Practice diary: 4th October

I ended yesterday’s post saying I was going to have a slow cup of tea. My good friend Alan asked me later “How did it go?” Well to be honest, I had a few sips and then drifted on to something else. So thanks to his unintended prod I thought I should try again.

Rather than just mindfully drink the tea I decided to note my thoughts and feelings as they arose by saying them out loud. I also recorded myself doing this so I could share them. I doubt anyone will want to read them but I have written out the list and copied it at the bottom of this post.

What I found really interesting is rereading the quote from Tchich Nhat Hanh with an intention of acting upon it and experiencing it, not just thinking about it, I gained a noticeably different understanding of what he said and didn’t say. There is no demand to notice only the cup of tea as you drink it, but rather to drink it ‘reverently’. This takes away the possibility of drinking the tea in the wrong way. It is the same as in an ordinary sitting practice when we are told to return to the breath “without judgement”.

The instruction to drink the tea as if it were the ‘axis of the whole world’ sure is some commitment to mindfulness in the moment. People who have taken an MBSR course will see the similarity with the eating the raisin exercise from the first week. Often when people eat that raisin at such a slow speed they comment after that they noticed much more taste from it. And I can still taste the tea now, an hour after finishing the last mouthful. But this guidance also goes a step further than the MBSR “Only this actual moment is life” is a fantastically empowering statement. Because no matter what has gone before we have this moment; we can be mindful, we can be alive right now as we drink the tea..

That was honestly one of the best mugs of tea I have had in ages. I highly recommend you try driving one in a similar manner. And thank Alan when you do.

Favourite mug/ Hot/ Sipped/ Tongue/ Slurp/ Lingering taste/ Neighbour on the phone/ Wind in the chimney/ Breath/ Thinking of having another sip/ Breath/ Stomach rumbling/ Bigger sip/ Same taste/ I think that’s fish on the mugs and the blue lines are waves/ Water and milk in the tea/ Where do the milk and the tea come from?/ Breath/ After taste/ Slightly easier to touch the mug/ Touch of teeth on tongue/ Bigger sip/ Missed the taste but noticing the after taste/ Thinking about finishing the tea and watching the telly/ Sound of mug on coaster and rumble in stomach/ I like the sound of my neighbour’s voice/ The house is quiet/ Breath/ (I reread the TNH quote on tea drinking)/ What does evenly mean in that quote?/ Autumn/ Looking forward to watching the American football/ Feet on the floor bum on the cushion on the sofa/ Heating is up high enough for me to be in a t-shirt/ Near the end of the mug/ Cant hold the mug still enough so the tea inside stays still/ Cant believe I hadn’t noticed the fish and waves before on the mug/ Maybe flying fish/ I feel as if I’ve drunk a bigger mug of tea than I actually have/ I’ve drunk it quicker I think, I’ve got to the end and its still quite hot/ Teacup sound on coaster

Practice diary: 3rd October

We are a busy culture (part 2). When out walking I am thinking of cooking tea and not seeing the loosening leaves and their changing colours. Watching a favourite film I check my phone and miss a key scene entirely. Looking at the sunset I wonder about putting on a wash and leave the skyline after only a few seconds.

It’s all very well wanting to slow down and open out to experience like I suggested yesterday (see here). But even if I try slowing down the body, the mind keeps speeding away. Just switching off at the push of a button isn’t possible; a longer term solution is needed, with longer term commitment. Now I am not expert enough to know how anything other than the start of this extended project might look and I only know about the first step of this because I read this from Tchich Nhat Hanh in ‘Miracle of Mindfulness’

So not just being slower, but also living this moment – not future ones. Now this is written, I am going to make a cup of tea and see how it goes.