Gentle Elevation

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Calm awake. This is a phrase often used to describe one of the effects of tea on the human physiology and mental state. Alternatively, I use “gentle elevation” when I sit, share and discuss tea.

In the first few hundred years after tea was discovered by Shen Nong, tea was used primarily as a medicine oft prescribed in the practice of Chinese Medicine. When Buddhist and Taoist meditators got their ever-lovin’ hands on the precious leaf, they quickly learned about the gently elevating beverage. In the practice of meditation, especially in longer sits, sleepiness and falling asleep is something that could hinder progress. When an practitioner had a bowl of tea thirty or forty minutes prior to practice, they found that they could practice in a more alert state, but without feeling jolted, nervous or antsy. In this way they could sit longer, more comfortably, without the distraction of drowsiness. Calm awake, indeed. Such a fitting phrase.

While the alertness boosting quality of tea is thanks to caffeine, the calm and the tempering effect of that caffeine is due, in part, to the amino acid l-theanine, which acts as a brake to the quick release of energy from the adrenals. After all, we are not getting the extra energy from the caffeine, but rather our own kidney/adrenal system and the l-theanine and gamma amino butyric acid available in our beloved tea acts as a calming agent to our muscle tissue and nervous system. 

This makes tea entirely more gentle on our vital energy reserves, keeps our bodies calm while helping to keep us alert and focused on whatever task we wish to accomplish, including meditation, working out, caring for our children or getting things done at work.  

As we age, our bodies energy reserves naturally begin to decline. Tea helps us to ensure that those vital energies are preserved in ways that high-octane beverages such as energy drinks and coffee will not. Making up for our energy depletion by creating further draws on those systems will only create a more rapid decline in their reserves. 

Those considering a switch to tea from coffee would do well to make the transition in a gentle fashion so as to not cause withdrawal type reactions. I advise people to slowly introduce tea as a replacement over several weeks. Once one gets down to tea only, give tea a solid two weeks trial before making a judgment about whether it feels right. Feel it out and experience for yourself what calm awake is all about. Be prepared to feel several other positive changes as well such more even energy throughout the day, more quality sleep at night and a calmer digestive system. May you enjoy the experiment. May it enhance your life experience!

May you be well always in all ways, 

Garret