5 am: Your Coffee is Served

by [email protected]  Nov 30, 2013

If you read my first blog post, you'll know that I am practicing receiving and all of my housemates are participating in various ways.

Here is the summary of my research project of 21 days of me not lifting a finger in the community house I live in with seven people:

No housework. No laundry. (I have to ask someone in the house to do my laundry for me.) My breakfast is prepared for me. 5am coffee. Someone is getting up every morning to make my coffee.

* Today was the 8th day of receiving coffee from my housemates. Five people have awakened at 5am to make my coffee and SERVE it to me while I work at the dining room table and prepare to lead a meditation for my organization. The meditation starts at 6am on-line. Each experience of receiving coffee has been completely different and I am learning to receive in a brand new way. Day 1: Allegra came out of her room like a focused bolt of lightning. This was her purpose. She and I were Buddhist Monks, each here serving God, Spirit, Source, a Higher Power. Her morning job was coffee. My job was to prepare for the meditation. There was a sacred quality to receiving coffee.

RECEIVING LESSON: Receiving is a Sacred Exchange of Love.

Day 2: Laurel had prepared an evening of food and games the night before. I was not feeling well and went to bed without any explanation. I felt guilty that she was getting up after four hours of sleep to serve me coffee. She was kind, sleepily focused and checked to see if I needed anything else before heading back to bed.

RECEIVING LESSON: Receiving is Unconditional.

Day 3: Damian and I had a two-hour conversation the night before he made my coffee. He wanted to know why I have so much trouble receiving and why I was crying at the breakfast table about burdening everyone with this activity. (Yes, I sobbed on and off throughout the day on Day 2.)

The bottom line is I don’t want to inconvenience people. I feel like I have to give 10 times before I can ask or receive even one thing from anyone. Self-sacrifice and suffering is a fundamental part of who I think I am. My receiving channel is turned way down.

When I asked him what the experience was like for him: getting up on a Sunday morning—the only day he could sleep in—to serve me coffee at 5am, he paused...a long pause. He said, "What if I told you it was an inconvenience but I am going to do it anyway?" His words, spoken with a clear, gentle quality of love, were so direct and unexpected. I started to laugh out loud. For the next hour, I felt waves of belly splitting laughter. From the sweetest, kindest person in the house, I felt the power of receiving—no matter how the person gave to me. He shared that we do things that are inconvenient because we value and care about the person and we want to support them. What a contrast from the first day of feeling like a Buddhist monk. On this day, I would be receiving even though I knew that this was inconveniencing someone. Damian set his alarm. He prepared the coffee and then whispered a few questions to me about the cup and the cream. He whispered as if any question would disturb my process of preparing for the meditation. He wanted to make sure he had the coffee and the proportion of cream just right.

RECEIVING LESSON: I can Receive even when it is an inconvenience to the Giver.

Day 4. Andreas was too busy. That is the story I told myself—that he would forget, that he had a meeting that lasted until midnight and wouldn't be able to get up. He was also the only person who didn't mention the night before that he would be getting up to serve coffee to me. In the morning, he surprised me with detailed attention. He had the coffeepot prepared so he could push the button and focus all his attention on me. He came into the dining room to give me a hug and ask me how I was doing. He rubbed my shoulders. He served the coffee in my favorite mug and brought water in my favorite cup.

RECEIVING LESSON: Let Go of the Story and Receive Unexpected Surprises

Day 5: Today Andreas woke up at 6:15am—an hour and fifteen minutes late. He came downstairs and apologized and let me know that he had overslept. When he didn't arrive at 5am to make the coffee, I decided that I could make up a variety of stories about why he was not making my coffee. I observed the thoughts and feelings and made my own coffee. He had prepared and set up the coffeepot the night before so all I had to do was push the button and the coffee was brewing. I took a moment to pause and feel my body sensations and notice the feelings I had about him oversleeping or forgetting about me. No coffee. I felt neutral.

Reflecting on it as an exercise I thought about other things. What if I had been relying on him to take me to the airport? What would I have done? I would have knocked on his door to wake him up. Then I thought of other things where I would have felt abandoned, unsupported and unseen. Like if he forgot to pick me up at the bus stop at midnight or if he forgot to take care of me when I lay in bed with a fever. It wouldn’t feel good. I noticed that this is where I have limited myself from receiving because I don't want to be disappointed. I lower my expectations. I stop asking. I expect to be ignored and forgotten.

I also noticed how powerful my mind and expectations were. Why did I think he wouldn’t show up for me? In my heart, I felt a pulsing pain and I thought, “I am not important. I am unworthy or valuable." I felt sad.

RECEIVING LESSON: Keep asking and Stay Open to Receive

Day 6: Rachelle was happy and sparkly and serving coffee seemed to fill her with joy and purpose. In a conversation several days earlier after Damian and I talked about inconvenience, she shared that getting up at 5am right now was an inconvenience. We both laughed and acknowledged that we were in this together and wanted to see what would happen.

Today, I saw no evidence of inconvenience. Rachelle was so filled with joy, she appeared to be floating from the kitchen out to the back patio where I was leading an early morning coaching call before the meditation.

RECEIVING LESSON: Stay connected and Be Ready to Receive.

Day 7: Laurel is the person who has been making my breakfast almost every morning. It is easy to receive from her because her heart is so open and full and generous. We have so much love between us. She was up early getting ready to go to Oregon for a family visit and made my coffee and served a delicious breakfast.

RECEIVING LESSON: The more I open to receiving, the more love I feel.

Day 8: Allegra has been a visitor in our house for a few weeks. On her last day in the house, It seemed so natural for both of us to be awake. Allegra and Laurel came up with the original coffee schedule and posted it on the board. There was an appreciation of this time we had together.

RECEIVING LESSON: Receiving can be easy and flowing and fun.

So, what have I learned so far in this 21-day exercise of receiving and not lifting a finger in the house? Giving and Receiving is an exchange between two people. The giver chooses the way they want to give. The receiver chooses the way they want to receive. The exchange can have a variety of feelings and it can be graceful, inconvenient, joy-filled, agitated, playful, solemn and more. It is up to each of us to decide how we will allow ourselves to participate in the exchange. Another area of my life to be conscious.

I am either open to receiving or closed and that choice, moment by moment, affects the flow in every part of my life: love, money, sex, inspiration, beauty, and feeling.

I have more to learn. And the journey continues...