Mindfulness and Withdrawal

The withdrawal from caffeine is far worse than the withdrawal from nicotine. With nicotine withdrawal all I experienced – aside from the cravings – was a weird kind of distance from things. Not a distance as in detachment but an annoying visual distortion that I can’t quite pin down. It was like things were too close and too far away at the same time. As well as this was an increased difficulty in relaxing. I couldn’t just sit down and enjoy a book but I had to work at it. I had to consciously slow myself down otherwise I read more rapidly than I normally do and found I wasn’t settling.

Caffeine is far worse. I am now four days without caffeine and there is an almost constant headache (though not as intense as yesterday so hopefully I’m over the hump!). My capacity to focus has significantly decreased. In meditation I notice that I am lost in thoughts far more often than I normally am. I also find that I’m unable to descend to the same levels of peace that I have been able to over the past 3 weeks.

This doesn’t bother me so much, nor does it disincline me to the practice. Though meditation is far less pleasurable in the throes of caffeine withdrawal there are still the benefits noticed once practice is finished. Also meditation – as part of mindfulness – is not about the pleasure of the experience; it’s about being mindful of whatever is being experienced whether that is pleasurable or not. I’ve found curiosity a wonderful aid in maintaining mindfulness during meditation and day to day experience whilst suffering caffeine withdrawal.

“What does the headache feel like?”

“What does it feel like to not like the headache?”

“Is “not liking the headache” and the headache the same sensation?”

Using the analogy of the game for mindfulness I used in a previous post: playing the game of mindfulness during caffeine withdrawal is like going back to the level I was at months ago.


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