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New Year, New You – Finding Your “Zen” with Japanese Green Tea

Happy New Year! After the turbulence of 2020, we’re all in need of a little more peace, calm, and Zen in our lives, and perhaps enlisting more healthy lifestyle habits as well. Whether your New Year’s resolution is to stress less, meditate more, get organized, or just be happier, Japanese green tea can help you on that #JourneyToSimplifyYou. Green tea is not just the beverage of choice for millions of people, it’s a way of life. Here are four of the top New Year’s resolutions and how Japanese green tea can help you on your way in 2021…

LIVE HEALTHIER

For centuries, Japanese green tea was a staple of the Japanese monks’ diet and lifestyle as it helped them with mental focus to enhance their Zen meditation practices, while also providing many health benefits.

Today, people around the world turn to the healing and soothing properties that Japanese green tea has to offer as a way to calm the spirit, focus the mind, improve mindfulness, and live a healthier lifestyle. Particularly, theanine in green tea helps lower blood pressure and has a relaxation effect to reduce stress, catechins help fight illnesses, reduce body fat, and decrease blood cholesterol; and caffeine helps increase stamina.

Additionally, matcha and sencha contain more than five times the folic acid, which helps in the formation of red blood cells that help oxygenate the body, than such superfoods as spinach and parsley. A great tea for those looking to burn more fat and suppress the appetite is genmaicha, which is a nutritious green tea made with roasted rice.

PRACTICE MINDFULNESS

For those looking for calming activities in addition to drinking Japanese green tea, look no further than Japanese Zen Buddhist philosophy, which includes meditation. Fans of this practice include everyone from Oprah Winfrey and Bill and Melinda Gates to friend, Nikki Reed. Zen meditation can be boiled down to a three-step process: adjusting one’s body, adjusting one’s breathing, and adjusting one’s mind.

The adjustment of the body helps to prepare you in order to achieve the state of being free, which is what Zen is all about. To accomplish this, it entails a proper diet, which includes Japanese green tea for its aforementioned mental and health benefits, exercising, getting enough sleep and avoiding habits that go against a healthy mind-body connection. When seated for meditation, the stance is one of two postures: lotus or half-lotus. For beginners, you can start by sitting up straight in a chair.

The next part is the adjustment of breathing. The goal of breathing in Zen meditation is to observe the breath count. To do this, simply and mindfully inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth for a few counts. Then, move onto only breathing through the nose, while drawing your breath into your lower abdomen. This breathing technique helps to oxygenate the body, refresh the mind and allows you to be present while enjoying your Japanese green tea.

Once the posture and breathing are adjusted, you begin to enter a state of meditation where you disengage from any worries or wandering thoughts that are cluttering your mind. Our friend Marie Kondo has taught us the concept of “Mushin” which is exactly that – emptying your mind. When your thoughts begin to wander, turn your focus back to your breathing as often as needed to enter a state of true meditation.

This is a practice that can take a lifetime to perfect, but the act of practicing, in and of itself, is a great way to practice mindfulness. It’s always nice to pair your meditation with a hot cup of Japanese green tea 1) straighten your posture, 2) drink a cup of green tea slowly, and 3) take a deep breath as a way to enhance the calm feeling before making your way back into your hectic day.

BE GREENER

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to be kinder to the planet, starting your morning with Japanese green tea is a great way to start. As we mentioned before, tea cultivation has a lower carbon footprint than coffee. For example, it takes 37 gallons of water to make an 8oz. cup of coffee, but only 8 gallons to make a cup of tea.

Being one with nature is also part of the Zen philosophy as you are practicing mindfulness to the planet. A few other ways to execute this idea is to plant a garden at home and start composting food scraps to cut down on waste. If you don’t have the outdoor space for a garden, you can grow certain potted plants inside your home year-round. Likewise, there are also indoor composting options. The act of tending to a garden is in itself very Zen as it helps to relax the mind, slow down, and be present in the moment.

To cut down on waste further, you can look for Japanese green tea bags that are compostable, such as the ones made by the Sugimoto Tea Company, whom we spoke to in a previous blog.

SIMPLIFY YOUR SPACE

One way to simplify you is to keep your home in order. In Zen practice, there’s a concept called Kanso, which means to eliminate clutter. Psychologists say there are many mental health benefits of an uncluttered space. It can build confidence, self-efficacy, boost productivity, reduce anxiety, and clear your mind. For many, the simple task of tidying up is a meditative experience as well.

Decluttering the whole house might feel daunting, so start with just one room at a time. If you work from home, your home office space is a great place to start. Once your office is tidy, you can move on and do the same to other rooms in your house. Don’t forget to reward yourself with a Japanese green tea break for your hard work. As with tidying, studies also show that taking tea breaks during the day is great for your mental wellbeing as it helps to reduce stress and promote relaxation. Gyokuro is a great option to drink during the day as it has the perfect balance of theanine and caffeine.

Whether it’s to live healthier, stress less, be greener, or find your Zen, Japanese green tea helps you to be on #JourneyToSimplifyYou. For more tips and motivation on how to live the Japanese green tea lifestyle, follow us on social media here: @justeayourself. Good luck with your New Year’s resolutions!

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