I am sure by now that you have heard the word ‘hŷɡɡə’, which by definition (on Wikipedia at least) is a Danish and Norwegian word for a mood of ‘coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment”. But have you heard of ‘Onthaasten’? I certainly hadn’t until now. I have a feeling that this word will soon be as well known and it actually means is ‘de-hurry, something we are being encouraged to do more and more. In this fast paced world of digital technology, fast food, 24 hour shops, 24 hour gyms and same-day deliveries, we can often forget to take a few breaths and stop for a moment. When was the last time you held a hot drink and cupped your hands around it, took small gentle sips and savoured the taste, the smell and perhaps took the time to take in your surroundings?
As a coffee lover, this is a favourite morning ritual of mine and one that includes making the coffee in a traditional stove-top coffee pot. I love the look of the coffee pot, washing it, the aroma from the coffee canister and how it fills the kitchen the smell of fresh coffee when it comes to the boil. From reading about Onthaasten (which I’m reliably informed is pronounced on-tasst-en), I then went on to find out more about ‘The Slow Movement’. I found that it originated from a huge protest about McDonalds opening in Rome near a very popular piazza. In 1986, Carlo Petrini was so incensed by this fast food concept that he set up a movement to promote traditional ingredients, farmer’s markets, organic food and local dishes. All of the things that we have started to fully embrace, particularly in the last decade.
Fashion is also known for its frequent revisiting of past decades, and the rise in popularity of vintage clothing feeds this desire to be different, as well as promoting the increasing awareness of sustainability. Other comebacks are vinyl records, baking, knitting, analog photography, vinyasa yoga (slow yoga) and letter writing. All have the commonality of taking time to do something and, yes, intentionally slowing down to appreciate the moment. Another book I read about in Flow magazine was ‘In Praise of Slow” by Carl Honore, and rather than tell you about the author myself, here is his TEDx talk about his observations and book. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhXiHJ8vfuk
He actually mentions ‘speed yoga’. I’ve heard of speed dating, speed networking and speed reading, but wow…speed yoga, that really is a contradiction!!! or is it…watch the talk?
What does slowing down do, and what do we really mean by taking things at their intended speed? It means that, as well as appreciating the moment, we will make room for more creative ideas such as reading and taking notes, drawing or doodling, colouring in, kneading bread, planting those seeds or maybe, simply washing up. It means our minds will slow down and our senses will be heightened. It’s worth remembering that this isn’t all about our time at home life, it is about business too. How many times do you feel that you have to respond to a text or email immediately, fearing that if you do not, then something may be missed, or a client won’t think you’re on the ball? Have you considered that they might think you’re not busy or that they may get used to your fast turn around and expect it every time? Either way, by not allocating specific times to responding regularly, rather than immediately (using some common sense if it’s urgent or an immediate deadline) will eventually lead to unnecessary, or what I term as ‘fake stress’.
I am becoming increasingly aware of how much technology has advanced, and find it simultaneously exciting and a time-drainer. Most of us have heard of having a ‘digital detox’ akin to giving up alcohol, sugar, coffee or chocolate for a set amount of time, well coffee would be a real challenge for me. What would you find hard? You probably know, prior to lockdown, from walking down the street, sitting in cafes, pubs or travelling on public transport or since lockdown with home work and restricted travel, how much screen-time is taking over our lives!
I am increasingly tired of typing and I going back to making voice calls, writing with a pen and, instead of leaving messages via voicemail, I am using voice texts. I find it much better than leaving a message on an answer phone, which would require the receiver to dial into a different number to access them. When we need information, the days of leafing through large hardback heavy reference books are dwindling. The conscious activity of the written letter, using your favourite pen and paper had almost disappeared, but I am glad to both witness and hear that it is making a comeback. In my experience, although writing with a pen takes a lot more effort, I enjoy giving it my full attention and taking pleasure in forming the letters in an artistic way. When we discuss using our screen time for social media and its ability to connect, there is a plethora of opinions, both positive and negative. Social Media has become a place of unconscious and time consuming activity for some. One way of decluttering the mind involves consciously reviewing your screen time on a weekly basis. My iPhone regularly informs me too, which is sometimes quite alarming.
How many times have you scrolled through one of the many social platforms and wondered how time can disappear very quickly, yet the last ten minutes of school or work seemed an eternity? Again, I believe that when we are ‘clock watching’ we are consciously aware, whereas scrolling is unconscious. Why not make room in your busy schedule to do something other than look at a screen? Plan some time away from it and log out of apps you regularly use like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and turn off the notifications. Arrange to meet a friend for coffee (social distancing applied), a walk or call them if they are far away and catch up in conversation. Try not to use your phone as a morning alarm, although I know some find this is difficult for those who don’t have landline to fall back on it, in case of an emergency. At least put it face down.
Start looking out of the window on public transport. I think one of the reasons I have grown to love train journeys is that there is an opportunity to work, rest and play. The longer the journey the better, because now and again you can look out of the window and lose yourself in the landscape. Listen to a podcast or music in the car, write a letter while having your coffee, read a short story and simply be present when you’re out for a walk, run or cycle. After spending some time in Italy, France and Spain, I’ve noticed that it really is about taking time over those everyday processes and using the fast lane only when it’s absolutely necessary. Write a letter to yourself on mini break or holiday and then post it, tapping into what you see, hear, taste and feel.  It’s a lovely way to relax and a reminder of some nice memories.  (Note – send this home only if you are feeling happy on holiday. If you’re not, write it and destroy it, it’s a good cathartic exercise.) With Simon & Garfunkel telling me to “slow down, you move too fast, got to make the moment last” in my head. I will now take heed of my own advice and finish this blog to go have some lunch away from my desk and in a comfortable part of the house, preferably next to a window.

Tea and Mindfulness – How to make mental wellness an everyday activity

Tea and Mindfulness – How to make mental wellness an everyday activity

When you have a full and busy life, and who doesn’t, building small moments of mindfulness into your lifestyle can really help to balance the mind. If I suggested meditating for an hour 5 times a week could help you to feel calmer, think clearer and be energised you would probably believe me, but, finding 5 hours a week can seem impossible! Which means you try it for a week or two and then slowly forget you are supposed to be doing it at all apart from brief guilty flashes. The idea of building mindfulness in with tea is that you take a moment to centre yourself by fitting it into the lifestyle you already have.

What is mindfulness?

The concept is devastatingly simple. It is so easy to be caught up in doing and reacting and living inside our heads and not really noticing the impact on our minds and bodies. Mindfulness is the simple act of stopping your life for a moment and directing your thoughts to be aware of that moment. Become aware of the light, sounds smells and the environment you are in. Once you see the present moment clearly you can use this to reconnect with your body. Take time to acknowledge how you are feeling; physically and mentally. Take control of your thoughts, name your feelings “this is Anxiety”. Slow your thought stream and be conscious of the individual thought one by one. Be aware of how each thought is making you feel. 

How can Mindfulness help?

Mindfulness is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) as a way to prevent depression in people who have had three or more bouts of depression in the past. There are loads of other things that science has found mindfulness helps with, here are just some.

  • Enhances mental health and functioning
  • Increases emotion regulation and self-control
  • Decreases anxiety, depression, worry, and rumination
  • Decreases stress and psychological distress
  • Reduces the incidence of problem drinking and symptoms associated with problem drinking
  • Enhances academic achievement in students
  • Improving social and relational skills
  • Reducing burnout
  • decreases in staff turnover
woman meditating with tea

woman meditating with tea

Mindfulness can help you to enjoy the world around you more and understand what makes you tick. Once you acknowledge the thoughts and how they make you feel you can look for patterns. For instance “If I think about money I get anxious and panicky” this slow down can lead to some personal revelations “then I distract myself with food”. You can make the link between these thoughts and the drivers for your emotion and behaviour. Even if at that time you have no way to fix the anxieties around money you can control how you react to it. Ask yourself if your reaction is helpful or harmful. You can then plan ways to better help yourself or ask others for help.

Some people find it very difficult to begin practising mindfulness. They find that when they focus on what they are thinking all the negative thoughts and worries crowd in. It is important to remember that we are not trying to stop these thoughts. We are reframing them as mental moments. If this happens for you try imagining your thoughts as water running from a tap. Turn the tap to slow the thoughts, then each drop of water is a thought. Acknowledge them but don’t try to catch them. Let most of them just drip down and fall out of sight down the drain. Catch one or 2 perhaps if they are interesting or impactful for you. This can be difficult at first but with practice, it gets easier.

When and where can I practice mindfulness?

The joy is you can practice this anywhere and at any time. The real question is when is it most helpful? If you realise you have spent some time trapped by reliving past events or worrying about events that may be happening in the future then use mindfulness to escape the trap. In the early stages, it can also be very helpful to set aside a time to engage with your mind each day. We strongly believe that this should be made as accessible and achievable as possible so that it is easy to keep up the habit day to day. It is also recommended to do everyday tasks in a slightly different way to help you to notice the world.

Tea and Mindfulness

This is where tea comes in. At some point during the day, most people will make a hot drink. Seize this as your mindful moment. If you are in a rush this can be as short as 10 min but if you can take a little longer we recommend it.

What do I need?

You will need:

Loose leaf tea – pick something to suit your mood or health needs. Ask us if you would like recommendations

Kettle – unless you want cold-brewed tea served with iced

A teapot or teacup – preferably glass so you can really see the leaves swimming and dancing

Tea strainer – If you don’t like leaves in your finished drink

A chair – to mindfully drink the tea.

What to do.

  1. Empty the kettle and fill with fresh water from the kettle. Put the kettle on to boil. Notice the sound of the water, the weight change in your hand.
  2. Look at the instructions on the tea and add the right amount of tea to the cup or pot. Take time to smell the tea and notice the ingredients. Can you see the different pieces?
  3. While you wait for the kettle to boil just check on your breathing. Ensure you are being mindful. Look out of the window if you have one. Notice how the light is touching the world.
  4. Add the water at the correct temperature to the pot or cup. Notice all the different pieces of the tea dashing about in the water. Look at what floats and what sinks. Be aware of the smells and the water changing colour.
  5. While the tea brews for the next few minutes sit or stand and watch it. Watch the gentle dance of the leaves. The change in the water and the aroma. Focus on your thoughts, name your feelings, turn down the tap and slow the thoughts.
  6. Pour the tea through the strainer into your cup for drinking. Feel the heat of the cup. Take a deep smell of the tea.
  7. If you have the luxury of time take the tea and continue the mindfulness while the tea cools and while you drink the brew.

Let us know in the comments below what your experience of mindfulness is? Join us on social media to share your tips for tea and mindfulness.