Tea Time: To Experience Awareness
“Delightful and earthy steaming balm in the cool air med-tea-tation time.” ~ Suresh Gundappa
This month we have been looking at ways to incorporate meditation and mindfulness practices into our daily routines. For individuals who have difficulty sitting in silence or even for those of us who need to switch it up to slow us down, how about a morning, afternoon, or evening tea break?
For those of us with a strong Air Element or predominant Mercury in our charts, it can be difficult for us to slow down – our minds are always running and thinking! Thanks to our friends with Taurus and Cancer clout who naturally know how to do this, we can learn from their Moon and Venus attributes of sensitivity and nurturing.
The tea ceremony is an ancient practice dating back to 16th century Japan. Like astrology, the tea ceremony began long, long ago and now extends to many cultures. Its origins and ceremonies are of course much more elaborate than what I present here, however, the basic traditions are simple enough to create a mindful break in our day-to-day lifestyle.
The first step is to find a space that provides little distraction. Traditionally the tea house is simple and made of natural materials such as wood and bamboo. The ceremony itself has no purpose other than to create a natural and serene setting to connect us to our inner-self and that of others, as tea was originally acknowledged for its medicinal, social, and devotional aspects. It is an opportunity for an honest appraisal and contemplation of the way things are.
Research by McCoy found that tea does have a medicinal contribution in helping to prevent disease and promote longevity as a result of the antioxidant EGCg. In an article by Sheila Fling she notes that the Chado tea ceremony is, “To encourage recognition of our great sensitivity to cycles and rhythms of nature, seasonal changes, always reminding of a unified Cosmos, ones "place" in it, and the constant flow of change.” A ritual that can reconnect us to others and that which we devote ourselves to.
Depending on the type of ceremony, it can include a piece of art or simple flower arrangement. If a focal point is helpful, it may be as simple as placing a leaf in front of you, sitting in a chair by a window with a view of nature, or setting a cherished photo on a table nearby. Whatever sets the stage to help us see more of the internal “nature” of our own being - to gain further understanding to the incredible mystery that we hold within.
Certainly I encourage sharing tea time with others, but in setting up this practice join me in creating a party for one, so that as Alexandra Stoddard suggests we, “Send a signal to our soul that our life has value.” Be mindful of the whole process. Boil the water instead of using the microwave. Recognize the steam that develops from the heat, embrace the aroma of the tea, appreciate its disbursement of color and flavor into the boiling water. Feel the warmth of the water as you grasp the cup. Be aware of what is going on around and inside you in each moment, the taste, sight, sounds, and feelings of the experience of tea time.
I hope you find some solace in practicing tea time and remember:
“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. Live the actual moment. Only this moment is life.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
© Cathi Curen 2017