a cup of tea

jan 2021.

My prayer for this year is

I do less
so I can love more.

What is the smallest or simplest way I can experiment with that?

one thing at a time. A cup of tea. I have a cup of tea alongside almost any task I do. Have I ever simply had a cup of tea, and done nothing else? What does it feel like to just do that one thing? What happens if I don’t fill the time between sips with something entertaining/productive/numbing?


I expect to feel restless, and for my mind to quickly fill with to-dos. I actually have no idea how long a cup of tea takes. Five minutes? Ten? Twenty? Will it feel like a meditation? I don’t expect to enjoy this. Hmm. Not sure if that’s true. I know I’ve been putting it off for days. Why? Am I too busy?


I had a cup of tea in the middle of the day. It was rooibos tea with milk. It was a Wednesday, in a quiet-ish week. I wasn’t particularly energetic or tired.

I filmed myself, too. I wasn’t sure about this. [I have a whole other experiment going on with videoing myself, maybe I shouldn’t combine them. Also would it make me behave differently? I decided that if I was worried about that I could always do a second experiment without the camera.]

What happened

I spent about 13 minutes drinking that cup of tea.

At first I felt weird. Partly because of the video, but mainly I didn’t know what to do with my body. Should I lie down? Then I wouldn’t be able to drink. I felt awkward. It was a ‘waiting room’ feeling. I wanted something to happen, my name to be called. I took little sips of tea and wished it would go quicker.

My head didn’t fill with to-dos like I’d expected. It mostly filled with self-conscious thoughts about the video, which I tried to forget about by looking around the room for distractions. And I focued on really tasting the tea, doing that conscious presence thing, trying to feel different parts of my body and be in the moment, experiencing how it felt.

After a few minutes I had stopped thinking consciously. I have no idea what was in my head, I had pretty much settled in to the process of just having a cup of tea.

I got really lost watching the birds outside my window. There was a blackbird hopping on Jack’s workshop roof, it looked like it was eating the moss, pecking bits to make it roll down, then chasing and grabbing them. Really strange and amusing. Then there were two jackdaws sitting on a thick black cable that stretched across in front of number 10. I got completely lost in watching them. The way they inched back and forth on the cable, towards and away from each other. At one point they were grooming each other, it was very sweet and affectionate, really beautiful to watch. Then it looked like they’d fallen out with each other, taking these abrupt little side-steps apart, then back together, then away again. They kept on doing this dance, falling in and out of desire for each other. Sometimes mirroring each other. Sometimes one mimicking the other. At one point they flew to sit on ledges on the wall of number 10. They stayed for a few minutes, constantly checking on each other, watching where the other was and what they were doing. Then they flew off.

That kind of broke the spell and I started thinking consciously again, the cuppa was nearly done. I wondered what this video would look like. I finished up quickly (I tried not to do it quickly but that felt like I was ‘pretending’, but then what does that even mean?)

Straight afterwards I felt really… satisfied. Content. Relaxed. No profound moments, just felt nice. I went about my day.


Hmmm. Did this esperiment make me feel ‘more intentional’? Kind of. It’s making me think differently about what intentionality is. I intentionally created the time and space to drink my tea and do nothing else. Then, while I was doing that, I drifted off and became absorbed in observing something. It did feel like a meditation. I wonder how it would feel if I did this on a stressful or full-feeling day.

I did feel like I was ‘loving more’ by doing less. I was really loving those jackdaws. And I was really loving the moment I was in, even without being self-aware. Or rather, because I wasn’t self-aware. Even with the video.