Get Mindful with Hot Chai
Are you busy? Do you feel a little stressed? You’re never too busy to find a moment to be mindful.
We’re all busy. Any time I ask someone how she is, invariably, she’s a little overwhelmed, a little stretched, and just plain busy. Of course, I’m really talking about myself, and the fact that I routinely sum up my existence with that oversimplified, uninformative word, “busy.” So, I’m trying to carve out moments for mindful focus, and let that busy “stuff” go.
You’re so much more than busy
So where exactly do we find time to break away from our cycling thoughts and worries, and take a moment of mindfulness? Perhaps place ourselves in the larger scheme of things, rather than in the minutiae of daily tasks? Of course, it would be great if we all meditated every day.
I even took a mindfulness course this Spring, and meditated almost every day for the whole eight weeks of study. Everyone in the class felt so much better when we took that half hour every day. Despite out best intentions, I’m sure I’m not the only one who hasn’t kept up the habit.
But my meditation teacher said it best: “You always have time to take a breath.”
Just a breath, if you do it right, can separate you from the monkey mind that chatters in your head all day. Just breathe.
Let it all go for a moment
I’ve come up with my own little practice, if you’ll indulge me. All it takes is a cup of hot tea. You can make the chai recipe I’ve provided, and that will add a warm, exotic scent to your mindfulness exercise. But you can just grab a cup of joe from the office pot, or pour hot water over a slice of lemon, if that’s your thing.
As long as it’s hot.
So here’s how I step away from my busy mind for just a few minutes, when I really need to let it go.
Pour yourself a mugful of hot chai. Sit down, grasping the hot mug with both hands to feel the warmth, and press the warm mug to your solar plexus. Breathe.
Focus on your breathing for a minute or so, just breathe in the scent of the tea , breathe out. If thoughts arise, focus back on your breath and let the thoughts pass away, you can even imagine they are floating away with the steam drifting up from your cup. As you focus on your breath, focus on the warmth of the cup, and the surfaces of your palms and chest that are warmed by it.
Breathe in the scent, feel the mug, and really pay attention to it. Keep letting your thoughts fall away, and don’t worry about anything. Just focus on the warmth, and the tea.
Take a sip occasionally.
In this moment, just be present, not thinking about the past, or the future, just about this warm, fragrant cup resting against your center. It’s enough.
Right now, you are feeling the comfort and warmth of a hot drink. If you expand your thoughts outward, imagine that some of your neighbors are also enjoying a hot drink, and feeling just as you do. Expand to your whole neighborhood, and then your town, and on and on. Right now, you are sharing in a basic human sensation, with millions of people. Every one of us needs this comfort, right now.
It makes all your worries seem smaller, doesn’t it?
By the time the tea starts to cool, you may want to get back to doing something else. But you’ll feel better, after taking a moment to just be in the moment.
I hope that you’ll give yourself just a few minutes of stillness, and enjoy my recipe for chai. Mindfulness works.
Homemade Chai Masala and Mindful Chai
- 4 teaspoons ground cardamom
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 teaspoons ground ginger
- 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 5 cups water
- 4 teaspoons masala above
- 2 tablespoons black tea leaves or your favorite
- 1 cup milk of choice
- 1/2 cup honey or other sweetener to taste
- Make masala of ground spices and whole fennel seeds. Mix well and store tightly covered.
- For tea, put masala and water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer, add the milk and vanilla if using, return to the boil, add tea and steep for 4 minutes off the heat. Strain the tea and stir in honey to taste.