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What do tea-drinkers and monks have in common?

Posted by Guest blog by Andy from Headspace on 12th August 2014

What do tea-drinkers and monks have in common?

My name is Andy Puddicombe, and I’m one of the founders of Headspace. We’re a company that’s committed to making people healthier and happier through meditation. We do that, primarily, through our app, but we’re also always looking for new ways to bring a moment of mindfulness into people’s days.

‘That’s nice,’ you’re probably thinking, ‘but what does that have to do with tea? I want to read about tea.’

Well, I can understand that, this is the teapigs blog after all. But bear with me, it’s just possible that tea-lovers like you and practitioners of mindfulness like me have more in common than you might think.

Firstly, a word on mindfulness and meditation. They’re two different words, but they’re also sort of the same thing. Mindfulness is roughly defined as being in the moment, not lost in thoughts and feelings that take your mind elsewhere. Meditation, means sitting still for a short period, in order to exercise the mind in such a way that mindfulness becomes easier the rest of the time. You could think of meditation as a kind of concentrated version of mindfulness. Or mindfulness as meditation on-the-go.

There are lots of advantages to coming back into the present moment, but one of them is that it allows you to get a bit more perspective on the thoughts and feelings that are running through your head. And this is where I think tea-drinkers and meditators might just come together.

After all, when you make a cup of tea, what are you doing apart from taking time out from your day, a little pause that allows you to get perspective on everything else?

There’s also a very ancient belief that the practice of meditation isn’t just good for you, but for those around you. It gives you a little uplift, that helps you to spread happiness to the people who you come into contact with in your daily life. Isn’t that a bit like a cup of tea? Particularly if you’re making one for someone else too.

So since tea-drinkers and meditators have so much in common already, I’d like to suggest to you the idea of bringing the two together in your life.

It takes a few minutes to make a cup of tea, to boil the water, and brew your favourite teapigs flavour. Just that little interval is long enough to practice a little bit of mindfulness and even some meditation. So firstly just while the kettle is rumbling to a boil, rather than letting your mind wander, playing with your phone, or daydreaming, try closing your eyes, and listening to the sound it makes. Just try to be there, still and listening. That’s mindfulness - it really is as easy as that.

Now, you’ll need to open your eyes for this next bit. Pour the water over your favourite teapigs bag and wait for the delicious flavours to percolate (about three minutes ideally). Put the kettle down safely and once again, close your eyes but this time concentrate on your breathing. Breathe normally through your nose, and try to notice the breath passing in and out through the nostrils. Count the breaths, from one to ten. Don’t worry if you get distracted, just go back to number one.

Once you think your time is up, open your eyes again and take the bag out of the cup. And voila, that’s it, you’ve tried meditation, and you’ve made a delicious cup of teapigs tea into the bargain.

If you’re going back to work, you might find that your head is just a little bit clearer, and that you feel ever-so-slightly refreshed, that’s before you’ve even taken a sip of your teapigs brew.

Now that was just a taster, there’s obviously much more to meditation and mindfulness, but even with that simple exercise you’ve made a great start. If you would like to learn more, my suggestion would that you download the Headspace app, and try our free Take10 series. And look out for more Headspace content, right here on the teapigs blog.

Andy Puddicombe