By GMB Doctor Sandy Krafchik.
Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing your awareness on the present moment, while acknowledging your feelings, thoughts, and sensations objectively. It is often used as a therapeutic technique as it slows things down and immerses you into the present moment, thereby resting the analytical mind. Mindfulness means paying attention to, and experiencing the world directly with, the 5 senses - feeling, touching, seeing, hearing, and tasting. It is a powerful tool to help us understand and deal with our emotions in a calm manner. It helps us to change our usual responses by making us pause and choose how we act.
Incorporating mindfulness into everyday activities such as preparing and drinking a cup of tea is a good way to develop this practise of tuning into your senses. Preparing loose leaf tea involves adding the loose leaves into an infuser in a teapot and adding boiling water. I Am Awesome tea from Teas.com.au is a combination of loose leaf Black Tea (Camellia Sinensis) and Cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia) and is a great choice. It takes more time and care to prepare loose leaf tea as opposed to using tea bags. By repeatedly redirecting your mind to the various aspects of tea preparation and drinking, you are developing the ability to focus.
5 different ways you can be mindful with tea
- Listen to the sound of the water boiling in the kettle. See the steam escaping from the spout.
- Notice the feeling of being in your environment: your body’s contact with the chair or the floor.
- Pouring the water into the teapot, see the colour of the water change as it infuses the tea leaves. Notice the transformation from clear water to tea.
- Pour your tea once steeped and hear the sound. Hold the teacup and feel the warming effect on your hands. Smell the aroma of the tea in your cup.
- Take a sip of tea and taste it in your mouth before swallowing. Savour the taste. Feel the reflex movements at the back of the mouth and throat as you swallow and the movement of liquid down into the stomach.
Why practicing mindfulness is important:
Mindfulness meditation has been shown to have numerous health benefits including:
- decreases stress - mindfulness is a key element to fighting stress. Improving emotional regulation, resulting in improved mood and ability to handle stress. Mindfulness induces a state of relaxation
- Increases immune function (improved ability to combat disease)
- Decreases blood pressure
- Decreases heart rate
- Increases awareness/attention and focus
- Increases clarity in thinking and perception
- Decreases anxiety levels
- Improves general health
- Improves sleep
- Decreases chronic pain
- Decreases risk of heart attack and stroke
- Increases telomerase (an enzyme which adds short, repetitive “caps” to our DNA strands) which can reduce cell damage and lengthen lifespan.
- Effective (in combination with other treatment modalities) in treating many common mental health conditions
- An effective supplemental treatment for depression.
By slowing down and focusing on the various aspects of preparing and enjoying your daily cup of tea you can practise and hone your mindfulness skills and reap the health rewards associated with it.
Mindful. 2018. How to Be Mindful with a Cup of Tea - Mindful. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.mindful.org/mindful-cup-tea/. [Accessed 31 July 2018].
Psychology Today. 2018. Benefits of Mindfulness | Psychology Today. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/compassion-matters/201303/benefits-mindfulness. [Accessed 31 July 2018].
The 23 Amazing Health Benefits of Mindfulness for Body and Brain (+ PDFs). 2018. The 23 Amazing Health Benefits of Mindfulness for Body and Brain (+ PDFs). [ONLINE] Available at: https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/benefits-of-mindfulness/. [Accessed 31 July 2018].
Psychology Today. 2018. 10 Ways Mindfulness and Meditation Promote Well-Being | Psychology Today. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201504/10-ways-mindfulness-and-meditation-promote-well-being. [Accessed 31 July 2018].