MAX: Here’s one way to enjoy tea with yourself, inspired by my memories of watching Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh drinking tea on a retreat.
This isn’t meant to be a method of drinking tea, so much as an inspiration for you to enjoy the moment, the tea, and yourself—as you all blend within the cup held in your two hands.
Arrange the Space
Choose a quiet (and cozy) place for your personal tea time. Whether you’re at a table or on the floor, arrange the space so that it’s clean and speaks to whatever mood or inspiration you’d like to evoke. Maybe you want to invite a more reflective, meditative feeling, or a joyous, spacious one full of light. However you arrange your space, keeping it simple and clean will encourage a clear mind and help you enjoy your tea even more.
Connect with the Heat
In the tea ceremonies we practice, the heat gives life to the gathering and to the tea, conveying its energy, healing and beautiful taste and aroma. Tending to this hearth, even if it’s an electric kettle or stove, can itself be an effortless meditation that guides you inward.
As your water heats up, sink into your breath. This is naturally a time for meditation. There’s no rush or end-goal with anything involving tea. Close your eyes, and tune into all your senses. Just allow your body relax and feel yourself arriving at this moment.
Connect with Your Heart(h)
As your mind eases into the sounds, sights and sensations of this moment, listen deeper still to the messages coming your deepest self. Place your hands over your heart, if you like. Let these messages form into an intention, if it feels right. Maybe you wish to grow a sense of gratitude as you enjoy tea; maybe you wish to give love to yourself or someone else through your tea; or perhaps you are working on healing something or letting go.
Try placing your hands on or just above the tea kettle, and close your eyes. Let your heart’s intentions meld with the heat of the water. Then, take those hands back to your heart, and feel the warmth sink into your chest and amplify your thoughts there. Feel that this heat conveys not only the essence of the tea, but your own heart and mind.
As you pour the water, pour the tea, and sip the tea, try using both hands. It may feel awkward at first, but you’ll find your way. Try to relax your shoulders and feel a sense of grace with how your arms move, as if you’re practicing Tai Chi.
Using both hands, your focus rests right in front of you, and everything you handle joins a circle that connects back to your heart. This connection is real and can be a great way to invite more of your presence into whatever you do.
Before you steep the tea leaves for each pour, take a moment to restill your thoughts and center in on your intention. Let the warmth of this intention infuse into the leaves as you steep them.
Drink In YOU
As you drink the tea, try using two hands as well! With your shoulders relaxed and some space between your body and elbows, the tea is centered in front of you and level with your heart. If you have a teacup, you can try holding it between your palms, with your fingers lightly touching. It’s almost like your tea becomes a prayer 🙂 Also, he warmth enters into your body more deeply through your palms.
As you drink each cup, consciously drink in the love you’ve put into steeping the tea. Holding the cup like this, you might find pleasure in drinking more slowly, letting the steam and aroma rise to warm your face, as you notice your breath to naturally become slow and relaxed.
Sit in Your Peace
When you’re finished, try repeating the step of warming your hands around or on the kettle, and bringing that warmth to your heart. Feel how much more deeply you can take in the peace, depth, and richness of this moment—and yourself! Take a few breaths to feel gratitude for this time and however you’re feeling now, knowing you’ll take it with you when you get up.
With the same care you took to prepare your tea, rinse, dry and put all your teaware back away.
As You Are
With all things tea, it’s nice to be natural. Tea can be deep and meditative, or joyful and light, depending on however you feel in the moment. It has the ability to graciously meet you where you are, and bring out your highest potential of creativity, love, or wisdom right NOW. Enjoy your tea, and enjoy yourSELF!
From the Hearth
Max & Lily