Sharing yerba mate tea, Bombisha finds itself part of the stimulants industry. A booming sector whose strengths include enhancing performance, increasing endurance, the feel good factor and assisting us to meet the demands of daily life.
And whose shadow aspects are associated with words like adrenal fatigue, sleep disorder, addiction and nervous system imbalances – eek!
So, where does yerba mate fall on this spectrum? Does it contain caffeine? Is it better for me than coffee? Will I get a come down? How much can I take daily?
The answers to these questions are revealing and important, but what I have found to be more relevant to overall wellness is the broader theme of stimulation…
What does it look and feel like to remove ourselves from all stimuli?
No talking, no television or smart phone, no stream of cars, no radio, no shopping centres, no billboard messages, no inspirational sculptures, no sweet smelling flowers…
And from this nothingness, what does it feel like to turn the stimulation dial up to 20% — standing on the forest floor beneath a canopy of giant trees, the songs of birds, our music, nourished by fresh air and wild foods.
And then the stimulation dial turned up to 90% — a multi-storey apartment building in the middle of one of the largest cities in the world, commuting on a busy train plugged into a smart phone listening, watching and texting on the little screen, arriving at the office to slam down a double shot expresso to read the “to do” list for the day. From apartment to train to street to office and back again, hundreds of people!
How we process the stimuli in both of these environments is hugely influential to our wellbeing. I’m sure we’d all love to be as calm as the monk meditating in the middle of the bustling street — the ultimate representation of stillness in chaos — however, he/she has done a lot of work to get to this point.
For most of us, we’re charged up in the city scenario compared to beneath the tree canopy. These two extremes represent different rhythms of life which we can slow down and speed up through the choices we make. Add a coffee, cacao or sugar hit to an already racing mind and the state will be amplified. Speeding everything up like this is one perceived way of gaining time and meeting the external rhythms…
And another way to gain time, is to slow everything down and bring presence into our being. What does the city scenario look like with meditation? With less television? Nutritious food? Time in nature?
I don’t label commercial stimulants like coffee, yerba mate and cacao as “good” or “bad”. Although, saying this, I do have grades for stimulants and my preference is for the least processed and whole form. I never eat refined cane sugar, for example. It just doesn’t have much going for it other than a snap-shot feel-good moment.
With stimulants, I feel it is the context that we use them in that makes the most difference. A coffee is more enjoyable for me when I am not relying on it to get me through the day. And on an individual level, if one has a super sensitive nervous system or highly addictive nature, any stimulant becomes questionable – coffee and television alike.
Consumable stimulants do tend to be amplifiers. If one has anger bubbling beneath the surface and there is no expression for it, it may be unleashed with the build up of environmental and consumable stimulants. Or if one is really tired, stimulants can amplify the depleted feeling.
What I personally love about organic yerba mate as a stimulant is that it is a clean, unprocessed source of energy. It is as simple as dried leaf and hot water. My nervous system does not feel aggressively stimulated by it. However, if I’m already on overdrive, yerba mate will be sure to up the dial of crazy!
I love stimulants. I love the chaos and euphoria. However, my body has been teaching me about context with debilitating migraines.
The only thing to be done with a migraine is to completely remove the self from all stimuli.
After enough lightless rooms, I began to take notice of what was actually unfolding.
Initially, I wondered if I needed to see a professional about a brain tumour or hormone imbalance, but after experiencing an acupuncturist and an energetic healer release the tension, it confirmed, to me, that it was an accumulation of energy with no expression.
I watched myself take on the stimulation of my busy life, my mind was fast and full and I was holding high expectations of myself. It was in these moments that the creeping sensation would begin to rise up the back of my neck. If I unplugged at this point, I could sometimes intersect the full-blown migraine.
Ultimately, I had to let some things go and incorporate practices into my life of “letting go”.
Migraines have taught me a lot about my relationship to stimulation and what I personally need to create balance.
All which has helped me use consumable stimulants more holistically.