Guest Posting: The Art of Brewing Kombucha as a Mindfulness Practice, by Lila Volkas

Lila runs Kombucha to the People. She conducts regular kombucha brewing workshops. This blog posting was originally published on her website and is reprinted here with her express permission.

Bringing mindfulness to a kitchen ritual, like brewing kombucha, can help us direct our attention and cultivate more peace, gratitude, and joy in our life. We may often catch ourselves in a storm of thought loops and reactions. If we are caught up in the past or the future we are not tuned in to what we are sensing in the present. We can use the power of feeling, touching, seeing, hearing, and tasting to settle in the current moment. 

One tool to find more peace in our internal world is to deliberately focus on an activity.

Whether it’s our breath, walking or cooking something, we can bring our awareness to our body sensations to draw us back to the now.

The process of making a primary fermentation of kombucha is the same every time. You brew the tea, add sugar, let it cool and pour it into your brewing vessel. After you get the hang of the process, you can relax and enjoy the dance around the kitchen. From listening to the sound of the water boiling to stirring sugar in the pot with a spoon, there are so many small rituals to pay attention to.

The relationship I have with my slimy jellyfish-like kombucha brewing organisms (known as a SCOBY: a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) is also one that reminds me to slow down and check-in with myself.

4 Ways Brewing Kombucha Facilitates Mindfulness

  1. Observing my kombucha SCOBY’s growth. Every few days I remove my cloth cover and peek into my kombucha brewing vessel to check how my slightly strange, but also somewhat endearing SCOBY is growing. Is a new layer growing? Are there any bubbles building underneath the mat of cells? The simple act of observation can be a mindfulness practice because it helps me focus my attention on the present moment.
  2. Feel the web of connection. Brewing kombucha reminds me that we are all connected. I was gifted with my kombucha organism in 2012 and have given pieces to hundreds of people all around the world through my kombucha brewing workshop. Every time I make kombucha I am taken out of my own story and am reminded of how many people are doing the same thing in their kitchens across the country (and around the world). I feel a loving presence in my heart and like my sense of self expands to encompass all the people who have attended my workshops. 
  3. Accept the imperfections of the SCOBY. Sometimes the top layer of my SCOBY is a beautiful milky white and is as smooth as an ice skating rink. Other times my SCOBY is bumpy, textured, or fused in a strange way with the layer underneath. Unless the SCOBY has furry mold growing on it or is totally dried out, then its a healthy SCOBY. This practice helps me be less critical of visual “imperfections,” which positively ripples out to a less judgemental way I talk to myself about my own thoughts. 
  4. Express gratitude for the gift that keeps giving. The kombucha organism is a humble mat of cells that doesn’t really need very much. A nice brewing vessel, tea, sugar and a dark place to live. I have been brewing kombucha regularly since 2012 and have enough SCOBYs to share with my hundreds of workshop attendees. Every time I make kombucha I give a deep bow of gratitude to this organism that embodies bountifulness (sometimes too many SCOBYs!) and I am reminded of all the abundance in my life. ​

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