It’s no secret that meditation is a huge factor in overall health and wellness. When it’s difficult to meditate, you can build moments of mindfulness into the day through simple activities like brewing and enjoying a cup of tea. Before we jump in, let’s discuss mindfulness.
What is being mindful? Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present and aware of where we are and what we’re doing and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. It’s another form of meditation. That might sound trivial, except that we so often veer from the matter at hand. Our mind takes flight, we lose touch with our body, and pretty soon we’re engrossed in thoughts about something that just happened or fretting about the future. And that can makes us anxious. Mindfulness is rooted in Zen Buddhist meditation practices, used for centuries throughout East Asia. Buddhism, which offers up many ways to bring focus to our everyday lives, has a long historical association with tea. Buddhist monks living in mountain monasteries have long used tea growing nearby to help maintain a gentle alertness whilst meditating. Even today, tea is served in monasteries and beyond to encourage a state of focus, clarity and emotional balance.
When we think of tea, what comes to mind? For us, calm and relaxing are the first words to come up. The association of tea with relaxation and meditation is no accident. Closely intertwined with Buddhism, especially Zen buddhism, tea is often seen as an aid for meditation, stemming hunger, clearing the mind and curbing intense reactions. Buddhism deems that tea helps with cultivating the body and mind. Therefore, drinking tea has become a common practice of monks. As recorded in the Song Dynasty, monks “get up, wash their face and hands, and drink tea in the morning. Then, they sit during meditation and then take a nap. When they get up, they wash face and hands, and drink tea. They have a meal. Then, they wash face and hands, and drink tea.” In brief, everything is connected to tea.
The main tea that is drank during these ceremonies is Matcha. Matcha can calm your stressed mind and provide your central nervous system relaxation. It creates sustainability to mental alertness. The property of this type of Green Tea to keep your mind relaxed and calm is the first reason Buddhists monks choose to consume Green Tea over any other tea type.
When you think of meditation, you might think of someone sitting on the floor with their legs crossed and eyes closed. The truth is, meditation can be anything that you do where you are fully present. Have you ever been driving on the freeway listening to your favorite song and realize that you missed your exit by a few stops? That was a form of meditation! Not everyone can jump right in and sit and have their mind go completely still. It takes practice and can improve your overall life in many ways.
These days we are constantly on our phones and computers and the notifications don’t stop popping up. Our minds are constantly hopping from one thing to the next. When you meditate, you may clear away the information overload that builds up every day and contributes to your stress. The mental and emotional benefits of meditation can include:
- Gaining a new perspective on stressful situations
- Building skills to manage your stress
- Increasing self-awareness
- Focusing on the present
- Reducing negative emotions
- Increasing imagination and creativity
- Increasing patience and tolerance
Now, how do tea and meditation go together? One of the easiest ways to start being mindful is to pay attention. That mind sound silly but stick with me here! When you are making your tea in the morning (or anytime) pay attention to everything you do. Have you ever stood and truly listened? As the bubbles start to form there’s an orchestra of shifting sounds. It’s a good time to put down your phone and take a moment. When you are getting your tea out of the tin, listen to the strainer scoop up the tea leaves and hit the side of the can. As the water meets the tea leaves, colors slowly swirl and deepen. Depending on the tea, you might be able to see the leaves unfurl as they start to infuse. This is a good moment to observe and quieten those thoughts that are often whirling around in our heads – you might find it’s quite noisy in there! As you bring the cup to your lips, maybe you can feel the warmth of steam on your face, and notice the different aromas that meet your nostrils. Sip slowly and savor each sip.
This is a great way to tap in to finding your inner peace and help in thinking more clearly from day-to-day, all thanks to our favorite thing, tea.