Mindfulness And Calming Your Thoughts

 

 

 

 

In the rush to accomplish necessary tasks and manage our daily lives, we often find ourselves losing our connection with the present moment—missing out on what we are doing and how we are feeling. Did you notice whether you felt well-rested this morning or that your new rose bloomed today? You can improve your life with simple mindfulness practices.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing our attention on the present moment—and accepting it without judgment. Mindfulness is now being examined scientifically and has been found to be a key element in stress reduction and overall happiness.

It generally involves a heightened awareness of sensory stimuli (really noticing your breathing, feeling the sensations of your body, etc.) and being “in the moment.”

While mindfulness has origins in Eastern philosophy, there is no necessary religious component to mindfulness. Anyone with any belief system can enjoy the benefits of mindfulness.

What Are the Benefits of Mindfulness?

Increasing our capacity for mindfulness supports many attitudes that contribute to a satisfied life. Being mindful makes it easier to savor the pleasures in life as they occur, helps us to become fully engaged in activities, and creates a greater capacity to deal with adverse events. By focusing on the here and now, many people who practice mindfulness find that they are less likely to get caught up in worries about the future or regrets over the past, are less preoccupied with concerns about success and self-esteem, and are better able to form deep connections with others.

If greater well-being isn’t enough of an incentive, scientists have discovered that mindfulness techniques help improve physical health in a number of ways. Mindfulness can help relieve stress, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain,  improve sleep, and alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties.

Even an informal approach to mindfulness can help us to stay in the present and fully participate in life. You can choose any task or moment to practice informal mindfulness, whether you are eating, showering, walking, or playing with a child.

An Informal Approach to Mindfulness

  • Start by bringing your attention to the sensations in your body
  • Breathe in through your nose, allowing the air downward into your lower belly. Let your abdomen expand fully.
  • Now breathe out through your mouth
  • Notice the sensations of each inhalation and exhalation
  • Proceed with the task at hand slowly and with full deliberation
  • Engage your senses fully. Notice each sight, touch, and sound so that you savor every sensation.
  • When you notice that your mind has wandered from the task at hand, gently bring your attention back to the sensations of the moment.

Mindful tea-drinking practice

Frequently, even short periods of meditation can seem overwhelming at first. So bringing mindfulness to everyday activities such as drinking a cup of tea is a gentle way to begin. It’s also a helpful way to develop your practice. Below are a few suggestions on how to practice mindful tea-drinking.

1. Be open to your senses, rather than try to analyze what’s happening as you prepare the water for tea-making.

2. Notice the feeling of being in your environment.

3. When your mind wanders into thought, as it probably will, gently return your attention to sensing.

4. Be aware of your sensations and the liking or disliking of them. If there are thoughts, let them enter into and then pass through your mind without following them. Try to stay with the tea tasting. Notice without judgement any desire to rush the drinking, and any impatience that comes.

5. Bring gentle awareness to whatever emerges. Becoming conscious of how much the mind wanders is a sign of growing awareness. Be open to the spirit of the practice, sensing with gentle precision what’s happening, moment by moment, and coming back to sensing whenever you notice you’ve drifted into thought.

The key is understanding what drives your patterns of behavior and then learn how to shift them to serve you instead of holding you back.

Focus on the present and quiet that voice inside – the one that offers the running commentary on what you’re doing, what you’ve done, and what you will be doing. When we focus on fulfillment over achievement, we will enjoy the journey.

 

Tea Time – Are There Health Benefits?

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Time For Tea

Tea is the most commonly consumed beverage in the world, second only after water. Black, green, white, and oolong teas derive their leaves from a warm-weather evergreen tree known as Camellia sinensis. The leaves from this tree contain antioxidant polyphenols.  Although all tea has the same origin, the differences occur in the harvesting and processing. As a general rule of thumb, the more oxidizing processing the leaves undergo, the darker they will turn.

Nutritional Breakdown of Tea

According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, one cup of black tea (approximately 237 grams) contains 2 calories, 1 gram of carbohydrate, 0 grams of sugar, 0 grams of fiber and 0 grams of protein as well as 26% of daily manganese needs and small amounts of riboflavin, folate, magnesium, potassium and copper.

The caffeine contained in a cup of tea can vary according to the length of infusing time and the amount of tea infused.

Overall, this delicate brew contains few calories, helps with hydration and is a good source of antioxidants, such as  catechins,  known for having beneficial anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties.

Green 

Green tea is the most studied for investigating health benefits. Studies have found that a cup of green tea contains about 105 mg of catechins and a cup of black tea only provides 10 mg. Chinese green teas are usually wok-roasted, unlike the Japanese steaming process. Both processes prevent the leaves  from oxidizing and fermenting tea’s natural polyphenols. This results in a fresher, lighter flavor.

Matcha tea, which is recently gaining popularity, is finely ground or milled green tea turned into a powder. Traditional matcha tea powder is then sifted into a bowl with hot water until frothy. When drinking matcha, you consume the whole tea leaf instead of just the infusion, which experts say make matcha nutritionally superior to green tea. Among all green tea, matcha contains the highest level of catechin epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which is 137 times more than regular green tea! Amazingly, EGCG has been shown to speed up your body’s metabolism, which may help to keep the weight off.

White 

White tea is made in a similar fashion using the newest, youngest buds of the plant  in early spring. These young leaves contain little or no chlorophyll, therefore they are silvery white. White tea is the least processed tea, almost unoxidized, therefore the polyphenols  are extra potent.

Black 

Black tea possesses different antioxidants as a result of an additional oxidation process. Such process decreases catechin content, but produces other unique antioxidants, namely theaflavins and thearubigins. It is indeed theaflavins that is responsible for the unique red brewed color! Studies have found that these two compounds are capable of lowering cholesterol.

Oolong 

Oolong tea is semi-oxidized, falls right in-between green and black tea in terms of processing. Therefore it contains antioxidant profiles of both teas, that is catechins from green tea and theaflavins and thearubigins from black tea. Oolong tea boosts metabolism, helping you burn fat faster. Its unique catechin and caffeine combination ignites your body’s fat-burning furnace and raises your metabolism. Oolong tea also contains polyphenols that help block fat-building enzymes. Studies have shown that drinking oolong tea has led to sustained weight loss and a smaller waist size.

Yerba Mate 

Popular in South America, yerba mate tea contains many antioxidants and vitamins and contains the fat-fighting compound mateine, which gives you a metabolism and energy boost. Matinee has been reputed to be a cravings-killer and saves you from consuming empty calories you’d normally reach for. Yerba mate does not produce the caffeine-related crashes that some people experience with coffee and can give you 3-4 hours of very stable, clean energy.

Research

The vast majority of the research conducted has been observational, meaning scientists can’t know if the medical boosts seen in tea drinkers are definitely a result of that habit, or some other factor that makes these people healthier. All five types above are high in polyphenols, a type of antioxidant that seems to protect cells from the DNA damage that can cause cancer and other diseases. It’s the polyphenols that have made tea the star of so many studies, as researchers try to figure out whether all that chemical potential translates into real disease-fighting punch.

Although herbal tea and red rooibos tea are not proven for heart health and cancer prevention, they are still plant-based drinks. Most plants contain some levels of antioxidants, as it is a natural mechanism to protect themselves against extended sun exposure.

I am pleased to recommend a friend, tea monger, foodie, yogi, literati, musician, and adaptive ski instructor to you to begin or continue your journey…www.leavesofcha.com

Brew your tea for at least 3 – 5 minutes to bring out the beneficial polyphenols. Don’t forget to enjoy the wonderful aromas of all tea!