Do I have to give up Coffee?!
Balancing Spiritual Living with Everyday Living
Many of my new students and clients often ask questions along the lines of 'Do I have to give up coffee?', 'Can I still eat meat?', or 'Can I still have a glass of wine?'. My answer is always the same. Yes you can. If you want to. And if not, that's totally OK as well.
I want to dispel this myth that gets implied in the spiritual community, but that no-one seems to openly talk about.
You don’t have to be a vegan/vegetarian/non-drinker/non-smoker/totally-all-the-time-in-control-of-your-emotions person, etc. to be a Spiritual person!
Trying to hold yourself to a set standard which puts you in the frame of mind of being guilty, or worried is not the most loving thing you can do for yourself.
Whilst I completely acknowledge the physical health benefits of not drinking to excess, not smoking cigarettes, and eating healthily, and taking regular exercise, one also has to take into account our emotional and mental health and well-being as well. If you are making yourself ridiculously unhappy by trying to go vegan, and you really miss cheese and bacon and milkshakes, then don’t do it. Or find a way to ease yourself in gently if you do want to do it. Your emotional well-being is so important as well. If you’re making yourself feel guilty because you had a few too many drinks last night or smoked a couple of cigarettes, then don’t. Why would you make yourself feel bad? Balance and moderation work wonders.
If you genuinely feel like you want to live and eat more cleanly, whether your reasons are ethics, conscience, or as a result of a personal revelation, then by all means go for it! I'm definitely someone who would be cheering you on to reach your goals! However... I get really cross when I see a lot of ‘spiritual snobbery’ around the fact that some people smoke and eat lots of ice cream, or that if you do yoga and are vegan and are teetotal that you’re somehow better than those who don't. It’s bollocks!
Make your own choices and don’t let anyone make you feel bad about them. Remember, “When I judge another, I reveal an unhealed part of myself.” (That goes for you as well as them by the way! I periodically have to tell this to myself as well if I catch myself being judge-y, I’m also human and totally still on my own journey.)
There is a lot to be said for eating and living cleanly, getting enough exercise and so on, it does help to boost your endorphins, and promotes a sense of well-being, happiness and calm, but you are doing no-one any favours if you feel as though you’re depriving yourself. We are not here for the pursuit of suffering, we’re here for Love and experiencing that however you like, (as long as you are not hurting anyone obviously). There is plenty of time to work your way up to completely clean living if that’s something that you really would like to do. And it’s awesome if you do choose that, but please don’t feel it’s a necessary requirement to leading a Spiritual Life. You can begin your Spiritual journey right where you are. And you don't have to give up coffee!
In terms of allowing yourself to feel your emotions, go for it. Even the ones that make you feel less-than-awesome. Anger is really healthy as a response, but the point is not to hold on to it. Feel it, then let it go. You are not a Zen Master (unless you are HH The Dalai Lama) and you are here to have a human experience; a messy, emotional, sexual, creative, irrational, untamed, occasional-chocolate-and-wine-having experience!
The point is, don’t beat yourself up for being who you are. You choose to work on self-improvement if you wish to do so, but you are already enough.
I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences with this! You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Facebook!
Love Leonie xx