The power of being mindful can positively boost your mental well-being through the practice of consciously directing your attention and focus to the present moment. Meditation isn’t the only way you can practice being mindful — consciousness can be found in performing any simple activity such as taking a walk, doing yoga or brewing and enjoying a cup of tea. These activities help you slow down and lets you become fully aware of the process and act of what is happening right now.
Mindfulness means being focused with all the five senses of your body — taste, sight, touch, smell, and sound. Tuning into the present moment allows you to focus on the now, which creates a space in your mind to fully experience what is happening rather than the thoughts in your mind of the past and the future. In the moment of mindfulness, your thoughts cease to ponder about what has already happened and what should happen. The present moment allows your constantly thinking mind to practice rest, giving you the chance to stop worry and anxiety, focus on relaxation, and feel your body and emotions at the present time.
Consciousness and mindfulness can be practiced in the simple experience of tea drinking. From brewing to drinking and enjoying the tea, we can be intentional and focused on each stage rather than perform the ritual out of unconscious habit. The key is to let go of your mental thoughts, tune into the senses of your body, and gently return to it every time you notice thoughts begin to wander in your mind. Below are suggestions for how you can immerse yourself in the mindful experience of drinking a cup of tea.
- Take notice of the bubbling sounds of the water heating. Do you hear the growing intensity of the bubbling as the water reaches boiling? Do you feel the growing warmth radiating from the hot water?
- As you take out the loose tea or tea bag, take a moment to appreciate the aroma of the raw tea. What does it smell like?
- Feel your presence in your environment: your lower body while you’re sitting or standing, and the weight of your back and your legs.
- If you’re drinking a delicate variety of green tea, pour the hot water into a separate cup or pot to cool down. Take the moment to clear your thoughts for 30 seconds and appreciate the clean hot water as it rests.
- Feel the weight of the hot water in your cup or pot as you hold it in your hands. Pour slowly and consciously watch as the water changes colors on contact with the tea leaves. Take notice of the swirling steam rising from your pour.
- Do you smell your tea brewing? Let yourself hear the sounds of your environment as you wait for your tea to seep to your liking.
- How do your hands feel when you lift and hold your cup of tea? Notice the way your fingers are holding the cup and the way the cup fits in your hand.
- Bring the cup to your lips and slowly take a gentle, small sip. Savor the taste — is it bold or do you prefer it lighter? Pay attention to the sensations on your tongue. If your mind begins to bring in thoughts, refocus on the taste without any judgment or constraint. Take a moment to breathe in the smell of the tea again.
- Stay present as you consciously sip and swallow your tea. Notice how the liquid goes down your mouth, carrying the warmth straight into your stomach. How does your throat feel? How does your stomach feel?
- As you continue drinking the cup of tea, take moments to pause and be conscious of any feelings or thoughts. Are your thoughts being pulled into past experiences or worries about the future? If so, acknowledge it and be conscious of the mind wandering. Accept it. This practice trains your ability to observe your consciousness.
- Regain focus by shifting your attention to your cup of tea rather than focusing on your thoughts. How is the temperature of your tea? Has the flavor of the tea changed? Continue to observe your experience of drinking the cup of tea. Enjoy it.
There is no right or wrong way of practicing mindfulness or drinking tea. The act of mindfulness is to open your mind and your spirit to the present, sensing what is happening at the moment and noticing the thoughts of your mind. This trains your mind to give itself space to find peace from worries and stress that come from critical and analytical thoughts.