A Guide to Tea Drinking as a Mindfulness Exercise
Mindfulness: the process of bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment.
The Benefits of Mindfulness Exercises
Mindfulness rests the analytical mind and brings peace to the whole body. Studies show that a mindfulness practice:
- reduces stress and anxiety
- improves flexibility and response to unexpected stressors
- promotes better sleep
- supports the physical body including lowering blood pressure, reducing chronic pain, and alleviating indigestion
Tea Mindfulness Practice
– The key is to do every step of the process from preparation, to pouring, sipping, and cleanup with complete attention.
– Find a nice quiet place and simply sit with your cup of tea for a moment. Observe your surroundings.
– As the leaves and the hot water come into contact, use every sense to observe what happens.
– Make every movement, whether its pouring the hot water or reaching for your cup, with intention and awareness.
– Take your time with it. Really savor every sip. Notice the feelings and sensations you experience in your hands, mouth, nose, mind etc.
– Let any thoughts enter into and then pass through your mind without engaging with them.
Pick the perfect tea-ware: Using a clear glass teapot (or cup) so you can watch the color change or the tea leaves swirl as you steep.
Be strategic with your tea choice: Think teas that are particularly beautiful to look at (petals or pearls) or have a strong aroma and flavor to boost your multi-sensory experience. Alternatively, choose a tea with relaxing properties to quiet your mind and enhance the wellbeing benefits of your mindfulness ritual.
Tea + Zen Buddhism
Tea first found its way to Japan from China in the 12th century when a Japanese monk Eisai Zenji, discovered tea while studying in China, and brought tea seeds back to Japan with him upon his return. Tea was planted within buddhist monasteries and was incorporated into Zen meditation rituals eventually evolving into the elaborate tea ceremony traditions of Japanese culture today.
A mindful cup of tea as part of your day pays homage to this history.