When I was a little girl my father was working full time at a fast food joint and at night a student at NYU. The time we spent at home together usually consisted of him studying for exams. Even with his hectic schedule he never seemed stressed or anxious. My beloved Mom, the constant worry wart she was would ask, “Rick, how are you so calm all of the time?” “I just drink my tea and everything is alright,” he’d reply with a smile.
As many children do, I followed in my Dad’s footsteps for years, ordering a hot cup of earl grey tea from the deli or a chamomile as a night cap. Tea, along with yoga and meditation eventually helped me heal from years of insomnia and PTSD symptoms. Also, with the winter months in New York City being so brutal a cup of tea every night warmed my body and brought me to a relaxed state of mind.
When I met my husband in 2001 however, my love for tea was replaced with one cup of light coffee every morning. I was always the fan of the afternoon cup ‘o joe to help me stay awake at the office so I was no stranger to it. Morning coffee was my husband’s thing, and it didn’t take me long for it to be mine as well.
Note: This is not a stab at coffee drinkers one bit. I drink both coffee and tea and I love them both.
Everything changed in February of this year while attending yoga teacher training. I attended a workshop in which the host introduced us to CCF tea, an Ayurvedic combination of cumin, coriander and fennel known to improve digestion—one of the most important functions of the human body. When one is suffering from anxiety, the digestive tract can go haywire, which is why relaxing the body temple is so important.
I suddenly found myself a tea-aholic once again, but by combining my love for tea with asana (yoga) it has now become a meditative practice.
This cup of tea in my
mindfulness is held uprightly.
My body and mind dwell
in the very here and now. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Of course, drinking tea is certainly not the only thing that can relieve anxiety, but it has been used for thousands of years as a non-prescription antidote for many stress-related ailments.
In this short video one of my favorite teachers and authors Thich Nhat Hanh shares his tea meditation method with Oprah Winfrey. In it he describes how this type of meditation should last an hour, even when holding a tiny cup of your favorite tea.
Earlier this week I held an hour out of my day to practice my first tea meditation. At first I wondered if could actually drink only one cup in a whole hour, but with discipline, mindfulness and presence it was a beautiful and eye-opening experience.
Now it’s your turn. In what ways to do you relieve anxiety? Have you tried tea meditation? I’d love to know what you think.