Did you know you can rewire your brain to calm anxious thoughts and boost your brainpower?
Neuroplasticity, the change of brain structures as a result of experience, is considered to be one of the most important discoveries of neuroscience. And mindfulness – including meditation – has been associated with increased grey matter in the left hippocampus, a brain area strongly involved in learning and memory.
Why does this matter? Well, it scientifically proves that mindfulness works, and that slowing down and switching off is our mental oasis in the busyness of every day.
Meditation will look different for all of us. It’s not just about chanting ‘om’, or lying in ‘corpse’ pose, shavasana, in yoga. It’s simply about the process of becoming aware, whether through actual sitting meditation, exercise or daily rituals.
My version of meditation is sitting quietly with a cup of tea. At the moment it’s with teaware from my new Paradise Palms collection, which instantly transports me to a place with magical pink sunsets, ocean sounds and gently swaying palms, and makes calmness wash over me.
Tea was actually invented for medicinal purposes in China thousands of years ago – and in the East, especially in Japan, tea and mindfulness go hand-in-hand. For centuries it’s been thought to bring good health, happiness and wisdom.
The Japanese tea ceremony is all about being present and drinking your tea with complete awareness. Why don’t you try it next time you have a cup of tea, and don’t have to rush out the door to go to work or pick the kids up from school?
First thing in the morning, or on a Sunday, I’ll make a tea and sit down, taking a moment to simply relax with my tea – soaking in the aroma, appreciating the beauty of the teacup. Next, I simply drink my tea fully with mindfulness. I take it slowly, only drinking very small sips at a time, savouring every mouthful. If my mind wanders, I bring it back to my senses: gazing at the gold trim on my Blue Lagoon teacup, deeply breathing in the tea’s aroma and feeling its delicate taste on my tongue.
This form of meditation – medi-tea-tion, if you like – is a beautiful ritual that will help you cultivate a sense of gratitude, nurture yourself and reduce stress. You can do it in five minutes or 50. Moreover, you’ll get all the health benefits from drinking tea (see my list below). And you’ll be doing your hippocampus a big favour, too. Tea that makes you smarter … I think we should all drink to that.
If you want heightened mental alertness and anti-ageing benefits … Drink green tea. It’s loaded with polyphenols such as flavonoids and catechins, which function as powerful antioxidants.
If you want to combat stress and aid digestion … Drink peppermint tea. Peppermint tea supports the digestive system, and its anti-inflammatory properties can reduce blood pressure and body temperature, calming you down.
If you want a good night’s sleep … Drink chamomile tea, a calming, sedative drop which is prized for its special flavonoids.
If you’ve had too much wine over the weekend … Drink milk thistle and dandelion tea: gentle liver cleansers that will help the liver to regenerate.
If you want to ward off colds this winter … Drink rosehip tea, one of the best plant sources of vitamin C.
Tea brands I love include Pukka Organic Teas, Lovingearth, Clipper Teas, Deitea, Matcha Maiden (matcha green tea), Madame Flavour, 8 Teas, Mariage Frères, Ladurée (amazing fragrant French teas) and Fortnum & Mason
And of course if you’re looking for the most beautiful designer teaware to kick-start your meditation, you can find some of my newest arrivals here.