The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the day to day life of people across the globe. All counties in Pennsylvania are currently under a Stay at Home Order, requiring all residents to stay at home when not doing essential activities. These changes have resulted in added nervousness, stress and anxiety.
Mental health is an important component of total body health. Mindfulness is a practice often used to relieve stress and balance emotions. At the beginning of February, Ally Antonini led a mindfulness tea class at the Samana Holistic Center in Pottstown. Antonini is a certified teacher in yoga and reiki, an alternative practice focused on energy healing.
“We’re trying to find balance in the breath and the body and coming into awareness of our senses while trying some different awesome teas,” Antoni explained at the beginning of the mindfulness class.
Mindfulness is about being aware of your feelings and paying attention to those feelings, according to an article published through the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley.
“Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens,” stated the article.
The article went on to state mindfulness has “physical, psychological and social benefits.” A study published in the 2003 edition of Psychosomatic Medicine, found that mindfulness training can actually boost the immune system.
Participants of the mindfulness tea class began by sitting on the floor in a circle. Soothing, melodic music played lightly in the background. As the group closed their eyes, Antonini asked a series of questions to promote awareness of each action such as breathing in and out deeply. The class did other mindfulness moves such as bringing their hand to their heart and focusing on the rhythmic beating. Antonini explained that each action was meant to bring awareness to your feelings and thoughts without distractions.
After demonstrating some mindfulness techniques to the class, Antonini passed around containers of dried herbs for participants to smell. The herbs were the ingredients of two brewed teas they would drink. The first tea the class experienced was a gut healing tea. The tea consisted of spearmint, calendula flowers, chamomile, plantain leaves, rose hips, and raspberry leaves.
“The gut tea is good for digestion but some of the components in it like the chamomile and the spearmint will help find some balance in the nervous system as well,” Antonini said.
She added that ingredients such as the chamomile and spearmint have a calming effect.
“It’s giving your mind and your nervous system just some time to be chill,” Antonini said.
The other tea introduced in the class was made from the flowers and leaves of a Linden tree. Antonini explained that Linden, chamomile and herbs in the mint family all help calm you down.
“If you’re feeling stressed or anxious or just have a lot on your plate … it’s always good to have something to help balance out your nervous system,” she said.
Scott Jones, of Schwenksville, took the mindfulness class along with his 10-year-old daughter Peyton. He said learning about mindfulness has helped him be more aware when drinking tea and eating in general.
“I’ve just slowed down. I think it helps me, with all foods now, to just kind of take it in, feel it, smell it and taste it. I like the process of it,” Jones said.
His daughter Peyton said she likes the relaxing aspect of mindfulness tea.
“I can just sit and relax and have a cup of tea,” she said.
To learn more about the Samana Holistic Center, visit the website at www.samanahc.com. The center is currently offering events such as virtual yoga classes and phone readings.