How to Relieve Anxiety with Tea Meditation

tea meditation quote

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
two hands,
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.

Energy Management: What No One is Talking About

quote about managing time

How many times have you or someone you know utter the words, “I wish there were more hours in the day.”

Jim Rohn said, “Either you run the day or the day runs you.” True, but what if one concentrated on running the day with mindful energy?

What I relied on the most while working in Corporate America in the 1990’s was the ability to consciously create a realistic deadline, then list the tasks which would fit into that time frame. While this method turned out to be a successful way to achieve my working goals, it inevitably drained almost all of my energy. I would challenge myself to push harder in order to meet my deadlines, while losing my sense of awareness.

Nowadays, when asked about time management, I no longer believe one can manage time, for it is ever-changing.  But one can manage themselves and the attention to use the time wisely or waste it.

Managing one’s time can be quite the harrowing experience in absence of mindfulness. When one becomes a witness to their actions, time is used for deliberate purpose. If life seems to be moving faster than you would like, take a moment to analyze how that time is being spent.

These are ways in which by managing one’s energy, the essence of time can become secondary.

Giving the mind and body the nourishment it needs. Many of us rush through the day without an adequate amount of sleep, exercise and stillness. Even a minimal form of exercise such as walking not only improves physical stability and longevity, but also contributes to a better state of Being. Activities such as yoga and meditation can be vital in awakening the very core of our energetic mindset.

Being mindful of one’s emotions. Whether one is in a state of elation or depression, it is important to understand how our mind created the thoughts with led to those emotions. Since each one of us is a powerful source of energy, we can, with mindfulness be an “overseer” to our thoughts and create our own reality.

Being in a state of enthusiasm:  A few weeks ago I came across a fortune cookie with the quote: “Enthusiasm is infectious, stimulating and attractive to others. People will love you for it.” Being enthusiastic about what you love the most can only bring more of what you love the most. If you are passionate about a goal, a relationship, a job, what ever it may be—follow it completely and engage yourself in the continuous learning, growth and creativity of it.  My yoga teaching keeps me stimulated and engaged every moment of the day!!

Practicing meditation.  More companies in the US are finding meditation and mindfulness concepts to be extremely helpful for their employees. Taking just a few minutes a day to be still in meditation has been known to strengthen the “pause” button; ceasing that auto-pilot thought mechanism and the overall neediness to do it.  I have found that following my meditation classes my students suddenly feel energized and have a renewed sense of Self.

But yes, no one can deny that time isn’t valuable asset. If you want to live a meaningful life however, one needs not to worry about managing that time. In being here now, in the present, is the true beauty of life.

It’s your turn. How are you managing your energy? What are your views on time management? I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

A Real-Life Lesson About Yoga


“Yoga means addition – addition of energy, strength and beauty to body,
mind and soul.” ― Amit Ray

On January 2, 1999 I walked into my bedroom, plopped on the bed that I shared with my then-boyfriend, and prayed intently to God.

With tears streaming down my face I looked up to the ceiling.

“I no longer want to live. Can you help me?” I whispered.

I had been arguing non-stop with my boyfriend of 11 years, and after the last piece of furniture had been smashed to pieces in our 1 bedroom apartment (and countless bruises on my body) I realized I had enough. It was time to find something that would help me escape, if only from my tormented mind.

The next morning I shoved myself into the crowded N train that would lead me to my office in Tower 2 of the World Trade Center. As I looked around at my fellow corporate executives I noticed a young woman sitting in the corner. Donning a long necklace made of beads and a somewhat tattered yoga mat between her legs, she looked annoyingly happy. All I could think was that her happiness was attributed to her enjoying her aloof, hippie lifestyle.

I envied her—or her happiness. As she stood up from her seat and walked toward the subway doors I wondered what types of people she surrounded herself with. Did she really practice yoga, or was it a spiritual front?

That afternoon, instead of having lunch at the Lemongrass Grill, one of my favorite Thai restaurants I decided on takeout and began looking online for anything on yoga.

I came across a website that offered step-by-step Ashtanga poses by Dharma Mittra. As I looked at each of his postures I became more eager to learn them. I printed every single pose and created a 56-page bound book that I could refer to.

That night, after my usual 6-mile run and walking my little shih tzu Gizmo I lit a candle and sat quietly on a blanket on my bedroom floor. I quickly skimmed through the book, flagging the pages of the poses I would attempt.

I waited impatiently for my boyfriend to leave for his night job to begin my first official yoga practice. I started with four, modified In Surya Namaskar A (Sun Salutations) and immediately began to feel a difference in my awareness. Breath became the anchor to my movement, which would be a pathway to my meditative practice.

At first, because of the fresh bruises in my ribs and lower back caused by my ex-boyfriend I was not able to practice postures such as a seated twist or locust pose in their fullest expression. However, because of my determination to be fearless I was able to bring myself into poses I never dreamed possible. Thus began my journey of asana; not aware of the vast knowledge I would be exposed to in the coming years.

In July of last year my dear friend Caren took my husband and I to a yoga class in Naples, Florida. The teacher’s style was very different to the Ashtanga classes I was used to in New York, but I was delighted to learn various types of asana practice.

After class we went back to Caren’s place. As I grabbed a bottled water from her refrigerator she said, “You know, you would be a GREAT yoga teacher!” I looked back at her with eyes of bewilderment. “Really?”

The quest for teacher training sessions in my area began, and I was adamant on finding someone who would not only be teaching what modern yogis knew, but what the ancients shared with their students.

Initially I thought teacher training would involve heavy asana practice and honing the skills needed to become a yoga teacher, but it became so much more. The journey transitioned from a workout to a work in; breakdowns to breakthroughs. In the last few months my asana practice has surely improved my strength and flexibility, but there was one unforgettable lesson that has transformed my entire Being.

Since healing from physical abuse and my survival of the September 11th attacks I found that I forgot how to breathe naturally. I allowed my mind to control the evenness of inhales and exhales, or lack thereof.

In stressful situations many of us tend to hold our breath. But when there’s no natural release from the body, the stress on your heart and circulatory system can elevate blood pressure two to three times above normal.

In one’s physical practice of yoga or asana, breath work is extremely important for the body temple to flow each posture. Various types of breathing techniques such Nadi Shodhana, also known as alternative nostril breathing with retention can calm the mind and prepare for meditation, while Ujjayi or “victorious breath” can invigorate and create heat in the body.

Whether one practices Ashtanga, Vinyasa or any other yoga practice, returning the mind to the breath is what will assist in the focus of the mind’s eye.

In just a matter of weeks I will conclude my teaching training course at the Yoga Pagoda. Not only have I established lifelong friendships with the studio’s teaching staff and my fellow trainees, I have found the inner strength to re-introduce myself to my Self—a valuable lesson indeed.

I wrote this post as a celebration for the International Day of Yoga, which was declared by the United Nations General Assembly. Due the overwhelming popular of physical yoga postures here in the West, it is a blessing that we can all learn to incorporate ancient and modern practices into our lives.

It’s your turn. Have you found breathing an important part of your yoga practice? I would love if you shared your thoughts below.

Until then, Namaste, Namaskar. xo