Zen and the art of Making Tea
Howdy folks - TeaMonkey here
I read an article not long ago about meditation, and how the Modern Person just doesn't have enough hours in the day for such a thing. Between Kids in the morning, Traffic getting to work, 8-12 hours at the office, Traffic coming home from work, Putting dinner on the table, Spending some quality time with the family/spouse, and 4-6 hours of sleep per night, it is no WONDER that you don't have the time to sit down for 20 minutes and clear your head. Just writing about that makes me feel claustrophobic in the clock.
The article put out by the Huffington Post, offers up that in some traditional cultures (IE: eastern, specifically Japanese) people use their daily actions to meditate. Taking the time to do SOMETHING with a clear mind, and intent on JUST the action. Not planning on what is for dinner, or the business meeting that afternoon, and certainly not how they can afford Little Suzy's dance lessons. Just Being.
So how does this relate to tea?
Set the Wayback Machine, Sherman. We are off to Feudal Japan.
Imagine yourself sitting in a room - you can see everything going on, but the world doesn't notice that you exist right now. You are simply a fly on the wall of a VERY well appointed room.
A man enters, very stern faced, from his dress and carriage he is a lord of some sort. He kneels on a mat at a small table and calmly waits, not moving.
Presently, a woman enters. She is dressed well for the time, she carries a tray with various cups and pots on it. She is also silent, as she sets herself to the side of the table and places her accoutrement just so. A silent bow from her to him, and the Service of Tea begins.
The entire process is silent, except for the gentle rustle of clothes, or the clink of the crockery. As you watch the process, you realize that The Lord hasn't acknowledged anything about the room around him, or the actions in front of him at all. He just sits, with a passive look, his eyes mostly closed, as though dreaming. The woman, simalarly, seems to be either paying no attention at all to the preparation of the tea, yet doing it flawlessly. Or, her focus is her actions at hand, to the exclusion of everything else. Could two people, from the complete opposite ends of the caste system be doing the exact same thing, simply because of a cup of tea?
Lets come back to right now.
Have you ever gotten so involved in doing something, that you weren't actually thinking about it, but just doing it? And the moment that you finished, the rest of the world came into sharp focus - the colors just a bit brighter, the smells a little bit richer, your mind feels like it was just scrubbed clean? Well done. You just brought me to my point. Meditation is is not avoiding activity so that you can just think of nothing. More, it is a state of COMPLETE activity to the exclusion of worry.
It's time to get practical.
The next time you make a cup of tea, go through the entire process with a complete and whole intention. Fill your kettle with water, and then stand there and do nothing except watch it boil. Don't think about lunch, or dance lessons, or the football game. Just wait for the water to boil. Then get your cup. Feel yourself reaching for the cup, the weight of it, the texture. That cup is everything you need for this moment. THIS moment. Don't worry about what tea you are going to put in it, that is for the next moment. RIGHT NOW it is just you and the cup. Breathe.
Now is the moment for the tea.
Pick a tea. Any tea. Especially Dryad Tea. But any tea will do in a pinch. Same as with the cup, THIS is the moment for your tea. The moment for the cup and the water has passed, they are already dealt with, so you don't need to think about them anymore. Just the tea. Smell it, feel it, stick the bag up to your ear and LISTEN to it. Everything in this moment is sbout the tea.
Now we bring everything together. Tea in Water in Cup. Three perfect moments that you have experienced, leading into another. Wait. Watch the tea steep into the water. Don't worry about the dog, or taxes, or about Little Johnny's spelling test. Right now, it is just you, and the culmination of a series of beautiful moments. Keep breathing.
When it is time, take the tea from the water, and enjoy. Feel the world come into that nice sharp, fresh-scrubbed focus. You have just taken time to meditate, all while doing something that you would have done anyhow.
Link to the Huffington Post article: