Sitting cross legged on the floor, back straight for what seems like hours, trying to quieten our brains can have us dreading the mere thought of mediation. For this reason we may never give ourselves the opportunity to stop and be present with ourselves.
The purpose of mediation or mindfulness is to bring us back from the numerous distractions of modern day living and allow us to connect back with ourselves allowing increased awareness and connection to that feeling within us that makes us hum. The steady part of us.
This does not have to be done through sitting in silence. And below I will give you a step by step guide on how to do this whilst you enjoy a rejuvenating cup of tea.
You don’t need to strictly follow these steps like to-do list. The idea is to open yourself to the spirit of the practice. Sensing moment to moment what is happening and coming back to the tea whenever you notice you’ve drifted into thought.
In any mediation the purpose is not to have no thoughts, it is to not be stuck in these thoughts. Whatever comes up in your experience is okay — there’s no right or wrong thing to notice. Bring gentle awareness and no judgement to whatever emerges. Be conscious of how much the mind wanders, this is a sign of growing awareness.
Mediating with your tea
1. Start with the sound of the water heating and boiling in the kettle. Pay attention to its bubbling and gurgling. Notice the wisps of steam coming from the spout. Does the kettle subtly shake from the movement of the water inside? Be open to your senses, rather than try to analyse what’s happening.
2. Bring your attention to the feeling of being in that environment: the weight of your feet on the ground, if you’re standing, potentially the uncomfortableness in just being there. Do a quick body scan starting at your feet, moving up your body checking in with each part and sensing any discomfort.
3. As you pour the tea, watch the colour of the water change as the tea begins to infuse. Be interested in the change from clear water to tea. Listen to the tinkling of liquid as it fills the cup. Remember: When your mind wanders into thought, as it probably will, gently return your attention to the present, to sensing.
4. Feel the touch of the spoon handle against your fingers as you lift the teabag out. Feel the weight of the bag dropping away as you tip it into the bin. Let yourself hear sounds, such as the opening and closing of the bin lid. You may slip into autopilot – come back to present sensing when you find you’ve drifted to distraction.
5. If you are adding milk or sugar, pay attention how you feel as you reach and add these ingredients to your tea. Check in with yourself – Do you really want them? How do you know?
6. Find yourself somewhere to sit. Notice how this feels. Feel where your feet are. The backs of your legs. Your back against the chair. Notice the warm cup. How do your hands feel as you hold it?
7. As you bring the cup to your lips be interested in how your hand and arm know how to move without you consciously having to tell them what to do.
8. Take a sip of tea. Let the taste explore your tongue. Gently move the liquid around your mouth. Notice the taste. Ask yourself is it strong, weak or just how you like it? Be aware of the flavour and the liking or disliking of them.
9. As you swallow the tea, notice how you made that decision. Was it a conscious choice, or did it happen automatically? Feel yourself swallow, stay present to the reflex movements in the back of the mouth and feel it pass down the throat, trickling into the stomach. How did that feel?
Remember: Let thoughts enter into and then pass through your mind, don’t stay with them. Keep coming back to the present, to the room, to the tea.
10. As you continue to sip, taste and swallow the tea, notice how the liquid seems to disappear. Is there a point when the tea stops being separate from you? Recognise that moment.
11. Notice without judgement any impatience to finish, to rush the drinking. Check in and notice any feelings of irritation, or thoughts such as: Hurry up, I’ve got better things to do. Or maybe you feel peace and stillness. Where do you feel these sensations? Are your feelings changing moment to moment, or staying the same? Is there something else going on in your mind and body, pulling you into thoughts of the past or the future. Notice these thoughts and any changes.
12. Now take a look around you, notice your surroundings without judgement. Just be aware of any thoughts or feelings that come up.
13. Now, return your attention to the cup of tea in your hand. Feel the cup in your hand, notice the temperature. Watch as you decide when to begin the process of taking another sip. Continue to drink your tea until you have finished or you decide to stop drinking. If you choose to stop, be curious about what made you make that decision. Has the tea gone cold, has the taste changed, is there an impulse to get on with your next activity? (If the latter, what does that feel like? Is there a place in your body where you feel it most strongly?) In each moment, try to watch your decisions from an observer’s perspective.