Who would have thought brewing a bowl of tea could be so insightful, so calming and so nurturing?
If you’re open to it, observing and taking part in the Japanese Tea Ceremony can transform the way we live life.
We all need something to help us unwind from the hustle and bustle of everyday life; shopping, golf, a beer at the pub.
I, however, needed a drug with a little more substance to support a life of hectic work schedules coupled with a busy social calendar.
Walking out of my first Japanese tea ceremony with a calm mind and a new perspective on life, I knew I’d found my mind body medicine.
The first time I knelt down in the tearoom I was told, The Way of Tea is so much more than an aesthetic amusement or training in etiquette.
The tea ceremony is about restoring self-awareness through letting go of the outer, to seek the inner.
It develops one’s character.
Horst Hammitzsch wrote in his book, Zen in the Art of the Tea Ceremony:‘The Tea Way is designed to bring man to the annihilation of the ego, to pave the way for the ultimate experience of enlightenment. Whisking tea is a Zen practise in the truest sense, and a spiritual exercise leading to the clear understanding of our own deeper nature.’
So what brings one to study on one’s knees for hours a time, learning more than 100 different detailed procedures for preparing and serving a bowl of tea?
As I discovered, indulging in this age-old ritual helps you think more clearly, relax, become more disciplined and beautify your interactions with others.
Tea is moving meditation, where the strict protocol forces you to engage in the here and now of the task at hand; to be present to life and absorb myself in it without thought or fear of outer, irrelevant circumstances.
It was more than an elaborate ritual; it was an interlude that allowed me to reflect on my bare self and find true tranquillity, creativity and beauty.
Sen Soshistu, the man with the most profound influence on the Way of Tea, describes ‘tasting’ a bowl of tea not just with the tongue, but also with the eyes, nose, ears, and hands.
When you utilise all your senses, pouring attention into the interactions you have with yourself and others, you are given the opportunity for self-reflection and the deepening of human relationships.
The whole process is not about drinking tea, but is about preparing a bowl of tea from one’s heart.
Practitioners are encouraged to apply their learnings to daily life by being present to every moment while noticing the beauty that surrounds us. Perhaps we could all benefit from taking The Way Of Tea approach to life.