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Mindfulness and tea

At a Mindfulness workshop recently I gave the group a perfect, unintended example of being caught up in thinking and not being mindfully present (ironic right, but hey - I'm not perfect).

Part the way through the day we had a tea break. I got myself a mug, boiled the kettle, picked out tea bag and took my drink back to my seat.

Except on arriving, I only had hot water. The tea bag never made it in my cup!

I had been busy paying attention to other things and hence missed my glaring error.

The truth is, how often do we go about our day thinking about something else rather than paying attention to what's happening hear and now?

If we are honest, quite a lot, right?

Whilst I am significantly better than what I used to be, here are some examples of when I am not always wholly present. Maybe you can relate?

🧠 Making drinks/food

🧠 Watching TV

🧠 Walking around places I know

🧠 Driving home late at night when the roads are quiet

🧠 Listening to people

🧠 When my cat wants strokes

🧠 Doing jobs I don't enjoy doing.

I was in a café recently that has a step 3 metres inside the door. Despite being marked with hazard signs, on the day I was there 3 people fell up that step because they didn't see it. They were busy thinking about and looking at something else instead of what was immediately in front of them. (They were all ok, and definitely won't do it again!)

The point of mindfulness is to be full present to what is in the hear and now. This maybe being present to the external world such as our physical environment, the weather or a conversation or our internal world such as our thoughts, feelings and physical sensations. There are numerous study attempts linking the mental and physical wellbeing benefits of being mindful in as diverse subjects as psychotherapy, music, sport and parenting. Results show mindfulness can in as little as 4 weeks practice reduce stress levels, increase attention spans and facilitate performance.

There are plenty of reasons why people aren't mindful. Sometimes it's because they were never taught to be by adults around them that were also not mindful and present. Pain (either physical or emotional) without adequate support can cause us to retract into ourselves so we don't feel it, loosing connection to our feelings and the world around us. Sometimes we feel overloaded with responsibilities and tasks causing us to take our attention away from what we are doing to focus on something else. Being bored can often lead us to wandering off into fantasy or fiction, as can feeling like we're somewhere or doing something we don't want to be doing. I'm sure there are others you can think of too.

Tea to the rescue!

Whatever the reason we're not being present to the here and now (mindful) there are 3 easy ways we can utilise tea to help us come back to the present moment.

1) Be fully present to the process of making tea. Take 3 minutes out of your day to mindfully full the kettle, select a cup/mug, choose a tea bag and fill your cup. In that time be focused wholly on the task at hand and resist temptation to be distracted by anything else.

2) Drink your tea with conscious awareness. Sit and observe your tea. What colour is it? What is the vessel like that it's in? What does it smell like? What temperature is it? How does the cup/mug feel in your hand? How do you feel about getting to drink this cup of tea? How does your body change in anticipation?

Then allow yourself to put the tea to your mouth. How does it feel? What does it taste like? What impact does it have on your body? What does it feel like to get to the end? Do all this whilst doing nothing else like reading or chatting, just being fully immersed in your experience of this moment's cup of tea.

3) Now take your empty tea vessel to the washing area. Discard any remnants and lovingly wash the vessel so it is ready for next time. How do you feel as you do this? What has it been like to slow down and do just one thing with all of your attention? Did you make a good choice of flavour? What might you do differently next time to be even more mindful?

The above aren't questions to be rigourously answered but to be held gently with curiosity and openness.

It is this same mindful attention I invite you to cultivate in your life. Yes, you will probably find you feel like you do/achieve less in a day and that it is much slower to live this way, but I invite you notice how this process makes you feel and whether your beliefs about achieving less are actually true, or whether they are just thoughts founded on feelings, not facts.

So there you have it, a lesson in mindfulness via tea. I trust it is useful!


Would you enjoy doing this exercise as part of a group? On Sunday 7th July I am running a Nature & Meditation Day in Mark Cross, East Sussex. Together, we will enjoy a relaxing day of mindful presence completing exercises and activities to heighten self-awareness to improve feelings of connection, wellbeing and relaxation. For more information, check out the events section of our website and Facebook page.

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