Mindfulness Tea Ritual
There is no doubt that rituals play a significant role in the lives of human beings.
It is demonstrated that small but frequent moments of self-care and goal realization bring a much greater consciousness effect than isolated occasions like annual holidays or random celebrations. Moreover, shifting priorities, disconnecting from unnecessary obligations and deliberately resting can significantly boost your quality of life.
At first glance, routine and ritual seems to be identical, but the difference is based on the sense of meaning given to the actions. Whereas routine is the repetitive habit of doing things, some of them even automatically, ritual is being present and mindful in whatever we do. It is creating a peaceful moment of inner connection with a purpose.
Rituals are symbolic actions loaded with intention, meaning and purpose which encourage a state of focus, clarity and emotional balance.
Rituals come in a wide range of shapes and meanings. Regardless of religion and cultural settings, humans perform rituals with the intention of achieving desired outcomes. From calling for rain in periods of drought, to boosting confidence before going through high-pressure tasks- such as exams or competitions- rituals do not only reduce anxiety and stress levels, but also alleviate grieving after experiencing losses and increase people’s determination and courage.
Research about the psychological meaning of rituals points out that “Across domains, important events are often preceded or marked by the presence of rituals. In this way, rituals appear to play an important role in preparing a person for a context that is motivationally relevant, such as when athletes engage in preperformance rituals to prepare for a game, students use study rituals to prepare for an exam, or people ceremoniously complete a morning tea ritual to prepare for the workday. Rituals energize and stimulate a person’s actions, motivating them toward current and future goals by bringing attention to the regulatory context and heightening feelings of personal involvement.” (1)
In other words, rituals can have a causal impact on people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. This is the reason why many of them are effective.
A practice for everybody & every day.
Simply pouring hot water over any tea bag is a common practice like any other, however, for many cultures and individuals around the world, the daily act of preparing and drinking tea in a meaningful way is a sacred moment of the day which brings a positive predisposition, harmony and gratitude.
In fact, over many generations, countries like China, Japan and Morocco have developed formalised traditional ceremonies as part of their “tea culture” that call for respect, tranquillity and joy while appreciating the tea with all senses.
However, ritual does not mean that you have to perform a large and elaborated sequence of actions every time. For those who are looking for a home-made tea ritual, the process can be simpler, bespoke and the results will remain effective as soon as intention and focus is brought to the present.
Building a ritual: Turning something small into a mindful experience.
You begin constructing a ritual by defining the purpose of it. Brainstorming of ideas and then limiting your options according to your needs on a piece of paper is just the very first step. Once your ideas are recorded, refine down the most important to a single sentence.
1 - Choose a tea ware that has a significance to you. It could be a tea cup that has been a gift from someone who cares about you. Or a tea pot that has been in your family for years and has collected many memories with your loved ones. It also could be just a new tea cup with colours and designs that you really like. Finally, this may also include pieces that reflect traditional methods of celebrating tea in ancient cultures such as Japanese, Chinese, Turkish and Indian.
In short, choose your favourite mug or tea brewing set.
2 - Space design. Whereas for some people this moment could take place in a busy tea house, most of us will choose a quiet-atmosphere place free of distractions that may interrupt the ritual. Choose a comfortable seat or cushion to sit on and make sure you will be in a well-aerated place where energy can easily flow. Lastly, natural light or soft lighting from lamps/candles plus essential oils or incenses will help in creating the right environment.
Listening to music from a playlist that has been already created for these particular moments can stimulate the desired state of mind.
3 - Think about the right time of the day that will allow you to be present in the moment. If in the morning to start the day with positive energy, or in the afternoon for boosting productivity and motivation to go through with renewed energy, or in the evening/night time for winding down and getting you ready to sleep. In this last case, caffeine-free herbal infusions with chamomile, valerian root and lavender may help to finish the day in a soothing and gentle way.
It is important to be self-aware to make it accordingly to your body's, soul's and mind's needs.
4 - Choose the right tea for your intention. Loose leaf quality tea is the best option for tea rituals.
Caffeinated teas, such as black tea, work better in the morning and afternoon whereas low caffeine teas such as Japanese Hojicha or herbal tisanes are better for evening/night.
The steps in preparing loose leaf tea will allow you to appreciate the before and after process of adding water when it comes about observing the shape of leaves, texture, smell and colour.
Stay present in every part of the process: steeping, brewing, sipping and savouring. Using the five senses will make it to be a precious time.
5 - Be flexible and gentle. It is a fact that rituals follow steps, organized stages and structured ways to be carried out. However, nothing has to be set in stone. If an unpredicted situation has shown up, just make it whenever suits you better for that circumstance. Tea rituals are in your life to make it more enjoyable, not to give you more duties to accomplish. Be friendly and generous with yourself, because this is what it is all about.
Tea rituals are a powerful tool
- Making time for a tea ritual encourages people to set a balanced level of self-awareness and surroundings. Moreover, they promote self-care due to the wide variety of health benefits.
- Because tea rituals are often an invitation to get friends and family together, many memories can be created around a tea cup. It is a gentle gesture of sharing with others.
- Tea rituals are a universal language of unspoken communication that is well appreciated in many cultures around the world.
- Tea rituals can be turned into a meditation moment where focus and introspection are developed.
- Improves attention and sense of optimism.
Living calmly and simply in a fast-paced world is becoming a challenge for many people who are constantly involved in “to-do” routines, so that having a busy lifestyle left little time available for slowing down, and keeping the energy moving in an ongoing dialogue with yourself and surroundings.
Therefore, drinking tea can be transformed into an act of creating a scenario where significant and intentional experiences are worth to carrying out every day.
(1) N M. Hobson, J Schroeder, J L. Risen, D Xygalatas, M Inzlicht. “The Psychology of Rituals: An Integrative Review and Process-Based Framework”. The Society for Personality and Social Psychology. Psychology Department, University of Toronto. 2017.