What if you could eat or drink your way to mindfulness? Aisha Chottani believes a functional diet is an important element in achieving mindfulness holistically and finding mental balance. After struggling to find calm in the hectic world of consulting, Chottani founded Moment as a way to “drink your meditation.”

Below, Chottani catches up with us about mental health diets, why she hopes consumers will look beyond Moment when crafting their mindfulness practice, and why Moment is a product for our times.

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What is Moment?

Quite simply, Moment is a natural botanical beverage that reduces stress and generates the same feeling as meditation.

What was your inspiration for launching Moment?

The idea for Moment started when I was working in a stressful management consulting job. My afternoons would be filled with notifications, deadlines and to-do lists and everything around me would be sugary and caffeinated. In the afternoons when I wanted a break, I would end up having coffee and that would just make me more anxious. So, I started building rituals for myself related to meditation and mindfulness and started incorporating some of the active ingredients that my parents had when I was growing up. (I grew up in the Middle East and South Asia, where medicine is almost always preventative.)

I started replacing my caffeinated and sugary drinks [with functional ingredients] and noticed the impact it had on me. I am of the strong opinion that you can be your best self through a calm mind—you don’t need caffeine. So, I would speak to my teams, and I would tell them, “Hey, [if you want to feel less stressed], this is the routine you need to follow: get up in the morning, meditate for 15 minutes, and in the afternoons replace your coffee with better ingredients.” But people found it very difficult. Everyone understood the benefits of [meditation], but actually getting into it was very difficult. Plus, finding adaptogens was challenging—they’re not easily available—and then mixing them in a way that you get something tasty wasn’t easy. So I decided that I was going to leave consulting and I made this my full-time job.

What are some of the ingredients that make Moment effective?

There are three different categories of ingredients that we use in Moment. There is a category that is purely for the functional benefits I have described; to help your body rebalance stress and help your brain enhance its functioning. And then there is a second category of ingredients which is more for the vitality benefits; they help ensure that your body is in a good state so that the adaptogens can be more effective. And lastly, there is a set of ingredients that we use for taste.

I’m going to go into more depth on the functional ingredients: we use two types of functional ingredients, adaptogens and nootropics. Adaptogens are herbs that help your body adapt to a variety of stressors—physical, emotional, environmental. They operate like a thermostat. If your body is down because of stress, they’ll help pull it up, and if your body is super activated or hyper, they’ll calm it down.

However, we didn’t just want to provide stress release, we wanted to help people during busy workdays, so we also use nootropics such as l-theanine, which enhance brain functioning in a natural way. That’s the whole purpose of nootropics, they affect your cognitive performance, whereas adaptogens focus on reducing both mental and physical stress.

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How do you see Moment fitting into a broader mindfulness practice?

One aspect of Moment is the functional product, and then there’s another aspect, which is what it represents. For us, the concept of ‘taking a moment’ was to urge people to take a minute away from a busy day, and then be able to provide a product that allows you to relieve stress while you take that break. That’s why we chose the name ‘Moment.’ Everything that we’ve done in terms of the overall customer experience is to reinforce that—including the way the cans have been designed with these gentle fades and a soft tactility.

We also have an SMS-based meditation club. At 3pm every day you’ll get a little doodle, for example, or you can listen to the sound of the waves for a minute. It’s a fun, easy take on meditation, to let your mind relax and then you go back to whatever you’re doing. The idea is to build a bridge because sometimes people find it difficult to get into the habit of what we have traditionally called meditation.

You don’t just have to have the beverage. We’re trying to create a broader community around this idea of taking a couple of minutes away to rebalance yourself.

You describe Moment as a way to “drink your meditation.” What does that mean?

Our formulation activates the same brain waves that meditation does. If you meditate continuously for a couple of weeks, you’ll start to see that you’re much more creative, you can concentrate better, etc. The functional ingredients in Moment have a similar effect on your brain, which is why we have framed it as ‘drinking your meditation.’

It’s not to say you should stop meditating, or if you drink this you don’t need to meditate. [Moment] is a gateway into meditation and the effect it has on your body and your mind.

Why do you think Moment is the drink for our times?

It’s interesting, there are so many different evidence points that are coming up now because of everything that the world has gone through over the last year. But I recently read a study by Microsoft looking at the impact on your brain of back-to-back Zoom meetings. They actually studied the brains of people who are in back-to-back meetings, and they were in the red zone completely. When your brain is in the red zone, it’s always going to be panicked, it’s going to be frazzled, it just can’t perform well. Versus people who would take a couple of minutes away in between meetings—their brains were in the blue zone. [Ed note: the colors correspond to electrical activity in the brain measured using EEG and indicate stress level].

The world had to, unfortunately, go through a lot to realize how important it is to incorporate mindful practices into your day, every day, for long-term mental health.

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How does Moment link physical and mental health?

When crafting Moment, we wanted to combine physical and mental health. It wasn’t just about your mind; it was also important to make sure it’s actually a healthy product. Moment has no added sugar, it has all-natural ingredients, and it has low calories, because it’s really important for your body to be in tune.

Physical and mental health go hand in hand. Over the long term, you can’t achieve one without the other; you need both. In the short term, sure, you can do things to get only one or the other, but over time you need both, and that’s how we designed Moment.

Do you think that food and drink companies should be helping people eat for their mental health alongside their physical health? Will we start seeing things like mental health diets?

100%. Companies have so much power in society, that I think they do have an obligation to use that influence in the right way.

COVID has really pushed the narrative. It is now acceptable to need a mental break, or to not be ok—and to talk about it. A lot of people—celebrities, influencers—are now starting to talk about their mental health and what they’ve gone through, so now there is this dialogue that I feel is going to prompt people to start incorporating more functional ingredients [into their diets].

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What’s next for Moment?

In terms of the product itself, we are continuing to innovate and think of new formulations and experiences to help people be more mindful.

In terms of our overall company and our vision, right now we are partnering with Victoria’s Secret Pink to launch a flavor together. As we speak, we are in the month of May, which is mental health awareness month, and we did this as a way to drive awareness around mental health. We want to keep partnering with like-minded organizations to continue this dialogue and improve mental health over the long term.

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