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Why We Crave Warmth (and How to Practice Mindfulness through Coziness)

Updated: Mar 4

This week, 'Therapy Begins with T(ea)' steeps on how our bodies benefit from physical and psychological warmth & offers a body based check-in to practice cultivating warmth wherever, whenever.

warmth and mindfulness

Therapy Begins with T(ea) is a weekly newsletter based on the themes that come up in my sessions as a therapist who specializes in imposter syndrome, attachment styles in romantic relationships, and our psychological relationships with money. Each week consists of a 'steep' in thought reflection, an accompanying body based check-in, and tea card intentions for the week to come.

'Steep' in Thought (3-5 min)

Why we crave warmth

Is anyone else wishing they were by sand and sea right now? A soft breeze playing gently with your hair, warmth radiating across your skin as if the sun lived inside your body. A sunny day, a sunnier attitude.

For those of us hit by the cold (literally) hard reality of winter right now & unable to jet off to an island, warmth is still within reach. And it’s important that we do reach for it. The physiological sensation of warmth (e.g. from a tropical paradise, a sauna/hot bath, a cup of tea!) physically thaws us out by relaxing the tension in our bodies, similar to the way mindfulness does. And also just like mindfulness, it cultivates a sense of peace, presence, & lucidity in our bodies (so it’s not just a break from work that causes the endorphin rush we nostalgically associate with vacation!). This is also why SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) often ameliorates with warmer weather.

Warming up even when it's cold

You know the adage ‘move a muscle, change a thought’? Think of it as ‘warm a muscle, change a thought’ because warmth is as much psychological as it is a physiological experience -- and psychological warmth offers the same benefits. In this case, warmth comes from experiences of intimate connection with something outside of you (like nature or a pet), kinship, an unexpectedly positive interaction with a friendly stranger, or the cozy solitude of a good blanket and an even better book.

Today’s ‘Steep’ is less a realization and more a gentle reminder of how important cultivating experiences of warmth -- physiologically & psychologically -- is to our wellbeing as we navigate the stress, anxieties, & unknowns of daily life. Do something every day this week to warm yourself up & notice the changes in your overall mood.

The full body check-in this week is a practice in cultivating warmth wherever, whenever.

Full Body Check-In (2-4 min)

We’re going to take our time with this breath. Inhaling through the nose, filling the body, feeling it expand. Exhaling through the mouth in a slow, relaxed sigh. It’s the same basic breath you take throughout the day, unaware. But, in this moment, it’s all you focus on. In slow, out slower, repeat.

When you’re ready, call on the feeling of ‘warmth’ and notice what comes up. What visual begins to form in your mind?

Where are you?

What do you see? Hear? Feel?

Are you with anyone or by yourself?

In your mind, repeat the word ‘warmth’ like a quiet chant as you breathe.

For me, I’m at home. It’s early morning, quiet. I’m cuddled up in a chair with my tea in hand and dog on my lap. What does warmth feel like for you? Bask in it for a few moments.

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