The popularity of mindfulness has exploded over the past decade. Oprah Winfrey, Arianna Huffington, Gwyneth Paltrow and Emma Watson all publicly praise its benefits and companies like Google, Apple and Xero here in New Zealand run mindfulness training for their people.
For anyone who isn’t familiar with the research behind practices such as mindfulness and gratitude it can all sound a little airy-fairy. But research in the relatively new scientific field of neuroplasticity has shown us that practising mindfulness – i.e. giving a single activity your full, undivided attention without any judgement – can retrain your brain to be more calm, present, content, creative, focused, productive and less stressed. (1,2). That sounds pretty good doesn’t it?
Tea is a very sensory experience that lends itself easily to mindfulness. Most tea drinkers have at least one cup of tea each day, making it the perfect way to integrate mindfulness into your daily routine. Here’s how:
1) When you open your pouch/canister/box of tea, shake it, close your eyes and breathe the scent of the tea leaves in through your nose. Notice the aromas. Can you name them?
2) Look the tea leaves on your spoon. Are they black or light brown? Green or white? Rolled into balls, twisted or broken into small fragments?
3) Listen to the sound of the water being poured over the leaves and then once steeped, the sound of the tea being poured into your cup.
4) Look at and feel the wet leaves; how have they changed in colour and size? Are they glossy or dull? What do they smell like?
5) Hold your cup in your hands. Does it feel smooth or rough? Warm or hot?
6) Look into your cup and admire your poured tea. Can you name the colour? Is it clear or opaque?
7) Hold your cup under your nose (I like to close my eyes here). What notes can you smell? Are they the same or different to the dry and wet leaves?
8) Breathe in when you sip the tea, hold it in your mouth, then breathe out your nose as you swallow. What flavour notes can you detect? How does it feel in your mouth? Is there a lingering aftertaste?
Taking five minutes to fully appreciate your tea will not only give you a better appreciation of the flavour and quality of your tea, the mindful act will help to bring your brain into a state of calm. The more you repeat this, the more natural this process will become. What a perfect way to start the morning.
> Subscribe now and enjoy the nourishing benefits of artisan tea
1) Harvey, Shannon. (2016) The Whole Health Life, Australia. Print
2) Hofstee, Dr Chantal. (2016). Mindfulness on the Run. New Zealand. Print