We lose focus of what truly matters
One of our biggest challenges today is to minimise the levels of stress in our daily lives. Hong Kong is no stranger to this, the glum faces on the morning MTR rides, the lack of general friendliness in daily encounters, the abundant and alarming statistics; all point to the fact that Asia’s world city is crumbling under devastating levels of anxiety.
At least 60% of the Hong Kong workforce feels ‘highly stressed’ from their jobs and 25% show levels of depression and anxiety – this is a whopping 250% higher than the global average. Let’s face it, living in a first-tier city has it’s perks. However, at the expense of one’s well-being and mental health, clearly reformations have to be made. Aside from the psychological hazards, being stressed means we lose focus of what truly matters. Our dreams and desires turn into distant echoes and we distract our attention towards the cult of technology – be it Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Email, and any other app that can momentarily be of instant use.
Mindfulness is the new superpower
When it comes to designing and living the life of your dreams – being happy and stress-free – every decision and every day matters. One highly powerful way to move forward and get out of a depressive/stressed/unenthused-about-life funk is through Mindfulness.
Mindfulness is an essential tool to use when it comes to creating what matters most to us. You can practise mindfulness in anything you do, whether it’s brushing your teeth, walking down the street or making a cup of Tea.
Mindfulness is a very simple form of meditation. It is the practise of paying attention – really paying full and complete attention – to the PRESENT moment, the NOW.
- No multi-tasking
- No super-gadget juggling acts
- No thoughts of the past or future.
You are completely aware with whatever is happening in this moment, you experience it fully, and you do so without judgement or expecting it to be like something else. This practice allows us to experience the present – the only moment in which we are truly alive in. As we begin to appreciate each moment for what it is – whether good or bad, we start to detach ourselves from worrying and begin to change our relationship with our experiences and start to trust in the knowledge that all will be okay.
Let’s give it a quick try: simple practice at its pure form
Here’s a quick exercise – just as you’re reading this – I’m going to remind you that you have a heart beat, literally you have a heart physically beating in your chest. I know you forgot but it’s okay. Now that your brain has gone to thinking about your heart, stop everything and start listening to it, feel your heart ‘beat’, knowing that it’s pushing blood all around your body, oxygenating all your organs. Do this for 15 seconds. Continue to allow you body to slow down and be still. Now, along with your heart beating, can feel yourself breathe too? Follow your inhale and flow with your exhale for a couple of breaths. Just be here now. It’s that simple – and incredibly transformative.
You can practise mindfulness any time, anywhere but settling into a morning ritual is a transformative tool that shifts the balance of stress to clarity, serenity and gratitude.
How you begin your day is usually how the rest of your day will go. If you wake up a little late and in a frenzy, you most likely won’t show up for the rest of the day in a mindful way as you will be rushing around to keep up. The first few moments of your day set your energetic frequency as our bodies shift from yin to yang, get present with each new day and connect to yourself before doing anything else.
This simple tea meditation is a beautiful and nourishing practice which brings a great sense of peace and relaxation. I suggest doing this every morning for one week or at the same time daily and notice the change in your feelings, reactions and anxiety levels.
Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. Live the actual moment. Only this moment is life.
-Thich Nhat Hanh
Tea was born in meditation
There is something very powerful about drinking Tea mindfully and using it for meditation. The act of making tea seems simple enough – boil water, add some leaves, steep and drink. But tea made with mindfulness is a dance of the elements, loaded with sensory experiences.
Tea was born in meditation. Discovered by the Daoists in China around 2000 years ago, the monks found that when they would drink tea, their meditations would be much more deeper, result in self-healing, inner harmony and increased clarity. They would transition into an awareness of feeling ‘Calm’ and ‘Awake’ – the two main qualities of Tea, which they found highly beneficial to other aspects of life.
8 easy steps to a mindful tea ritual
A tea ritual can be as simple as 5-10 minutes to 1-2 hours, but no matter how you choose to prepare your tea, drink your tea and clean up after – do it all in mindfulness with complete awareness of the present moment. From the way you pick up your cup, to how you fill the water, to how you place the cup down. Give yourself to the entire process of preparing and drinking your tea.
- Once you have made your Tea, hold the cup in both hands, simply sit with the Tea for a few moments.
- Focus your attention on the warmth you feel spreading from the liquid in the cup to your fingers and hands.
- Bring your face close to the cup and take a deep breath. Feel the warmth and steam across you face.
- Notice the aroma of the tea, admire the look and colour, imagine the tree from which it came from and the journey that is has taken to be in the delightful cup in front of you.
- Before you begin drinking, take a moment and give thanks, knowing that you are about to drink nature. The infinite amount of things that have gone in to creating this tea – living and non-living. The rain, clouds, soil, animals, sunlight, moonlight and so on. Reflect on all of this, understanding that this moment, and this tea, will never exist again.
- Take it slow, initially just place your lip on the edge of the cup but don’t take a sip. Notice the feel of the cup against your lip.
- Take a small sip, don’t swallow. Hold the liquid in your mouth for a few seconds and focus on the sensations: The taste, sweetness, bitterness, smoothness, the temperature. Feel it wash over your tongue and swallow.
- Take your time to drink, savoring each sip. Follow the liquid and heat moving down your body, find where the heat centers itself.
If any thoughts or feelings arise and if your mind wanders, simply acknowledge this without any judgment about yourself and gently bring your attention back to the present object of meditation.
Contributed by Resham Daswani.