There are many opportunities for us to practice mindfulness in daily life. We could take a deep conscious breath at every red traffic light, or pause for a moment when the phone rings. Some teachers have suggested that it can be nice to take a moment to be truly thankful for each meal before you start eating - as a way to ground yourself in the present to fully savour every bite.
Personally, my main practice off the cushion is centred around the humble cup of tea.
“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future; live the actual moment. Only this moment is life.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
I don’t have a ground-breaking ritual or brand new creative idea for mindful tea drinking to share. This is simply one of the small ways I try to work mindfulness into my life, one of the little changes I have made to intentionally live more mindfully. It also doesn’t happen each and every time I make a cup, there have been many that simply get brewed in haste and finished without noticing!
Often though, I will make my tea like this:
First, as the kettle boils I’ll stick around in the kitchen, listening to it heat up and watching as the bubbles begin to form. We recently bought a glass kettle, which makes this more fun!
As it forms a rolling boil, I’ll place the tea in the diffuser and into a mug. When the water is in the mug, I stand there and try to simply wait for the tea to brew.
Once it is ready, I will walk away for a few minutes, usually to check my phone or email if I’m honest, it’s so hard to avoid this temptation these days!
Finally, when the tea is cool enough to drink, I do my best to sit down and really savour the first few sips. There is such delight in a well made cup of tea, it is one of the simple pleasures of life if we stop to appreciate it.
If I have time, I will drink the whole cup like this. If there are too many things to get on with (such as exam revision that I am in the midst of at the moment) then I will only pause for the first few sips.
That’s it really. In fact, it’s so simple and straightforward that I feel like a bit of a nerd devoting a whole post to it. However, simple small changes can make a really big difference over time. If you were to spend 3 extra minutes a day practising mindfulness with your cup of tea, that would add up to over 18 hours in a year!
Learning to pause in the midst of our day is a valuable skill, it is how we integrate what we learn from meditation into our lives. Taking time to appreciate the little things that bring us joy, can influence us more than it might seem. You might start with tea, or mindful walks in the park, until gradually you can be more present for many moments in your life - and less caught up fretting about the future or worrying over the past. Start small, keep it simple, and find what works for you.