Seven Cups of Tea

I grew up in a home of rebel-academics, deep thinkers and psychologists. It isn’t uncommon for dinner table talk to linger on disassociative identity disorder, legalisation of marijuana and its effect on the informal economy, or my personal favourite; sex and sexuality. Zero “how was your day” or “how’s about them interest rates” conversation fodder for us. My 18th birthday card, given to me by my grandpa, included a hand-written summary of Gestalt psychology just below the “Happy birthday precious granddaughter” message the card-maker assumed would suffice. 

Talking about “issues” close to our hearts is so commonplace in my family that when we have nothing to rave about, we don’t speak to each other. Unless, of course the thing we’re raving about involves other family members; in which case the issue is expressed through passive-aggressive (and really well-written) emails. Whoever said that “sticks ‘n stones” thing clearly hadn’t received an eloquently crafted Gmail shit-out.

Having shrinks in the family means I’ve taken every test under the psychometric sun and have, *fortunately, been declared certifiably sane. And it means I overthink everything and have little in my arsenal when it comes to making small-talk. But what it also means is when I really do need a shoulder to cry on or a safe space to express my most paranoid thoughts and feelings, I have easy access to qualified help. How do most people manage their emotional stress? Who do they turn to for sound advice or objective guidance? – Especially those who detest conventional psychology.

On Sunday I got a message from my friend Nicky saying how she’d just helped a woman through five hours of labour (and all I did was nurse a hangover). The woman had no one in her life to guide her through one of the most phenomenal, traumatic, life-changing human experiences. She was lying in a hospital on the opposite side of the world and Nicky was in her living room, calming her down, lending an ear, reminding her to breathe; all via this remarkable app called 7Cups (of tea).

The app is described as an online emotional support service, through a secure, anonymous bridging technology. The app connects anyone with a network of Active Listeners, individuals from all walks of life who want to provide compassionate care. Connections to Listeners are private, one-on-one conversations initiated on demand.

Anyone can sign up to become an Active Listener though all Listeners must successfully complete an online course, which includes a mock chat. All sessions are 100% free of charge. The only thing you would potentially be charged for is working with a qualified therapist, who you would find through the ‘Find a Therapist’ function. It’s a whole lot less expensive than actual therapy; and this way you can seek help when emotion strikes, rather than schedule your feelings to come out appropriately during a session a week from then.

While this is certainly not mental health treatment and should not be substituted for treatment with a licensed clinician, it has a huge impact on the lives of many people worldwide. If you’re a kind-hearted human being with a passion for helping others, or if you’re feeling frazzled and just need a friend to hear you out, I definitely recommend taking a look. What a time to be alive!

Why 7Cups? The name did confuse me for a bit; but the website includes this beautiful poem which sums the idea up quite nicely 🙂

7 Cups of Tea, by Lu Tong (795 – 835 CE)
The first cup kisses away my thirst,
and my loneliness is quelled by the second.
The third gives insight worthy of ancient scrolls,
and the fourth exiles my troubles.
My body becomes lighter with the fifth,
and the sixth sends word from immortals.
But the seventh—oh the seventh cup—
if I drink you, a wind will hurry my wings
toward the sacred island.

*Or unfortunately? I sometimes wish I had the ability to leap off the edge of madness to relinquish responsibility for all the idiotic things I’ve consciously done. Alas, my sane brain means I’m fully accountable for my actions so I guess I’ll just use my powers for good 😉

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