Thursday, September 30, 2010


Hello Dear Ones,

I was delighted with the comments so many of you shared around the September Daily Practice of the Morning and Evening gathas. I hope you will consider continuing to practice with them, as over time they grow deeper in their import and transformative power.

For this month, I'd like to pick up as a practice something that many (most?) of us tend to do fairly absent-mindedly: drinking our morning coffee/tea/juice/water or whatever it is we drink in the morning.

There is a gatha for this as well, though you needn't memorize or use it in order to practice it's purpose and intent of helping us be awake and mindful of the act of drinking. I hasten to add that if your mornings are too time-constrained to take the time to drink mindfully, then please adapt the practice to another time. Whether it's at lunch, during your 'coffee break,' or in the evening, let at least one cup of your favorite beverage be a 'ceremony of daily life.'

Here's the gatha (substitute your beverage of choice for coffee, which happens to be mine!):

This cup of coffee in my two hands --
Mindfulness is held uprightly!
Mind and body dwell
In the very here and now.

Again, whether at home or at the cafe, taking some time to appreciate your drink (and your drinking) will  over time cultivate greater appreciation for other small moments of your day. I especially enjoy taking my morning cup of coffee in my two hands and feeling the warmth of the cup, the roundness of the mug.

Once you've taken your cup or glass in your two hands, either recite the gatha to yourself, while really looking at your drink, OR just take three mindful breaths. Use your senses, look, feel, smell. Then, feel the weight and texture of the cup as you bring it to your lips, the liquid flowing out of the cup, onto your tongue, and really experience its taste(s). Let yourself feel the impulse to swallow and experience the swallowing. Can you trace the warmth down your throat into your belly?

You don't have to drag this practice out. Even five or ten minutes drinking in this way will be of great benefit. AND, I hope I needn't have to add that it's best to "just drink," meaning avoid reading while drinking, chatting or listening to the news. Just drink. Or, as I like to say: "Wake up and smell the coffee!"

Please feel free to share any and all comments about your experience of this simple practice.

AND, finally, if you have any suggestions for these monthly Daily Practices, please feel free to forward them to me. Perhaps some month we'll be practicing one that YOU have suggested!

poep sa frank jude


  1. Funny thing: yesterday, my first opportunity to practice my mindful morning drinking was at the Dallas/Ft. Worth airport. In Tucson, we've a really wonderful 'coffee culture,' with many excellent roasters and baristas. Well, the latte I had at the airport was --- to be kind, lackluster. Interesting practice of noticing blandness, reactivity, mental formations. Disappointment is a VERY interesting feeling/emotion. Yoking the mind to disappointment was a challenge, in that the mind just wants what it thinks it wants! :-) Settling into the experience of the cup just as it was brought a deeper sense of understanding: expectation, impermanence, reactivity, like/dislike. The flavor of the world in one's relation to a cup of coffee.

    This morning, at a cafe in Montreal: completely different experience. Satisfaction has it's own dark side. The mind compares: "good, but still not as good as Maynard's in Tucson." Dissatisfaction arises and passes again as the mind settles into THIS cup; THIS moment, THIS place.


  2. Thanks, Frank. What I have discovered from this daily practice is just how rarely I am alone. I get up at 5am to have mediation time and usually one or more of my family members is waiting "patiently" for me to finish so I can be "mom" :-) So far I haven't had uninterrepted time for coffee, tea (or me) lol! I'm working on it. It has made me stop and be grateful and happy for all the minor "interruptions" in the morning with my children, husband and animals and then in the afternoon at work with co-workers and all the wonderful people I share my work community . Then back at home in the afternoon back at home with children and their homework... So although I haven't had a chance to do the practice as has brought moments of wakefulness...this moment (trying to have a cup of coffee) with these beautiful children wanting my attention.

  3. I am so on board! Thanks, Frank. *hug*

  4. It's been interesting to bring intentionality to my morning drink, the intention to be present and the subsequent streams of resistance to that, that emerge. I notice that my mind would rather be doing other things.... so some determined intentionality here....

    This morning noticed the heat of my cup in my two hands, the thoughts that in Asia they hold cups in two hands but usually in the west we hold a cup by a handle. I love to drink Japanese tea, so two hands works for me, there is something about the contact that is special. So this morning drinking hot lemon, contact emerged as calling for attention, the heat of the liquid passing through the cup to my hands, a sense of accumulating heat in my body as I drank. I imagined perhaps the temperature around my body changing and mixing with the atmosphere. A real sense of the interconnectedness of this simple act.

    I am calling this way of being a living prayer and intending to embody this more widely in my life. Marvin Gaye sings ' the way you give...Praising by the way you live....'

    A living prayer..... a living meditation.......

  5. I'll preface my comment today by first saying that in my practice tradition, the fifth precept is taken a bit literally as "Do not intoxicate your mind." When it comes to intoxication, we can do that with television, Facebook, gossip, all sorts of 'entertainment,' as well as meditation.

    And of course, drugs -- including alcohol. But just as this means you don't have to avoid all media, conversation, entertainment or (obviously meditation) we don't have to avoid all alcohol. So, last night, after a very cold and wet day here in Montreal, I took a nice warm shower, and sat with a glass of Italian red wine from Puglia. I generally enjoy fuller-bodied reds.

    Holding the wine glass in two hands, the warmth of my hands warmed the wine and released an amazing bouquet of aroma. I could smell the earth, the rain and 'sunshine' that had nourished the grapes that had become the wine. With each sip, I experienced the complexities of a good wine; how it tasted of fruit, earth, a hint of the sea.

    What I found perhaps most interesting is that is slowly sipping a glass of wine, one can see impermanence clearly, for as the wine 'breathes,' it's taste and body changes. It seems that with this particular wine, layers of complexity were released over the 30 minutes it took me to drink it that I know would have not been experienced had I drank faster or while reading or watching tv or while in conversation.

    Susan, I can definitely relate. That's why I even suggested that busy folk find some time where they can do this practice, even if for just 5 or 10 minutes. May I suggest finding some ways to make that time? Perhaps even asking for it from your husband? I have found that it doesn't take a lot of time to come back to oneself, but that doing so can truly revitalize us and make us more available to our loved ones.

    In any event, I hear you finding those 'drops of emptiness' where and when available, and that's worth celebrating!

  6. Frank...being apart of this group has made me more aware of the need to make the time for a daily practice.
    Just the thought of having a new practice every month to incorporate is extremely helpful.
    Thank you.
    This month's practice also brings to mind a book I read several years ago by Jeremy Rifkin entitled "Beyond Beef". It goes straight to the heart of mindful consumption. I highly recommend it. It is a treatment of the cattle industry and the ethical and economical reasons for not eating red meat.
    I also just read your chapter in your book "Mindfulness Yoga" about Right Consumption. I was a vegan for many years (not currently) and so I tend to be a bit intense in my beliefs. So it did me some good to read your last post. I like to enjoy a glass of wine or a draw of good beer with my husband in the almost a ritual of ending the part of the day we spend with others and beginning the evening together with each other and family. It is easy to get entangled with thoughts that alcohol can be an impediment to spiritual growth. When I know in my "heart" that I can enjoy that moment and that drink with people I love.

  7. I'm just catching up on the comments, and am smiling because I've experienced the challenges that both Susan and Frank have mentioned: one, the fact that I haven't managed to enjoy a cup of coffee alone yet (same reason: children!) and, two, one morning when the coffee I had was really awful. I logged on this morning to share my experiences, and found that you two had experienced them, as well! --Amy

    I love your mention of Facebook as an intoxicant, Frank, because I've been feeling that way about it lately. It's easy for me to put down a glass of wine when my head starts to feel fuzzy, but I don't seem to be able to turn off the computer when I'm catching up on my friends' FB posts. Trying to walk the middle ground between quitting it and immersing myself in it, and it's a difficult walk.

  8. Hello all! Much metta to you all. This has been VERY hard for me, i must say I was cocky when i first read this month's practice, i thought "Oh no problem, I can do it!" Geez, this process has been so humbling and spot on for me. I tried and tried for so many days well, sometimes only a sip or two was all i could manage. Two Mondays ago i was coming out of the subway when i noticed these people giving away free packets of Nescafe and the slogan they were yelling out was "Guaranteed happiness in every cup!" HA! I burst out laughing and thought "Guaranteed Happiness" who the hell can guarantee this? Jesus? Allah? Buddha, The Dalai Lama, Thay, Avatar Adidam? Who doesn't want happiness so yeah maybe this coffee will be the fix all..., if Nescafe promises happiness then Starbucks must promise Samadhi!!

    This weekend I attended Frank Jude's workshop (here comes a tangent before i make my point) and upon entering the yoga studio, i slip in to my old samskaras, as i tell frank jude that i wish i had brought my unsticky mat from home...i am one warm yogi, i begin to slip even if i think about asana and i noticed how i set myself up for slippage before i even began, (way to go "peaceful diligence of the heart) . well wouldn't you know it not having my unsticky mat did not hinder me one bit..and i realized how attached i am to frank jude and his style of teaching...anyway back to my original point...after the entire day i overheard a woman telling the class how she was going to go and grab a coffee and drink it as she drove home because there was no possibility of being mindful at home, i noticed that i felt a twinge for her, and then i thought, hey peaceful diligence you haven't even achieved more than five sips of mindfulness so take it easy there!!

    Well last night i had my first cup of tea mindfully in a long time, i noticed the subtle flavors of the herbs, the tastes i do not always enjoy, the flavors i love, (attachments) and how the cup felt in my hands, weight, the comfort and the warmth and the liquid as it flowed into my mouth and the different sensations in my body.
    as i came to the end of the liquid i felt satisfied and at ease... GUARANTEED HAPPINESS !!

    sipping once, sipping twice...
    enjoy your sips

  9. I can't believe it has taken me this long to read the October posting.....there is resistance here somewhere. I am really enjoying the Morning and Evening Gatha's and know that they are stirring up stuff in me - making me question many habits and routines I have in my life. It's kind of intense actually but compelling and a powerful tool for change.
    I enjoyed reading all of the posts here. I drink a huge morning smoothie pretty much every day and it is so easy to just gulp it down. I already feel a challenge coming as I anticipate drawing out the experience a little longer....I'll keep you posted in a few days. This is my first following of a Blog Ever. It does feel good to be a part of this Virtual Sangha. Thanks Frank

  10. OMG...I can't believe I am writing another comment so soon but I am compelled to:
    This is a response to starting the mindfulness drinking this morning. Very interesting..... Yesterday I was very antsy and a little scattered/anxious. So this morning I woke up unusually early and after trying to get back to sleep with no avail came into the kitchen and made some tea. I re-read the Mindfulness drinking Blog Entry and began to take my cup in both hands, feeling the warmth and really to take time experiencing drinking this tea. It wasn’t long before my sister came out of her room to the kitchen getting ready to go to work. Then my boyfriend was up and more action was going on.....I felt a little bit like Susan had mentioned above about finding time alone and how that was difficult. Anyways, it didn’t bother me that I wasn’t able to ‘be alone with my tea’ but that mindful drinking intention, (which I did continue throughout the next hour amidst the other things going on) created an openness of sorts to be mindful and present/open to all that was happening in the kitchen/conversation-wise this morning. In other circumstances, like if I was trying to read or write or whatever I might have been bothered by being ‘interrupted’ and annoyed at having this alone time disturbed. It was a conscious decision to be present in conversation and to be engaged with all that was going on, remembering my mindful drinking intention and having my cup of tea by my side, I became much more able to be present with everything else. There was a space created where it felt quite natural easy to do this. I guess what I am saying is that often I find it hard to be this open and I just want to do my own thing (even though I’ll often act friendly on the outside and keep my annoyance with the other person on the inside). Right now, more than an hour later, I am alone again in the kitchen again. Everyone has left and here I am so grateful that I was present and engaged in the morning activities. I really listened to what my boyfriend was saying and instead of falling into habitual patterns of annoyance -if he was talking about things I wasn’t really interested in- I actually listened and joked with him and I let myself laugh and just Be. I feel energized by this whole morning’s experience. This is a big deal for me.

  11. Hey Frank,

    I wrote a wee blog post regarding my experiences with the October practice. You could call me one of the people that "fell off the wagon" . . . ha ha. Nonetheless, I would love to read your thoughts on the post (specifically speaking to something I read recently in Brad Warner's new book).

    I hope you, Monica, and the baby are all great. You've been in my thoughts recently.

    Talk soon,


  12. Stef! Thanks for sharing both comments. Obviously, I hope you'll continue as long as you like with the gathas, and even if only occasionally you re-connect with mindful drinking, I think you'll continue to find as you report in your second comment, that just setting the intention can kind of influence other activities.

    Your second post actually reminds me of something Thich Nhat Hanh writes about in "The Miracle of Mindfulness" regarding a student of his who had become a dad. (Now you know why this example came up for me!). His student found that though he was happy with his baby, he found that he would look forward to 'putting the baby down' in the evening so he could have 'time for himself.' Then, after a while, he became more mindful of this habit, and decided that the time with his baby son WAS his time as well!

    I thought of this the other day. I felt internally a bit agitated, wanting to 'check my email' but the baby was crying and needed some holding and walking. Well, as soon as I let go of my 'agenda' about the email, and focused on the baby, I felt calmer and so present to her cries that my heart 'broke' with love for her. Even after she calmed and fell asleep, rather than put her down and rush to my computer, I just sat with her in my arms, contemplating her sweet face.

    The time we have is the only time we have. It is SOOOOO precious. I just want to be awake for it. That's just about the gist of what this practice of mindfulness really boils down to for me.

    Again, thanks for sharing and please continue to do so. It's great to be in touch!

    Nicole, Monica, Giovanna and I are doing really well. We're going on our first 'road trip' Tuesday up to Flagstaff! And I am simply head-over-heels in love with this miracle!

    I will check out your blog post and comment there.

    frank jude