Gratitude: The Perfect Cup Exercise
Saturday, May 30th, 2009
In my world, a hot cup of tea (or anything warm) is not just part of that calming moment in the morning it is also my sensory reminder of gratitude. As I took my yoga instructor’s advice this week and looked at “my inner landscape” I realized a very strange and unexpected thing has happened in my life. Since starting this blog I have had a deepened sense of conviction in my work and whatever direction it may take me along with a greater sense of appreciation.
I have felt very grateful for those readers and friends who given their words of encouragement. Most of us have experienced how a few kind words can make our day despite how brief those interactions may be. For that I am thankful and happy. Psychology research indicates that gratitude does indeed deepen our happiness.
I am also happy to share that “A Nu Healthy You” blog made the “Top 50 Dietitian Blogs” list. A special thanks to Suzane Smith and her group for taking the time to see what nutrition-related websites are out there for readers. I encourage you to visit my colleagues’ websites and explore more of the nutrition world.
In addition to checking out those top 50-nutrition related websites you may enjoy these two delightful blogs: 5 Second Rule for recipes and general life thoughts and the oh so popular ZenHabits on simplifying your life and appreciating that “less can be more.” Cheryl Sternman and Leo Babauta are great writers. I have been enjoying them over a cup of “chai” for months now and you may also.
If you are interested in the full effect and perhaps willing to make a cup of fresh Indian Chai then check out my chai recipe below and the simple but powerful gratitude exercise. Positive Psychology teaches us the benefits are not in looking at the cup as “half full” or “half empty” but just appreciating the cup for what it is. So here’s to your perfect cup!
2 cups of filtered water
4 whole cardamom pods (2 cardamom pods can work well – I like this flavor heighten so I do 4)
2 whole cloves
1 teaspoon of fennel seeds
1/2 inch peeled fresh ginger root (you can keep the skin on for a more earthy taste, first timers may prefer the skin off)
1/2 fresh stick of cinnamon (this is a strong flavor – I typically don’t put any in but some people love it)
2 teaspoons loose black tea of your choice or two teabags of black tea (Lipton & Red Label work great)
1/3 cup organic 2% milk (or to taste – this amount may be on the creamier side for some)
Sugar to taste (if you are not sure where to start I have found most people like 1/2-1 tsp sugar)
1. Pour filtered water into pot and turn heat to medium high.
2. As the water starts to boil crush cardamom pods with a mortar and pestle (or roll over with rolling pin). The black seeds inside the cardamom should come out and you crush them also. You should be able to smell the delicate sweetness of cardamom after doing this. If the inside cardamom seeds are brown that means they are really old (happens if they have been on the grocery shelf too long) and ideally you need to toss them out and try another batch of cardamom seeds.
3. Add crushed cardamom seeds and pods (yes all of it), whole fennel seeds, whole cloves and peeled 1/2 inch of fresh ginger into water (the cinnamon stick would be added at this time if you choose to use it). I personally do not recommend using powdered versions of any of these ingredients. If you don’t have one of these ingredients then just forgo adding it.
4. Once the water boils with these seasonings for 2-3 minutes (flavor really seeps in) then add black tea (loose or tea bags).
5. Let the entire mixture boil with black tea for about 1-2 minutes (if you want more caffeine, i.e., like your tea darker) then boil a bit longer.
6. Now add milk to taste and allow the mixture to boil one more time. This is key for good chai. (For me it is this smell of chai that reminds me of gratitude as I begin my new day).
7. Use a tea strainer and pour tea in a cup. Discard all the seasonings and tea (loose or tea bags).
8. Add sugar to taste.
Play around with these chai ingredients. Add all of them or take away one or two of them and create your perfect cup.
Once you have poured the chai into your favorite cup, do a two minute gratitude exercise, i.e., think about 2 to 3 things you appreciate in your life right now. Moonlight jogs and the beautiful Mandeville flowers blooming on my deck have me grateful for living today. Take a sip. Savor.