Science of Rituals
Anything that you do where you are focusing 100 percent on your present experience can be considered meditation, and it is common knowledge at this point that meditation does wonders for our mental space and well-being. Sometimes it is difficult to fit in a “formal” meditation session. This is okay. There are plenty of ways to incorporate the stillness and mindfulness of meditation into your daily life so that you can still reap the benefits of this practice. Anything that is a ritual in your life can be made into a meditative practice (brushing your teeth, doing your hair or makeup, cooking your meals, etc.). As long as you are present, you are taking your time, and you are one hundred percent focused on the task, you are engaging in mindfulness.
One way to practice this is through a morning or evening routine that includes a hot beverage. We’re going to talk about tea, because there are so many types and it is more beneficial for you, but your morning coffee can work for this time as well.
By focusing on your experience and being entirely present in this moment you are allowing yourself some space from the rush of life. It is so easy to get caught up, but for own own good we need to take time to slow down.
Some mental and emotional benefits you may experience from continuous practice are;
- Ability to view stressful situations differently
- Better management of stress
- Increased self-awareness
- Reduction of negative emotions
- Reduced anxiety
- Better sleep
And some research backed health benefits;
- Ability to better manage persistent asthma/ reduced asthma symptoms
- Better ability to cope with cancer-related stress and therefore increased effectiveness in treatment
- Improvement of anxiety and depression
- Positive effects of the cardiovascular system including lower blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol.
- Reduction of well-known psychological risk factors for heart disease such as anxiety, depression and hostility.
- Possible reduction of pain in the body
- Reduction of sleep problems in people with chronic insomnia.
You can target some of these ailments through use of herbs as well. We will talk about the tea mixes that we make today, but you can always look into mixes for yourself. Just make sure you are reading from a reputable source and are using quality herbs.
- Put water on to boil. It is best to use filtered water but you do not need to be picky.
- Measure out your herbs. Respect these plants by only using the determined measurement of each. These plants are giving their lives to better your health, use them wisely.
- Decoct (boil/simmer) the required herbs, and add the infusion herbs to your tea making equipment (french press, tea ball infuser, teapot, mason jar, etc.).
- Pour boiling water over the herbs and let steep for the described time in the recipe.
- Pour into cups and make a cup to give back to the earth (optional).
- Add honey, lemon, or milk to taste.
This practice does not need to be anything formal. You can bring a journal along if you wish or you can simply use this time of stillness as an opportunity for contemplation. It is what you make it. Choose what is right for you.
Find a quiet place (meditation room, kitchen table, outside, etc.) Come to a comfortable seated position.
Close your eyes and take a deep, clearing breathe. Smell the fragrant steam rising from your tea. Feel the cup in your hands. The warmth radiating from the tea into your palms and up your wrists into your arms. What scents do you smell? How does it make your sinus passages or other parts of your body feel? Take note of this feeling. Focus on it for a moment.
Take a sip and notice the taste in your mouth. Is it salty, sweet, pungent, sour, bitter, or something else? It is light or heavy? Is it dry or moist? What other tastes do you notice?
Continue to sip and notice how the tea makes you feel. Is it warming or cooling? Where do you feel it in your body? Let yourself feel the power of these plants. Continue to sip and to breathe.
You may open your eyes now if you wish. Take in the sounds and the sights around you. Embrace gratitude for this stillness. Take a moment to once again notice your cup’s warmth in your hands. If you’d like, take this moment to set an intention for the rest of your day.
When you are ready, come out of your stillness. You are now ready to go along with your day.
This meditation and practice can be done with any tea you’d like, and some might argue that it is best to work with a single herb tea, but if you want to mix it up here is a combination that I enjoy.
1 tsp Nettle Leaf
1 tsp Peppermint
1/2 tsp Catnip
1 TBS honey
Bring water to boil. Remove from heat and add herbs. This can be done in a steeping pot or a tea ball or simply in a Mason Jar. Let steep for 15 to 30 minutes. Enjoy hot or chilled.