What is a mindful tea meditation?
If you're new to mindfulness you may be wandering what the heck a tea meditation is. Bear with me, this is a simple practice that doesn't take much time. You don't even need to sit in the lotus position.
As parents we often lack the time to sit and meditate. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be on the go most of the day, just stopping for a couple of minutes to grab a cup of tea or coffee. We also take our drinks for granted and don’t notice the sensory experience of drinking our tea or coffee. Most of the time it ends up going cold as our attention is pulled towards other things – kids whining, fighting, needing a nappy change or the toilet.
The raisin exercise
One of the most basic exercises that mindfulness participants are asked to do, is the Raisin Exercise. This practice involves taking a raisin and really taking the time to look at it, to feel its texture, its smell and taste. This can feel a little strange but it’s also an eye-opener for those of us who rush about in our daily lives without really noticing the detail. In fact, we’re so often operating on autopilot that we miss out on a lot of things that would enrich our lives. These are the small details that might sound silly –the dew drops on the tips of branches during winter, the smell of a shrub on the first day of spring, or your youngest child’s delightful squeal when he or she sees something funny.
I’ve tried the raisin exercise, and yes, it felt kind of odd. But, so often we shovel in handfuls of these dried fruit without knowing what they taste like that to actually taste it made me realise this point - and that I don't really like the taste of raisins!
The Mindful Tea Meditation
A great technique I’ve come across that is just perfect for busy parents, is the mindful tea meditation (or coffee if you prefer!). You’ll probably be powering yourself through the day with cups of caffeine so why not take a couple of minutes to sit and really experience that drink, bring some mindfulness to it.
You’ll not only be giving yourself a much needed break from the daily grind (even if only for a few minutes), you’ll be practising mindfulness and learning how to focus your attention and awareness.
Here’s how to do a mindful tea meditation
- Pick a time when you know you’ll have a few minutes undisturbed. Maybe the little ones are napping, at nursery, or watching their favourite cartoon.
- Make a conscious effort to bring your awareness to the process of making your drink. Notice the feel of the cup and smell or look of the teabag or coffee granules. Listen to the sound of the water boiling in the kettle and the sound of the water as you pour it into the cup.
- You can even sit and focus on your breathing while the kettle boils or the teabag steeps. Pay attention to your in breath and follow the breath out.
- If you take milk or sugar, notice how the colour or smell of your drink changes as you add to it. Try to focus on the sensations of what you’re seeing, smelling or hearing rather than using words to label items or feelings.
- Now your drink is ready. As you take the first sip, smell your drink – what scents can you identify? Tempting as it may be, avoid gulping your drink down. Instead, get a feel for the different flavours as they cross your taste buds. Coffee apparently has over 30 flavours and tea, more. See if you can taste some of them. Do they taste sweet? Bitter? Malty?
- Once you’ve appreciated the smells and flavours, swallow that sip and notice how your mouth feels. Does your breath feel cold and your mouth warm, for instance?
- Repeat for several more sips. Try to take at least three minutes and afterwards, note how you feel. Did the drink taste different to normal?
This is such a great exercise to do, and you can do it once a day if you like. This will help you to practise mindfulness and bring your attention to what you’re doing in the moment. Try it with different flavour teas and coffees and see if you can notice the difference between them – you might even become a connoisseur! Or at least a bit more aware of the little things in your daily life and how they can give you that mental space away from the constant mind chatter and planning.
How did you get on with your tea meditation? I’d love to hear how you found it – leave a reply below and share your experience with fellow parents.