There is always something about a good cup of tea. Sweet, smooth, a rich bitterness balancing the sweet. The different notes of the tea leaves, the roasting process, the temperature of the boiled water –all the small but significant steps all add up to a lot of tastiness.
In mindfulness, there are also small but significant steps that help make your practice tasty and good. As humans, we are often creatures of habit, the consistency of where you sit and when you sit in mindful meditation can help create a sweet, smooth and rich time. I like to sit in two places: on the carpeted floor by my bed and then on the small couch in my office.
On stressful days I take time to sit in each place. Like roasting tea leaves, the first thoughts that bubble up in my mind are exposed wafting up and then like vapor, disappearing. I sit some more, allowing the simmering process to do its work. Its amazing what happens.
There may be a word that I know is from the divine. “Quiet”, “Together”, “Thank you” are themes of these times. I know that as I sit and create space for God to move, I am more connected with God through the power of the Holy Spirit. This time is tasty, blissful, peaceful.
The time flies by. My 10 or 15 minutes is up. I can attend to the day ahead. With scripture etched in my heart and mind and soul, with me being attuned to the presence of God (I know He is always there, I just need to remember!) the day ahead or the day’s end is full of flavor. Tasty tea.
Green tea is known for its health benefits. An oncologist once told a client of mine to drink four cups of green tea as part of her post-chemo prescription for health.
A healthy lifestyle is one that we many of us strive toward. We endeavor to eat less meat, choose to drink tea instead of sodas and promise to exercise regularly. A mindful lifestyle goes hand-in-hand with such efforts as we recognize that the stuff we choose not to eat anymore are not as important to our happiness and wellbeing as we once thought. As the scriptures say in Romans 12, for Christians, “we should offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.”
Many of us have also tried to not just tackle our health but our living spaces. In fact, with the growing popularity of minimalism, many of us recognize that in order to have a more meaningful life, we must pare down materially. That closet full of shirts we don’t like anymore? The gobs of time spent staring at smart phones? We want to purge ourselves and start anew.
Mindfulness can help us in our efforts but is not another add-on in our path towards a lifestyle of health but should be considered a holistic endeavor. The buddhist practitioners that I have met have said that every effort we make in mindfulness reverberates through the whole system–our bodies, to our loved ones and then to the world around us. They believe that our very thoughts are powerful enough to bring compassion peace, and ultimately, Nirvana, to the world.
As a Christian, I wonder what would happen if I was truly “transformed in the renewing of [my] mind”? I have seen in little ways how mindfulness helps me to be more compassionate because God reminds me that He is a God of justice but also of great love, mercy and compassion. My physical and material paring down and choosing a healthy lifestyle is simply an echo of the whole system that needs to be addressed. I can choose to drink tea instead of sodas (this part isn’t hard for me) but can I bring my thoughts more in alignment with compassion and mercy day-in and day-out? As I have shared before, the latter can be more difficult. The intention I have set for myself in my mindfulness practice is to have God help me be more compassionate, which is part of a healthier lifestyle for the mind.
With the mug of green tea in my hand, echoes of God reverberate throughout the whole system, “The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of God’s hand…Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” (Psalm 19: 1-4)