Staying Sane During Stay-At-Home
It has been around six weeks since we have been confined to our homes. Handling bosses and projects remotely, challenges of home-schooling, lack of socialization, stream of negative news and political rancor that refuses to diminish would wear out the best of us. Given that, I want to share some centering practices that may help you keep your sanity and find a little peace.
Not having to wake up early to get the kids ready for school is one of the blessings at this time. Instead of sleeping in, which I did initially, now I wake early and use the quiet time before the rest of the household wakes up to meditate. Sadly, I realize my meditation skills are a little rusty. It is hard to quieten the chatter in the brain. Nevertheless, it feels good to let it all go - even let go of the worry over a hamster brain that refuses to stop running. Just focus on your breathing. I know it is easier said than done. Just start with a few minutes and try to gradually increase.
I also relish my first cup of tea in blissful peace before the family wakes. While making this cup, I give it my full attention. Making sure the water in the kettle is refreshed, selecting a tea that I really feel like at that moment, measure it out well and use my favorite cup. Then I watch the tea leaves magically open and dance around my cup. I take in the aroma and let my senses open fully to this powerful elixir. I sit down and enjoy my first few sips of the tea without any distractions.
Focus intently on the flavor notes while sipping it. Notice the color of the tea – hold it up to the window and to let the sun in your cup. Tea is a delicate beverage yearning for the full attention of your senses. When you focus on the tea experience it automatically quietens your mind. Darjeeling first flush teas are my go-to in the morning, although some people may find them too light for the morning jolt. You see I have never liked my day to start with a jolt. I prefer a gentle awakening.
Towards noon, a bowl of ceremonial matcha (Japanese green tea powder) is particularly helpful. The ceremonial grade matcha which is consumed after whisking it in warm water is full of an amino acid called theanine which helps to calm and focus the mind. Perfect if your boss is breathing down your neck remotely or you have a tight deadline.
One of the best things that has emerged during this confinement has been our 3 o'clock family teatime. It was our 10-year-old son's idea that we should as a family take a break and come together for tea. He pressed for a "fancy tea service" which entails using china tea pots and cups with a little milk and sugar on the side. Thanks to him I have started to genuinely enjoy my milk tea! (Tip for good milk tea: use a good tea like Darjeeling Breakfast Tea).
It is wonderful to hear the children open up and to connect with their thoughts and feelings. Our children are also under a lot of stress at this unique time as they navigate remote learning while being socially isolated from their friends. Alternatively, a gong fu cha session with our without the family is another great option for 3 o'clock tea time.
While making dinner, I usually steep myself a herbal tea. These days I have been drinking quite a bit of chaga mushroom and echinacea. These teas are supposed to support the immune system. I also drink echinacea - a common native American traditional remedy - to manage my seasonal allergies which have begun to bother me at this time of year. Chaga mushroom was popularized by herbalists from eastern Europe. It has a woody, roasted, chicory-like taste and it is believed to restore vigor in body and spirit while treating certain bodily ailments. I do find it perking me up.
It is very tempting to finish off the day with some tv viewing. But I try to get in bed with a book. That way I wake up the next day more rested and refreshed. An occasional Stephen Colbert before bed does not hurt. Humor after all is a great medicine all around.
Share with us if you can any rituals - with our without tea - that you have for coping with the continued confinement.