Oprah’s Mindfulness Tea Meditation (Video): Simply Savor The Moment

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In these hurried and harried times, we’re hearing so much about mindfulness and mediation as practices that can enhance memory, mood, alertness, calm, sleep, cognitive functioning and even physical health. People healing from pain, PTSD and addictions are finding relief by incorporating mindfulness as a part of their treatment.

The concept of being mindful can seem intimidating at times. This video, for instance, features Oprah doing a mindfulness tea meditation with Thích Nhất Hạn (update: the video was taken before a serious brain injury last year–he is in recovery and drinking tea again!). The Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist tells her that this practice can take an entire hour.  Seriously? They’ve got like, five ounces in those little cups. Who has an hour to drink tea? Buddhist monks, that’s who. This is a man who published a 120-page book entitled How To Sit. 

Actually, as our Zen friend points out, mindfulness is simply choosing to remain fully present and awake–without judgment–in the here and now. We can practice anytime, anywhere, and in doing so, it gets easier and more rewarding. But I can’t think of a better time for training our minds toward mindfulness than  tea time. We’ve already chosen to take a break and disconnect from hustle and stress. We’ve chosen one of the healthiest foods on the planet to warm, calm and nourish our bodies. Why not warm, calm and nourish the spirit as well?

Later on today, before you reach for the cup or kettle, bring your attention to your breathing. Inhale joy and exhale stress. Next, invite all five senses to join you, moment by moment in the making and enjoying of your tea. See the steam rising from the kettle, the color of the liquor deepening in the cup, the curve, color and design of the saucer you’ve placed it on. Hear the water rushing out of the faucet, dancing and bubbling in the kettle, whistling as vapor once it’s boiled. Smell the lemon as you cut it, the scent of the dry tea, and then notice how that scent deepens and transforms as the tea steeps. Touch the contours of the cup and feel the warmth of the tea on your lips. Taste the tea you’ve chosen for today. Is it floral or grassy? Tannic or smooth? Notice how honey or milk changes the flavor. Does the first sip seem different from the last? Does it warm, soothe, or invigorate you? Focus only on enjoying your tea. And if any thoughts or noises interrupt you, simply let them dissolve away like a cube of sugar. When you savor the moment–any moment–you’re being mindful.