I make my wife coffee every morning. I don’t drink much coffee myself, so making coffee for her is my small contribution to our happy relationship…so far it’s working! The other day I was making her my perfect cup of coffee (instructions below). I have an old school method of making coffee with just hot water poured through a paper filter. If you’ve ever used this method, you know you need to keep pouring water into the filter, and there’s a danger of overfilling the mug. For me, since I can have a hard time keeping my attention on something like that, the coffee can often overflow out on the counter, which is a bummer.
Well, in making coffee the other day I thought, “If I fill the cup completely full of coffee there isn’t any room for coffee creamer!” Yes…I had the explanation point in my mind. Why I thought this was such a great “discovery” was because I wasn’t really thinking about it in terms of coffee, I was thinking about in terms of life. Sometimes it’s easy to think that the goal of life is to fill your cup completely to the top. There is a lot of reinforcement of that idea everywhere we look, and people that are extremely busy are the one’s that seem to be held up on a pedestal as a “success”.
The thing I see in myself when I am too busy, or other people I talk to who have too much to do, is stress. Instead of feeling happy to have our cups full, it can be difficult to relax, breath, enjoy life.
The more I practice yoga and learn about yoga philosophy, the more I understand that life truly is about being happy. We are hear to savor what is around us and inside of us. Life is amazing and we are supposed to enjoy it. That’s the goal. We are alive to be happy, and our happiness spreads happiness. And, that happiness is always inside of us, we just need to let there be room in our cup for our light (coffee creamer!) to come to the surface. But, if we fill our cup completely full there’s no room for the cream. There’s no space or time for the joy that is living, because we are too busy living it.
So, let yourself be ok about filling your cup shy of the rim. With that extra space that’s left, allow your own inner joy, happiness, creamer to come to the surface, and take a long, slow, delicious sip of life.
Making A Great Cup of Coffee
1. Put paper cone filter in a cone holder (I use Melitta #2 Natural Brown filter and Melitta cone holder)
2. Put the cone holder/filter on top of your cup (I use a 20 oz, ceramic cup)
3. Grind 20cc of beans
• I have a 20cc plastic scoop that was originally a protein powder scoop…works great!
• If you under grind, the coffee ends up to be under extracted and weak, if you over grind, the coffee can be bitter. Figure out what works for you.
4. Boil Water
5. Immediately after boiling, pour water into the empty filter, getting the whole filter wet. This also gets hot water in the cup. Hold the filter as you swirl the hot water in the cup (warming the cup), and then dump out the water.
6. Put the ground beans into the wet filter.
7. Now for the bloom – the most important part! Pour just enough hot water onto the beans so they are all wet. Using a circular motion starting from the outside of the coffee to the middle works well.
8. Let sit for 30 seconds.
9. Continuously pour water over the coffee beans, checking regularly so you don’t overfill.
10. Leave room for cream.
This last weekend I had the honor of officiating the wedding of a couple of my yoga students. They said they wanted a non-religious ceremony about love and community, and thought I was the best guy for the job. How cool to be asked! I’d never officiated a wedding before, and have actually not even been to that many weddings, so the whole thing made me pretty nervous, but I figured I might as well do it and have the experience – what’s the worst thing that could happen…well, just destroy one of the the most special days in the couple’s life – no pressure.
I met with the soon-to-be spouses a few times before their special day to figure out the details. As the date got closer I kept refining what I was thinking about and how I wanted to do the ceremony. Finally, on the morning of the wedding I realized that they asked ME to do it…so they probably wanted me to be myself, instead of pretending to be an uptight minister. That made me feel better so I threw in a few jokes, which paid off later.
When my wife and I arrived at the wedding venue, the amazing All Souls Interfaith, and the guests started arriving, I was hit by what you might consider an obvious realization — there were going to be people there I didn’t know thinking I was some kind of actual wedding officiator (instead of just a yoga teacher), and they were probably expecting the whole thing to be relatively good! I mean, the parents probably didn’t originally envision when their babies were babies that on their big day a yoga teacher would officiate their wedding. I was feeling the trepidation.
With this newfound realization, I started to get a bit more nervous, and read into my interactions with guests that they didn’t think I was qualified for the gig. All that energy was in me as I stood at the “alter” (under a huppah…which was under a couple apple trees) and the guests began to gather around. Once they were in front of me I had another realization…I wasn’t up there on my own…the friends I was marrying were there with me – that calmed my nerves.
We all came to silence, and still feeling anxious myself, and seeing the same in the crowd, I reminded everyone how lucky we were to be there, and what a special day this was. I invited them to savor every moment of this day. And then, something kind of amazing happened. I saw in the faces of all the people a true expression of love. It was like everyone allowed all their coverings of separation to disappear and let their own heart and light come to the surface. I did the ceremony, they laughed at my jokes, everything worked out great, and I got feedback that people thought the ceremony was beautiful. To me, what really made it beautiful is people opened up and allowed themselves to feel love and be present in the experience.
All this reminds me of one of my favorite yoga sacred texts, “Narada Bhakti Sutra”. The translation and commentary I prefer is by William Mahony, called Exquisite Love. Sutra #76 is the one that comes to mind – “Teachings on Bhakti (Love) should be reflected on, practices that awaken it should be undertaken.”
You can’t really argue with the sentiment, but it can be hard to practice. That’s one of the reasons it’s important to hold ceremonies like weddings…it gives everyone present, the newlyweds, the inlaws, the guests, the officiator, a chance for at least a few moments to undertake the practice of love. It’s ok if after that practice you may go back to not feeling love 100% in yourself, that’s normal. What’s important is to spend dedicated time, whenever you can, doing practices that awaken the love in your heart. Right now is a good time to start.
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May 22, 2014: Be Happy
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