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A Whole Planet on a Stimulant
If you’ve ever seen a report on Western (for some reason called Northern) Yemen fighters, you might have noticed that they all hold something in their mouths. When the camera focuses on them they push the leaf clump to the side with their tongues loudly declaring Allah akbar, and, by the way, death to America. Old Yemeni men’s cheeks hang flacidly, having used it, like some squirrel, as a cheek pouch for leaves. Leaves of the khat plant, a stimulant that is partly responsible for the alarming dwindling of water in the overpopulated desert country. Khat needs substantial irrigation and its cultivation area has grown 13 fold between 1970 and 2000. Every important issue in Yemen is decided in the afternoon khat rituals. If you do not chew, you are spit out of social life. The whole country is hooked on khat.
Source: Ferdinand Reus https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6114749
Such a dependence on a stimulant! — You shake your head. Then you sip your coffee and continue reading. Perhaps you are drinking mocha — a name derived from the Yemeni port of Mocha, from where coffee set out to conquer the world. The plant itself originates from nearby Ethiopia. According to legend, when a goat herder noticed his goats being remarkably lively, he sought out the plant whose fruits caused the condition. People tried out the beans and coffee culture was born.
According to a study by Mihály and Karnai about 90% of people drink coffee in Hungary, most of them every day. A mere ten per cent of us are free of this habit. And we only consume three kilos of the coffee annually, contrary to the Finns who drink triple that amount. Three quarters of people in the USA drink coffee every day with half of the total population gulping down at least three cups daily. How about you? Can you get up without coffee in the morning?
The other typical situation when people resort to coffee is after meals. Your body wants to turn inwards, concentrate on digestion, but you say “No way!” and kick it with a stimulant. This must have a great effect on absorbing nutrients. Even in traditional peasant culture with its extreme work ethics people took a nap after dinner. What do you do after meals, drudge on with a fix or give yourself some time to relax?
Our natural rhythms consist of active, quick periods followed by passive, slow ones. It’s a bit like the cycles of day and night on a smaller scale. When refusing to accept the downcycle we toss in a stimulant. It’s as if there was no night, only day.
Looking at a night-time satellite photo of Europe with a friend, cities were easy to identify. This is Budapest, that spot in Walachia is Bucharest. These lights are the Prahova valley settlements, here’s Brașov / Brassó / Kronstadt. This is Sighișoara / Segesvár / Schässburg. And between those two we could just discern my friend’s small Transsylvanian hometown, Cristuru Secuiesc / Székelykeresztúr / Kreuz. A town with barely ten thousand inhabitants on a map of Europe about 10 cm by 15.
Here’s Earth at night. Even at this resolution a bunch of megacities can be identified, such as Los Angeles, Tokyo, Johannesburg, or Rio de Janeiro. But where can you sleep?
Source: Wikiimages in Pixabay
Hell, we don’t sleep, we just work and party! There’s no Yin, only Yang. There’s no napping, only snapping, slamming and whacking; success, money, power, glamour, women and Ferraris!
We seem to have somewhat strayed from coffee, but not really. Everyone’s system is different and I’m sure that some people have no adverse effects from coffee. But we are talking about over a billion people pushing an overadvertised stimulant every single day. That’s not going to be negligible on the state of consciousness of our planet. And most people consume it with crystallized sugar that adds to the whamming of their system.
According to biodynamic therapya major factor in our health problems is being wired too long on a high frequency. We don't allow enough time for our bodies to relax and get in a state of deep rest where automatic self-healing processes can do their work.
The main active ingredient of coffee, as you know it, is caffeine. Caffeine works twice, first refreshing you, then, when it leaves your system, making you wobbly. You could say that it is the lack of caffeine that makes you weak, but ultimately the weakness is caused by the caffeine having been taken earlier. You have to repay the energy you have borrowed from yourself. Or accumulate more debt getting another cup. Many coffee drinkers say that it’s not the boost any more that they are seeking. It’s just the plunge they are trying to avoid. In other words coffee only serves them to stay on level zero. What an achievement.
There are several species of coffee plants used for drinks. Two are widely distributed: Arabica (Coffea arabica) grows in mountaneous areas and is supposed to be more tasty while Robusta (Coffea canephora) tolerates lowland industrial cultivation and has more than twice the amount of caffeine. (Barako coffee shop in Budapest serves two additional varieties.) All instant coffee is made of the caffeine bomb Robusta plant. And how about decaf? Decaffeinated coffee has most of its caffeine content removed by chemical means. Not the most safe procedure if you ask me.
One could argue that coffee is at least natural, as opposed to say, amphetamine. Or that there are drugs that are much worse. Or that the scintillation of screens will degrade your sleep just like coffee does. This is all like saying: “My neighbor also beats his wife, what do you want of me?” Well, you might observe your habits and think a bit about them if you want. Are you sure that a major life goal of yours is being a slave to industrial coffee production that’s killing our rain forests?
Coffee, originally being a rainforest plant, can be cultivated very ecologically in the shadow of great trees. But not a hundred million tonnes annually. Sun-tolerating varieties were thus developed and good-bye rainforest trees. A friend of mine that went to Peru told me that his boots were constantly crunching on coffee on the street. The beans are dried by dumping them on the sidewalk where people are literally trodding on them. This then becomes the advertised “hand selected piece by piece” coffee in Europe.
In one of the fables of Lázár Ervin Monster Lou is tortured by terrible sleepiness. All inhabitants of the Square Round Forest offer an antidote: pine needles to hold up his eyelids, rolling on the ground, cutting wood etc, but nothing works. Finally Mikkamakka arrives: “But what should I do, Monster Lou complained, when I’m suffering so much from sleepiness? Well, sleep, said Mikkamakka. Lie down and sleep. All of them remained with their mouths open.”
Many societies divide the day into two parts with some siesta in between. That used to be hard to do in a workplace but with hordes of people in home office it is not a distant dream now. And a twenty-minute meditation can be a part of a normal lunch break anywhere. After which your refreshed body will actually be able to pay attention to the task at hand. Moreover, you won’t slump and think about another cup when the caffeine effect wears off.
If you had been hooked on the black soup, it might be worth paying close attention to what it specifically does to your body and whether it is beneficial in the long term. Should you decide that it’s not, you are allowed to change your habits. In case taste was the main motivating factor, you can set out to find something even tastier and less violent. Perhaps the attraction was the ritual itself: sitting down with friends, enjoying a hot drink. What other possibilities are there that are more healthy?
People that have kicked the habit report experiencing their new state as freedom. You are allowed to join the lucky group of Free People. And if you were always clean, congratulate yourself.
If more and more people realize that they can drop their stimulants, the world will be a more peaceful place, at least by a drop. A drop is not much, of course. But every ocean is made of drops.
Source: Anirudh in Unsplash
The place names of this multi-ethnic area are written: Romanian (official) / Hungarian / German.
Biodynamic therapy is one of the most profound, most interesting, strangest and most friendly healing methods I’ve ever come across. We’ll come back to it at the right time.