Written by Courtney Seffense, WLLC 2015-2016
As Dr. Grigel noted cheerfully in her presentation, different types of medicinal teas have real effects on the behavior of your brain on a directly chemical level. You’re low on energy? Drink this. It will help. You need to focus? Drink this, this, and this. (I actually did ask her what herbs would be ideal for focus, as I had a calculus exam the next day; she recommended lemon balm, licorice, and wild oats, which were a lovely combination and, I believe, did help.)
I completed the meditation practice this week by listening to music. Every morning, on my fifteen-minute trek to Boettcher, I would play different types of music, and do my best to lose myself in it (although not to the degree that I would wander into the road before the walk signal said I could on Evans). Sure enough, I really did notice an improvement in my attitude toward that first hour of class (which is saying something, since I have calculus II first hour). I modified the practice a little bit, though, by interweaving tea drinking. At thirty degrees every morning, however, it doesn’t make that much sense to carry a thin paper Sodexo cup of tea; it’s ice cold twenty feet into the walk. So instead, I added a second music-and-tea meditation ritual. Sometimes I performed it at night and sometimes I performed it between classes (I have a three-hour break twice per week). Being no medicinal herb specialist, I didn’t pay much attention to what type of tea I made beyond it having a good flavor. I would take about half an hour, put my earbuds in, ignore all other human life (sorry, Riley), make tea, and drink it as quickly or slowly as I felt like and the temperature allowed (to be fair, I did make Riley some tea several times). The rule was that I could think about whatever I wanted (I have terrible mind chatter), but I could do absolutely nothing besides listen to music and drink tea until I finished it. I just let my mind chatter on, and eventually I found that, without my noticing, it would quieten all by itself, no effort on my part, and probably because I put no effort in on my part. I slept better, I could focus better, I felt happier. Being a thoughtful type anyway, doing this gave me a space every day to just ponder on whatever I wanted, guilt-free, which is something I need in my life everyday or I lose my direction.