From mantras to meditation, mindfulness to manifestation,Well Intentionedoffers an intimate look at how to make space for self-care in meaningful ways, big and small.
I first learned about Jay Shetty about five years after he launched his mission to “make wisdom go viral,” via an extremely credible source: Jennifer Ansiton. “That’s so awesome,” Shetty says with a laugh, flashing a warm smile across our shared Zoom screen. Shetty—a business school grad-turned-monk who has leveraged his motivational speeches and self-help philosophies into a coaching career that has attracted CEOs, celebrities, and millions of people who seek weekly guidance from his YouTube channel, podcasts, and speaking events—has logged on to drop some knowledge about yet another way you, too, can be mindful and stay present: drinking tea.
“One of my earliest memories is getting picked up from school by mom and we’d have a cup of tea and she’d ask me how my day was,” says Shetty, 34, who just launched Sama, a line of four adaptogenetic teas, with his wife, Radhi Devlukia-Shetty. “My parents were very busy, they were both immigrants working extremely long hours, but I started to equate love and presence and energy with tea time with my mom.” When Shetty and Devlukia-Shetty got married five years ago, they started their own tea ritual—a few minutes every morning to connect over a bespoke herbal “potion” Devlukia-Shetty would blend before their days took them in different directions —and just as the pandemic hit, Shetty had a realization: “I’ve always wanted to make mindfulness, presence, stillness, wellness easier for people. And I thought, ‘How can I make people more aware of how to do this in a way they will remember it?”
Tea is “very British and very Indian,” concedes Shetty, who grew up in London with Indian parents, and now lives in Los Angeles. But it’s metamorphic significance can be applied across borders, even in a country where coffee is king: “You can’t rush tea. You have to sip it slowly,” he points out, noting the way the soothing elixir forces you to slow down and just…breathe. This is precisely the kind of simple hack that informs many of Shetty’s extremely relatable lessons on life—and wellness (below), a juggernaut he prefers to approach with “mini moments of reflection” versus anything too unattainable and unrealistic. Case in point: even just pivoting away from that episodic TV series you (and I) rely on to “relax” can do a world of good for our ability to actually wind down. Something to consider the next time you queue up 30 Rock. Again.
1. Do One Thing At A Time
Something I learned during my time as a monk is the idea of monotasking. We become more productive, more creative and more effective if we don’t multitask. Multitasking is a myth. Studies show that only 2% of the world’s population is able to multitask — and the problem is when people hear that, they think they’re in that 2%. But the truth of it is that most of us are in the 98%. We think that by doing a lot of things at once we are increasing our productivity, effectiveness and efficiency while the likelihood is that our productivity, effectiveness and efficiency are going to drop. Monotasking doesn’t mean that you don’t have a lot going on. It just means that when you’re doing something, you’re only on that one thing. I make videos, I have a podcast, I write books, I’m doing this interview with you—we all have so many things that are happening in our lives. But when you are doing that one thing it’s important that you are fully there. Monotasking doesn’t stop you from doing a lot of exciting projects or having a schedule that’s full, either; it just requests of you to be more conscious and intentional of where you are. When you’re monotasking, you retain more, you’re able to build deeper connections and deeper relationships with people, and on top of all of that, you get to feel a sense of stillness and clarity we dont feel when we’re running around from place to place. Tea is another great way to make mindful moments. I hold it in my hands and feel the warmth, I breathe in the smell, I look at the color, then finally I take a taste and notice every aspect of the flavor as it hits my tongue.
2. Prioritize Play
I used to hate exercise. The drudgery of going to a gym every day or working out with a personal trainer just felt so boring and monotonous. When I thought back to how I used to get my exercise as a kid and at university, it was through play—playing football and other games. Now I get most of my exercise by playing tennis in the mornings as often as I can, and I absolutely love and look forward to it. It’s not only good for my body, it really boosts my mood and I’m energized for the day. There’s this George Bernard Shaw quote I love to use: “We don’t stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.” As we get older we get more serious—about everything. Everything becomes high stakes and high stress and high pressure. The only way to balance that in our lives is not necessarily to go sit and watch TV for a few hours. A lot of us think that is giving us that decompression we need. But true play makes you laugh, it makes your brain feel like you’re learning, the stakes are low. Play could be playing a board game. I got really into Catan and Codenames during the pandemic. I think everyone did! But it could also be playing a game with your coworkers every week, or a fantasy football league, or a cycling club. It’s not just about being healthy and being fit. It’s just about being more child-like, not childish.
3. Choose Education Over Entertainment
I used to spend hours trying to find something to watch. Watching something dissatisfying. Then going to sleep. Or uploading cliffhanger chemicals into my mind and body. The simple answer to how to not do this is to make simple changes: make a really small switch and choose a documentary instead of that TV show. You don’t want to read? Listen to an audiobook. It’s starting with a small, mini replacement. People want deeper rest but when you’re watching something that’s flooding your mind with anxiety before going to bed of course you’re going to have trouble sleeping. But I’ve found that if you’re learning something, it can also help your mind settle. A lot of us are numbing our creativity and numbing our own rest by activating ourselves with something external that isn’t fueling or feeding us. If you’re watching a TV show, why not take notes on something that blew your mind, or something you’d like to research more about? Ask yourself, What lessons did I learn? What reference is in there? We can turn our entertainment into a healthy growth mindset. It’s not that there isn’t a benefit to entertainment. I love watching Ted Lasso! I just think there is a step further that we haven’t explored.
4. Maximize Your Media
Every Monday I send my team, family, and friends a voice note and picture of a book I am reading or an exercise. It creates energy. People need something to start their week with energy. Right now I’m reading Daniel Coyle’s The Culture Code, which is full of experiments and studies about what creates incredible culture in teams. And this is the second time I’m reading it but I also just came back to When by Daniel H. Pink, which is about the science of perfect timing. You have to discover the genre that gets you excited. Often we waste a lot of time trying to read books that just aren’t our genre. Behavioral science books are usually my go-to. I’m also listening to “Where is My Mind?” which is Mark Gober’s podcast where he talks about what science is tinkering with, but also these are things that I’ve read about in the vedas. I really love to find parallels in the ancient learning I’ve studied. I also spend a lot of time listening to meditative playlists on Spotify. I really believe that sound can change how we feel so if I’m brushing my teeth, or eating, I put on a meditation playlist to slow me down.
When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing hardcover by Daniel H. Pink
5. Create Community
We think we’re missing people after the last 18 months but we’re really missing shared experiences. Being on Zoom and just talking isn’t a shared experience. So what I’m encouraging is sharing an experience together where we feel understood, even if that’s virtually. I started two communities with some friends and their teams and families during the pandemic and they have been running for over 75 weeks now! One is a book club and one is a meditation club. You don’t have to be a meditation teacher or coach to start a meditation group, either. Use a playlist. I have one on YouTube. Book clubs are the same. Pick a book you want to read, or you can follow along with a list that already exists, like Oprah’s or Reeese Witherspoon’s. Zoom groups without a central focus don’t last, but when everyone is receiving and everyone is sharing it creates a community that no one wants to stop having.