Caffeine, Consciousness and Choices

Today’s blog is by Assistant District Manager, Melvyn Howe.


Coffee: a humble bean from a relatively uninteresting looking plant that has mutated into a bewildering array of steaming over-the counter beverages.

They have become the mainstay of concentration for large numbers of often academically burdened – and, indeed, socially enthusiastic – students.

The beverage, which boasts its’ own aficionados and culture, fulfills the same role for probably even more hard-pressed professionals, juggling a growing rash of intense demands on time, intellect and basic staying power.

However, a study suggests the effect of caffeine – the world’s most widely used stimulant with an estimated 2.25 billion cups of coffee drunk daily – is in the mind of the drinker, not necessarily in his or her cup.

The result emerged after University of East London researchers plied 88 students, aged 18 to 47, with coffee.  All were self-confessed coffee lovers who downed at least two cups a day.

Some were given caffeinated coffee and told it was decaffeinated. Others were plied with decaff but informed it was the real thing.

Tests for mood and brainpower followed. The result? Those who knew they were drinking caffeine, as well as those who simply believed they were, demonstrated improved attention and speed.

Said the researchers: “The findings suggest the expectation of having consumed caffeine confers an enhancement on sustained attention that is at least comparable, and perhaps superior to, the effects of caffeine.”

It seems the study is saying trusting coffee for concentration is no more than an exercise in thought. And probably not the best use of thought at that!

Some years ago I was convinced I couldn’t really function without regular “caffeine infusions”. Each day started with one, the morning featured several more and so, too, did the afternoon. You may well ask: “But why not?” After all it certainly seemed to help my powers of concentration.

Of course, there came a point when I realised I had a growing coffee dependency. I don’t recall being desperately concerned, but at one point I recalled my ability to concentrate had actually been fine before becoming caffeine-assisted.

I had come to believe coffee could somehow boost my power to think. But now I was uncomfortable with the fact that I had surrendered my control to a bean.

For me this was a spiritual issue.  I was making a god out of a drink.

I started making a mental protest whenever I felt the need to brew up and was soon drinking a lot less coffee.

Eventually I found I was happy without any coffee at all.

Far from having given something up, I felt a sense of freedom which allowed me to be myself.  I was complete, without any bolt-on extras.

In the scheme of things this wasn’t the biggest challenge I had faced in life, but it carried a profound message for me.

It taught me the importance of being alert, watching my thinking and asking myself: “Why am I doing this?”

It also showed me you don’t have to live in a state of constant surrender to things you are not happy with.

The spiritual ability to make right choices is perhaps an inherent factor which defines who we all are.

I believe it is an ability that never deserts us.  I used mine to choose the freedom of a consciousness unencumbered by the questionable attraction of coffee.

What will your choice be today?

6 thoughts

  1. My mother found Christian Science shortly after World War II. She was looking for a way to know how to make decisions in her life. One of the added benefits was her instantaneous healing of smoking. She was reading Science and Health and smoking while she read and one morning after reading Science and Health the night before, she went to reach for a cigarette and was repulsed at the thought of smoking. The nicotine habit was gone and she never had another urge to smoke again. Drinking also fell away from her through her study and commitment to Christian Science.


    1. Thanks for sharing that, ddauter. My own freedom from fixation was release from addiction to gambling, also through reading Science and Health. That was two decades ago and I have never felt a tinge of attraction to it since then. It is amazing what a change of thought-orientation from self to Soul can do!


  2. I was just thinking on the subject of coffee drinking this morning as I walked by the coffee pot and the smell was pleasant to me. Thank you for this article for it in inspiring to me in my desire stop drinking coffee. Mary Baker Eddy says…Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need. Your article has met a need for me today. I’m grateful.


    1. Hi Mary. I gave up coffee some years back when I recognised I didn’t actually like the taste of it…but I still love the smell of it! My wife Jenny and I enjoy going to cafes because we enjoy the ambience, including the smell of those beans roasting. Maybe I will need to give up my addiction to cafes…! 🙂


  3. For most of my adult life, I have as I learned in Christian Science, I was perfect and should not have any need for ;hysical healing because I would not let it into my thinking. This has been for me a much more rewarding life than a lot of my friends and working associates who seem to often be talking about their problems of helath. I live in a town in Illinois where it is possible to get everywhere by bicycle and I do not own a car so I do ride everywhere. This includes bowling where I carry my ball and shoes in a backpack. Atout a year ago, while working one of my legs became extremely sore and both the upper leg and the lower leg and expecially the knee joint were very painful. This brought to mind at first a fear of possibly arthritis, which I had heard about from others. I had to stop my work quite often which consist of standing for up to 12 or more hours at a time so that I could sit down to rest. I decided that I must do some specific work on this and not be tempted to entertain any such thoughts of age related problems as I am 72 and have never felt old at any time. My work in Christian Science after a few days allowed me to move slowly and bike, but yet there was a considerable limping as I walked. Another fog clearing spiritual thought was needed and sure enough as I entered church one Sunday a member said to me, “Claude, you need to do some work on that now.” That was all it took and I was awakened and Was healed from then on with no more thought of pain and thus full healing. I am so grateful for Our Master’s teachings and Mrs. Eddy’s work which has brought us this wonderful knowledge about God and us as His image and likeness.


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