Sometimes I get home from work and can feel overwhelmed by the amount of projects I’m working on, my household responsibilities, the bills that must be paid and planning for a meeting taking place the following day. I can’t switch off and just want my never-ending thoughts to stop. I’m so busy thinking about all these things that in the meantime, on autopilot, I have made a cup of tea and am halfway through drinking it without even realising how it got there! What a waste. The tea tastes good and is warming, but I’ve not even noticed the enjoyment of making or drinking it because I’ve been wrapped up in anxious thoughts. This is where Mindfulness comes in. When it all gets too much, we can each choose to press pause on our worries. After all, if we can’t change our situation then there is no need to worry. If we can change our situation, then great – there is also no need to worry. Instead, we have time to focus on the here and now and enjoy every moment of our lives.
So, instead of only noticing my tea halfway through drinking it, I could have made and drank it in a state of mindfulness. This means to perform the action with all my senses and being. I would first be aware and acknowledge my frustration. I would acknowledge too that I could not change my situation and that the emotion would pass. I would then choose to enjoy the present. The experience of making and drinking the tea would come alive! I would engage all of my senses in the very act of making tea. How many of you have simply made a cup of tea but not noticed or taken time to enjoy the process? You have missed a real opportunity to enjoy the moment! Here is my story of mindfully making tea and the tiny sensations that you may be missing on a daily basis 🙂
First I fill the kettle and listen carefully to the song of the water as it filled up the pot. I notice the bright metallic purple of my kettle and how just its colour makes me feel happy. I flick the switch to boil and feel the satisfying click of the button beneath my fingers. The kettle begins to crackle as it boils the water and I witness the water changing from liquid to steam as it unfurls into the air with small wisps of white.
I select my tea. Usually I enjoy a nice loose-leaf and at the moment I really enjoy Pandan Tea that my mother-in-law bought for me from Cambodia. It has spent time growing and travelled all that journey to be in my home, for me to enjoy. At one time, these leaves were growing on a tree, under the sun and drinking up the rain. The tree grew strong with the nutrients from the earth and the leaves became beautifully green and succulent. Then someone caringly plucked the leaves and dried them. The leaves were cut and placed into a cannister and delivered to a shop where it was packaged. Then it was selected and brought back to me in the UK. What a journey these leaves have been on and how lucky I am to get to enjoy the taste of them!
I open the packet, enjoying the rustling noise it makes and tip a couple of teaspoons of the leaves into my beautiful teapot. It is decorated with birds and flowers and was a housewarming gift I bought myself to enjoy my many cups of tea with. By then, the kettle has begun to whistle and I hear the click of the button and notice the light go out to indicate the water has boiled. I pour the water into the pot and watch its steady, glistening waterfall dive down onto the leaves.I allow the leaves to steep and I can smell its sweet aroma rise from the pot. I select a teacup that matches the pot and a metal tea strainer that sits perfectly inside the cup, as if it were made to fit.
I walk to the sofa, the Victorian floorboards of my cottage feeling sturdy beneath my feet. I sit on the soft sofa as I place the teapot and cup on the beautiful oak coffee table. I enjoy the neutral colours of the room, the mint-coloured stable door in my lounge, the fireplace and the bookcase. I slowly pour the golden liquid through the strainer and into my teacup. I gently blow upon the tea as I bring the cup to my mouth, noticing the ripples dance across the surface as the steam ascends and disappears into the air – reminding me of the impermanence of every moment. I breathe in the beautiful scent of the tea and take a sip. The taste is sweet and mellow. Calming. I feel the warmth spread throughout me. I feel the happiness fill me.
All this has happened and yet sometimes I can be so caught up in my own thoughts that I can be halfway through that cup of tea and notice none of the process or enjoyment that the simple act of making a cup of tea can bring. This is just one example, but how many more are we all missing out on? How much more deeply could we experience life through practising mindfulness?
The next time you make a cup of tea or eat a meal, take a walk, sit on the train or laze in bed, take a moment to practice mindfulness. You too can realise the treasures of every second of your life and hit the pause button on overthinking.