Coffee update: I have not had any coffee since I last wrote. I've been sticking with black and green tea and it's going great! One thing I didn't mention before is that part of the reason I really want to quit caffeine is because I've started a meditation practice in addition to yoga. And meditating when your brain is ping-ponging around on a caffeine high is unpleasant.
So yesterday I went on a meditation retreat. It began at 9 a.m. with yoga, then we switched between sitting and walking meditation until 3:30, with lunch in the middle. Then I did another yoga class from 4-6. It was a long day, but I'm glad I did it.
Meditating has been a challenging thing to do, because it's hard for me to sit quietly with my mind for 30-40 minutes, or even for 10 minutes. Part of what I find challenging is that I'm self conscious about it. I often feel like I'm not doing it "right" because I'm not seeing immediate results. One thing I've been learning, though, is that all you have to do is sit, and over time you will see the benefits. There is no end to the practice--you never reach a final point and then say, "my meditation practice is complete." Even if you reach enlightenment, or nirvana, or you leave your physical body for a few seconds, you always come back to Earth, and then you try again, and so on. This has been a hard concept for me to grasp, and so it's hard for me to write down, but I hope it makes sense. To quote Hey Arnold, the journey is the destination.
I keep thinking of something that my clarinet teacher Rick Faria said to me once. At the time it meant a lot to my clarinet practice, and now I'm finding that it's really relevant to most areas of my life. He said to me that even though it feels like your playing is having all these dramatic peaks and valleys - one day you're playing something perfectly, and the next you're squeaking all over the place - your general ability is progressing, and that's what really matters. So when you think you are in a rut (or harder: when you're flying high), just proceed as usual and know that you're heading in the right direction, as long as you're moving forward.
So I'm learning that each moment is brand new, and the moments that came before don't dictate the moments that will come later. And knowing this, my mind and heart are slowly opening more and more. It's pretty neat.