A lesson from an Indigenous community leader reminds me to set the table for tea, over and over if necessary, to be a person of value and to connect properly with community.
The more you sit with a person and talk over the tea, the more the trust comes. But more than that, there is something deeply humanising. You learn about a person – and how you relate to people – when you are choosing to sit in their living room and wait for a kettle to boil. When you answer and slowly remember their responses to “milk?”, “sugar?” or “lemon?”, friendship builds. And tea is less about the noise of the milk frother or being somewhere to be seen in some hip place.
A lot of our culture is not in tune with the tea at the table analogy. It is about the quick coffee, the twenty-minute pitch, ninja star business card and the looking stylish while you do it.
Tea is the patient ticking of the clock, the boiling water, the five minutes of brew time, the small sips, and the unfurling of proper conversation in between.
The next time you are considering yourself too busy for a multitude of things, consider a cup of tea as:
- Ten minutes spent away from your desk to give your brain a rest for the idea to come
- A cup you can bring to your lips to buy yourself a moment to think, pause or even hide behind in the next Zoom meeting
- The mindful moment you gift yourself outside on a seriously busy day
- A suitable replacement for a cigarette, Facebook scroll or other addictive habit you’re attempting to break
- The necessary conversation that may take tea, weeks of tea time, a teapot or even a tea party to get sorted
How to make an excellent cup of tea
- Choose a tea that is good quality organic tea (non-organic tea often has residual pesticides in it!).
- Almost take the water to boiling point (but not quite).
- Pour on your tea (bag or diffuser) and set the timer on the stove for five minutes.
- Enjoy some light conversation as we wait.
- Add milk and sugar to taste. (If you have found a great vegan milk for tea, LMK!).
- Take your time to have the conversations that matter in between sips.
- Find a sunny spot and enjoy.
Come back and make more tea instead of letting patience rule – good things take time, after all!
Why mindful moments?
Most of us think that self-care is an action we need to take in big slabs of time. If we need a rest, we need a day or an evening off. If we want to do something creative, it comes at the end after we’ve worked. To exercise is to attend a class or hit the gym for an hour or two. But most of the time, we’re stressed waiting for these larger slabs of time to appear. What we really need are smaller mindful moments.
Much of what we do in freelancing is about beating the clock, meeting the deadline, and measuring it with analytics. By taking back the small moments within our day, we can break that cycle.
A couple of mindful moments for you might be to:
- Listen to a favourite song with the headphones on
- Take five minutes out with your journal
- Stop to pat the pet
- Water your office plant
- Check the mail
- Sing along to the radio
- Go outside and have lunch in the garden
- Look around the room and note what you see, hear and smell five times
- Look at the sky or a beautiful photo or view
Whatever the case may be, taking that five minute moment to focus on something outside work, expectation and “how you should do it” can be just the raindrop you need to help fill your self-care bucket.