Good Morning Yogis! Happy July! July is National Anti-Boredom Month. I originally planned a daily Asana practice challenge for July.. but after a recent trip home to Boston, I think we can benefit from a special Santosha and Mindfulness Month to align with this Anti-Boredom Month. I have heard if we focus on the past we will be depressed, if we focus on the future we will be anxious, and the key to joy is living in the present moment. A couple of the Yamas and Niyamas reflect this secret of happiness hidden in the “now”.
Mindfulness is central to a number of eastern religions and philosophies, and is becoming a common theme in western therapy, psychology, and self-help. We have also focused on mindfulness in some of our past daily practices, especially on past Santosha Days and with some focused meditation practices. Mindfulness and losing oneself in the current moment is my idea of “finding flow” that we most commonly experience during “getting in the zone” during particular athletic, work, and artistic activities. Zen Buddhism takes this concept further with Zen Arts such as Tea Ceremony, Archery, Painting, and Flower Arrangement. So, we will focus this month on trying different practices and activities to at minimum beat boredom for Anti-Boredom Month, and hopefully help you experience a flow state.
During a Japanese Religion course I took, we studied quite a few of the Zen Arts in detail. I was always completely fascinated with the Zen Tea Ceremony and the extreme attention to detail in everything from the whisked Matcha Tea, to the purification and meal before the ceremony, to the proper way to drink the Tea– turning the cup before sipping. A full discussion of this Zen Tea Ceremony is too much for our daily posts! You can watch a traditional ceremony (20+ min) and learn more about these traditions if you are interested, but you must have a teacher to truly understand this art. Still, enjoying tea and mindfully creating your own mindful tea ceremony is a fun practice to beat boredom. Other Tea ceremonies are common around the world from China’s older and less regimented Cha Dao to British afternoon Tea Time.
Today’s Daily Yogi Practice is to try today’s Anti-Boredom / mindfulness / flow Activity: Personal Tea Ceremony! Make sure to practice mindfulness and enjoy with all five senses. PS if Tea and especially if Matcha is not your thing, try your mindful beverage ceremony with another style of Tea recommended below, coffee, hot chocolate (with Marshmallow Fluff!), or another beverage of your choice!
Personalized Mindful Tea Ceremony
I love all kinds of Tea, and perhaps you can tell I am a bit of a Tea nerd… so try one of my many favorite styles of tea to create your own mindful Tea Ceremony – make sure to lovingly focus on preparing your special Tea, and enjoy it with all five senses!
- If you would like to try your own simplified version of the traditional Zen Tea Ceremony, make sure to get Matcha powder and a whisk set, and I recommend getting a special tea set for your ceremony or a special cup that will help set the mood. Please note that I LOVE Matcha, but the (bitter) taste is not for everyone. Although this would be my top choice for a traditional personal tea ceremony, I STRONGLY suggest trying Matcha from a cafe before deciding to invest in a Matcha-style Ceremony for yourself.
- Since Tea is originally from China, try your own Cha Dao style (The Way of Tea) mindful Tea Ceremony with a traditional Green Tea (decaf or caffeinated), Oolong Tea, Black Tea (“Red Tea” in China), or my personal favorite – Jasmine Green Tea. PS I am recommending my own personal favorites, not the traditional Chinese brands! I recommend getting a tea set in a style you enjoy with a filter, infuser, or diffuser if you find you love tea! Many specialty teas are loose-leaf not bagged and require a diffuser or infuser.
- Have a British afternoon Tea Time – with or without biscuits (cookies in the US)! Try Earl Gray or Black Tea with a drop of milk and tiny bit of sugar in the afternoon as is tradition (or I enjoy first thing in the morning instead of coffee). I recommend getting a tea set in a style you enjoy – but most British Teas are bagged, so English-style sets will NOT have diffusers! However, many specialty teas are loose-leaf not bagged, and will require a diffuser or infuser.
- I LOVE Chai, a spiced Black Tea latte from India. This is a very challenging tea to brew, so I recommend either trying from a cafe, using k-cups, or following a recipe for hot chai or iced chai latte. Make sure if you get a chai blend to add the milk of your choice (high fat is traditional) to counter the spice!
- Try a lighter White Tea. White tea is basically unprocessed baby tea leaves. It is very delicate in flavor, and lower in caffeine. I recommend getting a tea set in a style you enjoy with a filter, infuser, or diffuser if you find you love tea! Try pure White Tea or flavored White Tea. Many specialty teas are loose-leaf not bagged and require a diffuser or infuser.
- Perhaps my favorite tea is Red Tea or Rooibos. Up to now, all the various styles of tea listed above, bagged loose and powdered (except the herbal variety in the recommended specialty tea mix) have been from the same plant (pictured at the top of this section)! However, this Red Tea is from another plant, and is not caffeinated. I enjoy vanilla red tea (perhaps my absolute favorite tea) or plain red tea in my giant soup bowl mug, and I find no sugar is needed even with my sweet tooth. I recommend getting a tea set in a style you enjoy with a built-in filter, infuser, or diffuser if you find you love tea! Many specialty teas are loose-leaf not bagged and require a diffuser or infuser.
- Try Yerba Mate! This, like Red Tea above, is from another plant than the tea plant. However, Yerba Mate also has caffeine, and usually in higher concentrations than various styles of tea. Yerba Mate is South American herbal blend that is traditionally enjoyed in a social ceremony.
- Try an Herbal Tea or “herbal infusion” because technically a beverage is not Tea unless the Tea Plant is in the product! Whether or not these drinks are “Teas” many of these drinks have calming benefits like Camomile Tea or health benefits like Ginger Tea – to help you pick, check out Herbal Teas and benefits! The Classic Celestial Seasonings Herbal Teas (especially Sleepy Time) and Echinacea are my favorites. I recommend getting a tea set in a style you enjoy with a filter, infuser, or diffuser if you find you love tea! Many specialty teas are loose-leaf not bagged and require a diffuser or infuser.
- Take the visual experience up a notch with a Blooming Tea. I like Jasmine Green Tea best, or try Black Blooming Tea or a Blooming Tea mix. I recommend getting a tea set in a style you enjoy with a built-in filter, infuser, or diffuser (you will want clear glass and double-walled glass cups to best see your blooming tea) if you find you love tea! Many specialty teas are loose-leaf not bagged and require a diffuser or infuser.
Remember.. no matter what style of tea, coffee, or hot chocolate you select to create your own mindful Tea Ceremony – make sure to lovingly focus on preparing your special Tea, and enjoy it with all five senses!
Try to calmly take notice when your thoughts drift back to the past or forward to the future. Try to bring yourself back to and fully immerse yourself in the present moment by focusing on the sight, sounds, smells, taste, or feel of your surroundings.
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Please comment and share if you tried a Tea Ceremony today. Were you able to find flow or contentment in the now? Always remember, be kind!