I love cooking. I love cooking almost as much as I love Yoga. I can safely say that cooking and Yoga keep me sane every day. When my daughter was born, I lost the luxury of long sessions on the mat and I barely had time to eat (let alone cook!). In many attempts to negotiate adequate rest, nourishment and yoga I discovered a beautiful way to be in the kitchen and practice without a mat or sweating involved. Through a friend I discovered how to meditate whilst making yogi tea. If you are not convinced that this constitutes Yoga (or cooking!), try it out anyway. You may discover that it is very healing to take time and make something from scratch, plus it makes a perfect drink for this cold winter season. Trust me, it is very relaxing and can be a natural meditation if you allow it to be.
You will need the following ingredients:
20 whole cloves
20 whole green cardamom pods(open them up)
20 whole black peppercorns
5 sticks of cinnamon
1/4 tsp. of ANY loose black tea and 6 cups of milk of your choice (whole milk works well)
You’ll be making tea and meditating for the next 25-30 minutes, so start by taking a few deep breaths and settle into the intention. Remind yourself, as you inhale, that you’re making tea for the sheer pleasure of it. As you exhale, let go of any ideas of what you think your tea may taste like or look like. Keep breathing and make yourself comfortable in your kitchen. There’s nobody to impress here and nothing to worry about. Next time you take an exhale, let out the sound “tea”. Did you notice how the word itself brings your mouth towards the shape of a smile? If not, smile and say it again. In the words of the great Yogi Bhajan: “Fake it and you will make it.”
Begin to boil about 12 cups of water. Watch the water boil. This is going to be your drishti. Cultivate the focus. If you’re human, you will notice (very shortly perhaps), that you are watching the water and secretly wishing it would hurry up. If that’s the case, close your eyes and refocus on your breath. Then open your eyes and try again. Do this as many times as you need in order to make peace with the water boiling. If you are really struggling, meaning, you’re getting all worked up because you’ve been asked to watch water boil, remind yourself that 1) nobody forced you to, 2) you can walk away at any time, and 3)you can laugh at yourself and come back to your breath. The choice is always yours. Recognise and accept it.
As the water starts to boil, notice if there is a sense of anticipation, or relief, or happiness because now you get to DO something! Add the first four ingredients of the recipe to the boiling water. Do this as if you have all the time in the world. Let it boil for15-20 minutes. During this time you can give the ingredients a gentle stir, taking time to pause and notice if your stirring is an act of moving away from stillness or a sincere desire to stir. Breathe. Close your eyes, stop stirring, and take a really deep inhale. Can you identify each individual spice in the smell? Does one smell reign supreme? There is no right or wrong answer. Just stay present. If you’re bored at this point, you’re human. Stay with your breath and your brew.
Listen to the sound of the water boiling. Smell the spices. Do certain images or memories, or sensations come up in response to what you smell? Notice these and allow them to pass through you. If you’ve gotten this far, you’re doing great and if you’re already gone into the other room, no judgment, just kindly walk yourself back to the kitchen.
Now it’s time to add loose tea leaves. Stir and smell, for a minute or two. Notice the beautiful change in the colour of your brew. Next, add the milk. Roughly, you’d want half a cup of milk for every remaining cup of brew in the pot. Don’t worry about this NOT being exact! For you perfectionists, there is a great lesson or a major frustration here. Again, choice is yours. Can you trust what you see and taste? Even if you’ve never made tea before, you certainly know what tastes good. Let the brew get to the boiling point and then take it off the heat quickly. Now you’re ready to strain and serve. The meditation is still happening. DO NOT START TO CLEAN THE KITCHEN! (this is a different meditation for another time or, maybe, a meditation for your partner!).
Stay present as you choose a mug and fill it with tea. Adorn it with a favourite condiment, perhaps some honey or a fresh slice of ginger root. Snuggle down on the sofa and enjoy the experience. When you take your first precious sip, savour it. When we savour things, we need less of them. Which is when you may decide to take your freshly made tea – a literal manifestation of your time and energy -and share it with others. Doesn’t matter who you share it with, just notice how good it feels to give. Joy and peace can be as simple as that.
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