The past few months were spent in stress. For me, stress became rather unfamiliar in the past 2 years since I left my office job and decided to fill my life with adventures in nature, like walking a pilgrimage or living off grid in a tent. What made this idyllic life turn upside down? I decided to move back to my home country for a few months to learn to drive and ended up with a driving license and TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) syndrome. TMJ is an umbrella term used to describe the many complications people suffer as a result of a malfunctioning temporomandibular joint and inflamed muscles. I received treatment in a hospital and for my biggest surprise my doctor advised doing face yoga exercises and meditation (since my TMJ is caused by severe stress). These helped him to relief his own TMJ when he had it.
While there are very few studies dealing specifically with meditation and TMJ symptoms, there are plenty that have found meditation to be an effective means for lowering stress and anxiety. In one study published in the journal, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, researchers found that meditation and other mindfulness practices such as yoga, positively impacted cortisol levels, anxiety, and stress. To be honest, you don’t need to suffer from any disorder to benefit from it, never wait to relieve stress until it’s too late.
But if you do have ailments, research by the University of Wisconsin-Madison scientists suggests that meditation helps people better tolerate chronic pain.
I bet until now, you imagined me sitting in lotus pose for an extended time period with an empty mind. Well, I hope not to disappoint but this meditation my doctor suggested was way more fun!
This meditation is a tea meditation.
I personally don’t know anyone who wouldn’t like tea. It makes us feel good, it gives us the warm fuzzies and allows us to ground and find our center. I love meditating for these same reasons. Linking the two and turning making and sipping on your tea into a meditation you can invite such groundedness into your life right in the morning that can help you deal with anything. Let’s get into the details of how to do it, shall we?
Choosing a Tea for Your Meditation
Choosing your tea blend is not something you need to overthink. Any tea could do. Personally, I love Earl and Lady Grey teas or a real loose leaf Chinese green tea—I mean real as it is actually from China and it’s not even similar to the ones I used to buy in the grocery stores. Try it! It’s fresh, and for some reason seeing and interacting with the tea leaves feels more intimate than tossing a bag of tea in my cup.
Choosing tea that is sustainably sourced and ethically produced will enhance the prana (life force energy) of your of tea, as well.
Though you can make your tea selection based on your intentions, too or create your own blend adding herbs or dried flowers to it. Bergamot, lavender and chamomile taste yummy. You can search the web for correspondences for your goals.
How to Perform Tea Meditation
Let the entire process, from start to finish, to be your tea meditation. We’re so busy in our daily lives, for some it seems crazy to squeeze in time to be present while making a tea, without checking your phone while the water is boiling. But really, leave your phone in the other room for this time and allow the next 5–10 minutes to be yours only.
- Pick your favorite mug for the meditation. Something that feels good to hold in your hands or you love it for any reason. I love to select the mugs too based on my intention, or what is calling me that day. Some days it’s my moms dainty, vintage teacup, other days the one I made at elementary school at a pottery class.
- Grab your kettle and add fresh water to it. As you wait for it to boil, take this opportunity to choose your tea and prepare the strainer.
- While you wait for the water to boil, close your eyes and take some deep, mindful breaths through your nose. Inhale for 4, exhale for 4 with no pause at the top or the bottom of the breath. Connect each inhalation and exhalation with a rhythmic flow. This pranayama soothes and nourishes the nervous system.
- Each tea is different, requiring different temperatures of water to boil with. To craft the perfect cup of tea, you may have to let your water rest for a few minutes.
- While your water is resting, continue to have awareness of your breath as you move through your tea meditation.
- Notice and release any tension in your body.
- When your water is at the perfect temperature, gently pour it over your leaves into your mug.
- Watch the leaves begin to expand (if using loose tea), releasing their colors.
- Notice the aroma that begins to fill the room from your mug.
- Pause in a moment of gratitude for the present moment.
- Once your tea is steeped, you may add sweetener, plant milk, or lemon juice.
- (Optional): as you stir your sweetener/milk/lemon juice in, imagine that you are infusing your tea with love and intention. You might want to repeat a mantra or affirmation as you do this.
- Your cup of tea is now ready. Deeply inhale and exhale as you acknowledge all of your senses. Notice the sensations as you take your first sip.
- Savor each and every sip, pausing to acknowledge how you’re feeling in between.
- If any emotions or thoughts come up, acknowledge them, thank them, and allow them to drift by.
- As you finish your tea, allow yourself to come back into your body. You can wiggle your toes or stretch your arms above your head for a stretch.
This tea meditation is nothing more but letting yourself concentrate on one thing at a time. You can apply this meditation to any task you do in the day, no matter how mundane. I like to do this while washing the dishes as well.
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Photo: Sergey Norkov via Unsplash