Barbara Carpenter, Senior Chaplain at Lee Abbey Devon reflects on mental health this Brew Monday.
‘I like a nice cup of tea in the morning …’ so begins a very old song that my mother used to sing! But this song extolling the virtues of a cup of tea – at any time of day – reminds me of something important; that its good to pause and enjoy a moment of refreshment, whatever the time of day. Whether its tea, or coffee, or simply a glass of water, pausing for a moment and just taking the opportunity to stop, breathe and reflect can be a real life-saver – especially in this season when we are experiencing the stresses and strains of life.
Drinking ‘on the run’ is great and we all need to do that from time to time – I love my travel mugs – but stopping, and making the most of the moment when you can stop, is such a precious and key opportunity to take. To get in touch with our surroundings – see the sights, smell the smells, taste the tastes, hear the sounds – all the things that so often get missed in the ‘doings’ of our lives, is so important for our well-being in body, mind and spirit. It’s what we’re encouraged to do if we’re experiencing anxiety or a panic attack; to activate all our senses so that we can get in touch with what’s actually happening in the moment, helping us to shift the focus away from those very present and real fears that may be threatening to overwhelm us.
And of course, this is a deeply spiritual practice too. We talk about ‘being grounded’ and ‘being in the present moment’; whilst we know we are always and everywhere in the presence of God (think Psalm 139!) we need to be disciplined too in turning our focus towards him and deliberately engaging with His presence. So if you have a favourite spot to sit and drink your cuppa then why not put your bible by it, or print out a favourite psalm or jot down a few inspirational verses to inspire you as you sip away? Think Psalm 23 – “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.” For whether you are physically by yourself or in the company of others these moments of rest and refreshment can make a huge difference to our lives.
God has created us in His image – body, mind and spirit – so we need to take care of the whole package! So often we neglect one part of ourselves, which means that we end up like a bit of a wobbly milking stool and it all feels a bit precarious. Jesus said, “Love your neighbour as you love yourself” (Mark 12:31); loving ourselves in terms of taking care of our whole selves is important. So whether its ‘a nice cup of tea’, a mug of coffee, a glass of water, whatever it is for you today, stop, breathe and reflect for the good of your whole self, body, mind and spirit.