The word is everywhere in wellness and therapy: mindfulness. But what is this trendy new word, and where did it come from? What does kava have to do with it? At Elixir Lounge, we’re all about finding our happy place, whether that means reaching mindfulness or simply enjoying a cup of kava. In this blog, we’ll explore how the two make the perfect combination. 

Understanding Mindfulness

While it may seem like another wellness trend, mindfulness has actually been around for thousands of years. The word ‘mindfulness’ gives a general idea of its definition, but Mindful suggests that the practice means “that the mind is fully attending to what’s happening, to what you’re doing, to the space you’re moving through”.

Being fully present in the moment and aware of your surroundings, feelings, and consciousness may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s harder than it sounds. Buddhist monks, for example, have practiced mindfulness for years and train tirelessly to achieve full consciousness. We’d all love to leave our anxiety behind, but unfortunately, we’re trained in it. That’s why practicing mindfulness is so important: to lower your stress levels and give you a better quality of life. 

People practice mindfulness in different ways, but the most common way to get into it is to try mediation, yoga, or other activities where the goal is to focus on your inner energy. You can even merge meditation with other activities such as sports, walking, painting, or music. The whole point is to feel the space around you fully, trying not to empty your head completely but instead let the thoughts flow in and out naturally.

What is Kava?

Kava is a drink made from roots native to the Pacific Islands and has been around for hundreds of years. Traditionally, it’s used in community rituals and celebrations, bringing everyone in the circle together for a good time. The root is usually ground up and pressed into water, creating a kind of room-temperature tea that is poured and drank from coconut shells. Today, many kava lounges and bar alternatives have popped up around the world to offer this incredible drink to people who can’t get away to Hawaii to enjoy a traditional ceremony.

Many kava drinkers say that the effects of the root kick in after a few drinks. The sensations that they describe include head and body effects, bringing out happiness and relaxation. Some kava drinkers say that they’ve completely switched from alcohol to kava because they do not experience hangovers, aggression, or other side effects commonly attributed to alcohol. In fact, many kava fans started their journey with kava after learning about it as an alternative to alcohol. 

Kava bars have become safe havens for those avoiding the messy bar scene, and it’s no wonder. Instead of the fighting and shouting you may find at a late-night bar, you’ll find laughter and music at a kava bar. Kava is usually used to combat symptoms of anxiety, stress, depression, pain, insomnia, and other unpleasant feelings. It’s even thought to be a good alternative to ‘liquid courage’, helping people feel uplifted and confident. Overall, however, kava drinkers explain that after a couple of kava drinks, they feel at peace.

How Do They Pair?

The combination of kava and mindfulness is a match made in heaven. Many who try it say that the state of mind they experience after taking kava is the perfect headspace for meditation or a similar ritual. Kava may be able to relax you, erasing your worry and stress. Often, these are the most common factors that cause people to give up on meditation. Clearing your mind can be difficult, especially when your thoughts are racing, but kava can help ease them.

A Meditation + Kava Ritual

  1. Start your ritual by preparing your kava. You can start your mindfulness practice as you prepare the kava, or you can wait until you’re ready to meditate. If you decide to start now, think about what your hands are doing. Watch how the water folds over the kava bag, pay attention to how it feels in your hands. Feel your feet on the ground and pay attention to your emotions.
  2. Drink your kava and relax. Kava takes about fifteen minutes to settle in, so enjoy your quiet time. Find somewhere comfortable to sit, like your couch or a comfortable armchair. You’ll want something that doesn’t spin or fiddle too much, so try to steer clear of office chairs or barstools.
  3. Sit with your feet planted on the floor and let your hands rest in your lap. You can close your eyes or just let them unfocus. Don’t worry about clearing your mind completely; instead, imagine that your thoughts are waves. Let them flow in and out of your mind naturally, without trying to control them.

4. Pay attention to what you’re feeling. Are you annoyed about sitting still in a chair? Are you feeling relaxed because you are comfortable? Whatever you’re feeling, remember that it is a valid thought, and don’t try to push it away.

5. As the kava starts to settle in, you might notice that your thoughts are becoming clear. Kava has been thought to help users find clarity, serenity, and calmness, so this is likely part of the kava experience. If your lips or face feel a little numb, that is a normal side effect of kava.

6. To help yourself feel centered, you can try taking deep breaths in counts. Breathe in for one, then out for one. Breathe in for two, then out for two. Repeat this until you reach ten, and then start again. Counting can help focus your brain on something other than controlling your thoughts, guiding your meditation.

7. Continue this for five to fifteen minutes, depending on how long you would like to meditate. We recommend ten minutes as this will give you enough time to settle in while not taking too long.

8. As you meditate, check your posture. Make sure you aren’t slumping over, leaning back, or letting your shoulders tense while you try to sit still. Relax your muscles.

9. As you meditate, remember your breathing counts. If you want something more challenging that will keep your focus better, count multiples of something else.

10. As you prepare to finish, keep in mind that you’ve just taken your mind and your body to a space that they aren’t used to being in. While it may seem like you haven’t done much, you need to prepare yourself for a soft landing. Keep your eyes unfocused or closed and bring yourself back to consciousness; listen to any sounds around you, like the humming of a fan or traffic noise. Squeeze your hands closed and open, wiggle your toes, and open your eyes slowly.

The Kava Bar Difference

Kava bars have been growing in popularity over the past few years. Many who run or visit them acknowledge the need for an alternative way to enjoy a night out in lieu of an alcoholic bar. Many kava drinkers who have switched to the root full-time say that they feel healthier and more in control than if they were drinking alcohol; kava has very few side effects when enjoyed in moderation, unlike alcohol, which can cause serious and even life-threatening damage.

At Elixir Lounge, we strive to provide a wholesome atmosphere where anyone can enjoy a bilo and feel like family. If you’re looking for a way to unwind on a weekend without the risks of alcohol in a socially inviting and exciting space, Elixir Lounge is the place for you! With many kava drinks, elixir teas, CBD products, and more, we have something for everyone. Come grab a bula with us and say aloha!