14, 2022
Begin slowly. Inhale and exhale deeply twice and then let your breath come naturally. Without judgment acknowledge that your first thoughts are about coffee. Let those thoughts drift away like perfectly balanced water through a cloth filter.
After pouring your coffee, pause for a moment to feel the warmth of the cup, the steam as it reaches to caress your face. Move outdoors toward the wicker bench you have begun using for morning meditation. Recognize (again, without judgment) how great it is that you are willing to do your sit outside in all kinds of weather. Bow to yourself for this. Arrange the red indoor/outdoor pillow you added for butt comfort just right as you settle.
Create a mudra of hands cradling your coffee mug. Consider how holding and sipping from said mug is really no different than gazing at a candle.
Chant opening words, as opening words make it official you are now meditating. Realize that the line “May we be free from hunger and discord” practically blesses the drinking of coffee while meditating.
Taste your coffee. Do so mindfully. Are there floral notes? What is the aroma and bouquet—note that you might be thinking about your five o’clock meditation. Return to right here, right now. Taste. Are there chocolate undertones? Have you added enough cream? Resist returning to the kitchen for just a dash of cinnamon. Be with the discomfort.
Breathe. Feel your shoulders move down and away from your ears, feel your body relax into the bench while keeping your spine straight. With your chin tucked and your gaze still soft, notice the woman from down the block who walks her two labradoodles at this time every day. While she and the caramel one wait at the corner, the black one rolls in the dewy grass. After they have passed, wiggle the kink from your back. Try not to think about what to make for supper, though if you do, let the thought pass like kidney beans and tomatoes added to yesterday’s chili.
Make sure your legs are uncrossed. Feet on the ground. Feel the pulse of the earth coming up through your feet and into the hands holding your expensive-yet-chipped pottery mug like a favored child. Observe the thin webs of spiders in the dying pine’s branches, the way the bees land on each flower, drink, and leave. End your time with another sip of coffee. Consider how the flavor changes as the coffee cools, how the color of the liquid seems to sink into itself. Bow to this good yard. Recite your closing words. May the hearts of all beings be opened.
Joanne Nelson is the author of the memoir This is How We Leave, which is available from Vine Leaves Press. Her writing appears in anthologies and such literary journals as Brevity, Citron Review, Museum of Americana, and Redivider, and she is also a contributor to Lake Effect on WUWM—Milwaukee’s NPR station. Nelson lives in Hartland, Wisconsin, where she develops and leads community programs. More information is at wakeupthewriterwithin.com.