Take Time: Mindfulness in a Mug
Tea drinking is ubiquitous. Tea is woven into the fabric of human history. On every continent on Earth, each with unique cultural traditions, you will find people who engage in a moment of stillness and tea.
A mug of tea provides respite, calm, and ceremony. A moment of tea drinking is not simply a delivery mechanism for caffeine and health benefits - it is a reprieve. Tea time is a filibuster against the constant demands of life.
As the pace of our lives becomes progressively more rapid, we require a counterbalance. Enter tea, ever-present and humble, to make space in our schedules. Tea allows us to slow down, regroup, and reflect.
Setting aside a small amount of your time to treat yourself to a cup of tea can foster well-being for your mind and body.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is awareness of the present moment. Being mindful requires us to focus on now rather than memory or possibility.
Pay attention to your current experience - all the sensory aspects. Don't dwell or project. Sounds simple?
We are always somewhere, and we are always doing something! But, how often are you fully present and aware? How often are you aloof? Daydreaming? Worrying?
How can we use our humble mug of tea to guide us more readily into a mentality of contentment?
Set Time Aside
With any mindfulness practice, you need to be free from distraction. Set aside just 10 minutes in the morning before work, during your lunch break, or before bed. Once you have designated your tea time, allow it. Reduce the number of other verbs. Just sip, experience, and breathe.
For this moment, turn off your television or computer. Don't flip through your phone. Multitasking is excellent when it saves time. But, it also creates a web of distractions that keep your brain moving.
Allow yourself to take a break from the kids, the laundry, or the deadlines. You might discover that you can step back in refreshed and recharged!
Focus On Your Senses
A mug of tea is a great focal point for meditative practice. It stimulates so many sensory organs. Try to focus on the taste, smell, and feeling as you sip. Allow yourself to pay attention to the subtleties of the flavor.
Cultivating contentment can be easy when you set aside your significant stresses and deadlines—bringing your attention to the enjoyment of your sensory experience.
Even an action as simple as drinking tea has many facets to appreciate. Becoming consciously aware and contemplative of one experience can stimulate a grateful attitude toward the little details surrounding you each day.
Why Include A Mindfulness Practice In Your Routine?
Scientists studying the mind's reaction to meditation have discovered physical changes in the brains of individuals who practice mindfulness. Meditation strengthens the areas in the brain that allow us to control our emotional responses.
The brain and body are connected. Relaxation of the body promotes relaxation for the mind and vice versa. Slowing down and taking in the small details of the day calms the mind and clarifies the thoughts.
The results of this simple exercise in calm are innumerable. Blood pressure levels lower when the mind is calm. Stress lowers when the body is relaxed. The results of one positive impact directly relate to another.
By meditating on a cup of tea, you get the added benefits of the leaf. Tea contains an amino acid called L-theanine, which stimulates natural calm within the mind. L-theanine stimulates alpha brain wave activity, thus facilitating a focused and calm mind perfect for your mindfulness practice.
Tea Culture, Ceremony, and Mindfulness
Japan's tea ceremony is renowned for its beauty and attention to detail. It is a Zen Buddhist practice called Chado, literally "Tea Way." The elegance and focus are part of the philosophy.
In The Book of Tea, Okakura Kakuzō explains:
"a special contribution of Zen to Eastern thought was its recognition of the mundane as of equal importance with the spiritual. It held that in the great relation of things there was no distinction of small and great, an atom possessing equal possibilities with the universe."
This mentality went well with the simple act of brewing tea. He continues, "the whole ideal of Teaism is a result of this Zen conception of greatness in the small incidents of life."
Now that we have explored the historical relevance of mindfulness and tea drinking, we can learn from the traditions of the cultures that practiced them. Perhaps a little ceremony can provide the focus we need during our fast-paced lives.
Whether you seek to be more productive, calm, or thankful, you can cultivate these habits through self-study and a moment alone with tea. Be grateful for the small details and flavors in the cup.
Be thankful for your ability to taste, smell, and explore your sensory world. Consult with yourself, and turn off the outside stimuli. You might smile at the reflection in the mug.