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Coffee, caffeine and me

I was given a visual "hint" from some friends while on vacation in Portland that Yerba Mate might be a way to segue into a "more gentle" caffeine fix. That and "more love, not less."
Keri Brenner |

My vacation last week in Portland was significant, transformative and useful for a variety of reasons.

That applies mostly to the periods of time when I wasn’t slumped over in a chair snoozing due to lack of access to my regular caffeine fixes.

I attended a five-day event entitled “Awakening to True Happiness” given by Matt Kahn, a spiritual teacher whom I wrote about earlier this year when he visited Grass Valley. (He returns in November, but the two-day event is sold out).



There was coffee available at lunch and dinner breaks, but none in the conference room where Kahn — whose upcoming book, “Whatever Arises, Love That,” debuts Jan. 5 — was speaking.

I had to wait for the meal breaks.




This was in contrast to my usual routine at The Union as Prospector/Features Editor where the coffee pot is always on, my other caffeine fixes that shall remain nameless (all legal) are close by and I’m basically kept wired until at least after deadline every day.

Woe is me (yeah, I feel you all out there tearing up in sympathy).

However, this “suffering” led to a stunning insight related to Kahn’s main teaching of self-love as the primary tool of transformation.

The insight was that the one (i.e. me) who spent three decades or so surviving the trauma, drama and trials of daily newspaper and online journalism by ingesting caffeine deserves “more love, not less,” Kahn would say. As the oldest of four siblings of a loving and generous but also Type A, aggressive, public-relations-driven workaholic father, I and the other three who all adopted the resident family paradigm and its accompanying addictions are worthy of as much love as anyone else in this amazing world of courageous survivors.

I shared this insight with fellow attendees at lunch. They nodded in understanding; then they pulled out a bag of Yerba Mate (see photo) and suggested I try that for a “more gentle” caffeine high.

Then we were all reminded of Kahn’s story about how he once advised someone who sought his help to quit smoking to keep on smoking, but before inhaling, say to himself, “This is the most loving thing I can do for my body.”

The man followed Kahn’s advice; within a few weeks, he lost all desire to smoke cigarettes.

May you — and all parts of you, even the addictive parts — all receive “more love, not less” in the week ahead. And may you all enjoy the fabulous music and events in this issue of Prospector.


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