Tea, A Meditative Practice
"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."
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
In the early morning, when the world seems to stand still, put a few tea leaves in a bowl and pour water over them. Sit peacefully, enjoying the aroma, then sip slowly focusing on the leaves.
Tea and meditation go hand in hand. For thousands of years, Buddhist monks have long recognized the virtues of tea, its calming yet energizing effects that lift the spirit while concentrating the mind.
Tea is a journey, whether you choose to take it alone or with others. It calms the nerves as the warmth of each sip disposes of negative energy, releasing anxiety, dissolving any thought while softening muscle tension. The ritual of preparing a cup of tea, wetting the leaves and drawing out a pleasant, intoxicating aroma, takes you to another realm, one of higher consciousness.
Whether you use the classic gong fu method for steeping tea, extending the life of the leaves over multiple steeps, or you decide to put a few leaves in a traditional tea bowl, slowly pouring the water in a concentric circle from the outer edge to the center, enjoy each sip slowly and mindfully.
Here is a tea meditation. As you develop your daily practice, make it your own, and feel the calm energy of the ritual and tea itself.
All teas have a way to get you to a peaceful state. It matters not whether you choose white, green, or black, for instance. What matters is that the tea is carefully selected. according to your mental, emotional, and physical state. Your attitude will guide the meditation, the tea facilitate it.
Look out the window. Is it sunny, raining, or foggy? Notice your body. Is it warm or cold? Are you fully awakened or sleepy still? Notice how you feel and how you respond to your surroundings. Select your tea leaves, accordingly.
In a similar fashion, select your tea bowl or tea pot and cup, depending on which way you choose to steep the leaves. How does the cup feel in your hand. Truly feel it, rolling it around a bit, notice the texture, knowing that you will be warming your hands with whatever you choose for your meditation.
Decide whether you want to sit, legs criss-crossed on a pillow set on the floor, or on a chair at the table. If on the floor make sure you prop yourself up so your knees rest comfortably lower than your "seat."
At snail pace, add about 2 grams of leaves into the bowl. Starting from the outer edge working toward the center, pour the hot water over the leaves and about a third way up the side of the bowl. Watch the leaves unfurl as they release their essence into the water. Inhale the aroma. Notice the color of the water changing. Gently slurp three times, consecutively. Softly put the bowl down, replenishing the bowl with a little more water so as not to let the tea get too strong.
If seated on the floor, rest your hands in the void between your knees, palms facing up, one resting on top of the other. If seated at the table, palms facing down on table, each hand on one side of the tea bowl. Contemplate the leaves, noticing them opening ever so slowly as they continue to absorb water.
Pick up the bowl, and once again slurp three times, consecutively. Lower the bowl, and replenish with water, just a touch.
Repeat this several times as you go from water to tea and back to water again, coming full circle. When you have pulled every bit of flavor from the leaves and finishing the last drop of tea, contemplate the leaves for as long as you want. Carry this peaceful energy with you throughout the day and share it.