Time for Tea

By Rudra Shivananda

blur close up coffee cup cup

Our minds become preoccupied with problems and accumulate stress without awareness of it even happening. I find that most people are suffering from a stress that slowly saps their will and their ability to live happily.

Stress is caused by worries of all sorts, such as about the future, the unknown, one’s finances, one’s relationships, one’s job security and a myriad of other things. Each of these emotional and mental stressors causes physical tension in one’s body which, if not released quickly, accumulates and becomes chronic. This chronic tension leads to fatigue and inability to sleep or relax that in turn leads to greater stress in a vicious cycle.

We can release the physical tension through exercise or relaxation techniques but it recurs because the underlying stress is still present. One needs to break the pattern of stress formation, and this can be done through meditation and breathing techniques. However, paradoxically, those who are under the greatest stress “do not have time” or are “too tired” to perform the techniques that can save them from the actual cause of their fatigue and inability to focus.

A practical and effective solution is to take time for a cup of tea! Consider the merits of the Japanese tea ceremony – concentration on the moment and integrating body and mind. Although I’m not suggesting anything so ritualistic or complex, the key to breaking stress is to take the mind off the thoughts which tend to be repeating over and over again the same patterns of distress. Any activity that engages all five senses can work but I find that a fifteen minute tea break can produce much of the benefits of hours of relaxation.

Coffee does not provide the same result due to the higher caffeine content which induces hyperactivity and stimulation of the mind. The best is herbal tea, but even normal green or black tea can be used. Choose tea that has a strong and pleasing aroma. Use tea leaves or even flower teas such as orange blossom rather than the tea bag. While the water is boiling, mentally repeat the following:

I am free from stress and worries

I am calm and contented

I am at peace in body and mind

Pour the hot water over the tea leaves and let it sit for two minutes. Watch the tea leaves settling and reacting to the water. Strain the tea leaves and pour your tea into a cup. Inhale the tea deeply several times. Put your right hand about half an inch over the cup and feel the steamy heat while repeating aloud for a minute or two, “Om shanti”.

When it is possible, try to sip the tea and feel the taste on your tongue and aroma when you inhale as you slowly drink, keeping awareness of your joy in the experience.

Take at least fifteen minutes. The best times are late afternoon and early evening. It is also good to try it in the morning when you have less stress and it is easier to perform this yogic tea ceremony for stress release.

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