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 keep me 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. 🙂
Life did change 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 calming 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.
Earlier this week I held an hour out of my day to practice my first tea meditation. At first I wondered…Could I actually drink only one cup of tea in an hour? Nevertheless, I was intrigued.
It was a rainy, Sunday afternoon; a perfect time for tea. I closed my laptop, turned off my phone and proceeded to brew some “White Blues,” an all-natural blend of lemongrass, orange zest and white tea, courtesy of my dear friend Bea Kunz of Sage Hill Gardens.
My mind was racing with thoughts of the upcoming week, so while waiting for the tea to steep I sat in sukasana a.k.a. “Easy Pose.” Bringing my focus from my thoughts to my breath, with every inhale was a count of 5, and exhaling in the same fashion. This “Sama Vritti” or equal breathing technique can help calm the restless mind and body temple .
After five rounds of Sama Vritti I returned to the kitchen countertop where my tea was waiting for me. As I poured it into my favorite teacup I immediately noticed the aroma of lemongrass. The beautiful scent awakened my senses.
Sitting comfortably on my meditation pillow I began to take my first sip of tea. For the very first time I was aware of my hands, gently enveloping the cup and observing the steam as it bellowed out into the air. With every sip I found myself more present than before. There was no past to regret, no future to worry about. I was here, now, with my Self and my tea.
An hour had came and left, leaving me with a feeling of inner peace and acceptance. I was free of stress, free of worry. I couldn’t wait to experience this state of mindfulness once again.
In this short video one of my favorite teachers, Zen masters and authors Thich Nhat Hanh shares his tea meditation with Oprah Winfrey. In it he describes how this practice should last an hour, even when holding a tiny cup of your favorite tea.
Now it’s your turn. In what ways to do you relieve anxiety? Have you tried tea meditation? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.
About Michelle Cruz Rosado
Michelle Cruz Rosado is a professional speaker and bestselling co-author of "Pursuing Your Destiny: How to Overcome Adversity and Achieve Your Dreams." Follow Michelle for inspiring messages and quotes.