Tea Meditation

Happy Tuesday Tea People! I hope the beginning of your week has been wonderful! I don’t know about all of you, but as the first quarter of the year comes to a close I have noticed that I have been feeling very anxious, unsettled, and just a bit restless. I’m not sure if this is attributed to the changing of seasons, taxes being due, or just the all around uncertainty and angst that comes along with being a young adult in our day and age. Whatever it may be, I have been seeking out all the recommended outlets to promote calmness and relaxation. Fortunately and, I suppose, not so coincidentally, I am extremely blessed to work at a place with a slogan such as “Relax, Refresh, Rejuvenate.” When combining my search for a solution to my unsentimental and my love of the work I do at Good Life Tea I was elated to discover that such a thing as “Tea Meditation” exists!

Full disclosure, due to these feelings of angst and restlessness I have also explored activities such as yoga, diaphragmatic breathing, art therapy, and meditation. All of these activities had wonderful results and I highly recommend! I will simply just be covering meditation in this blog post! When exploring meditation, I stumbled upon what is known as “Tea Meditation” and thought, “How wonderful! A solution that incorporates something that I already love so much!”.  

Tea Meditation is a practice that is over 900 years old! It originated in Japan and is included under the umbrella of Zen meditation. Zen meditation focuses essentially on insights into the mindfulness and nature of existence as beings. It is what most people picture of when thinking of meditation. It involves being completely present in each moment and aware of the uniqueness and briefness of these moments. More so, it focuses on the gratefulness for each moment and what is allowed to us in our beautiful lives. In reading and learning about this Zen meditation and how tea is then incorporated into it I was incredibly eager to give it a try! 

Tea meditation begins with the preparation of the tea. It doesn’t make a difference how you choose to prepare your tea, which tea you choose, or what you choose to drink your tea out of; what matters is that you are completely present and aware in the moments that you are preparing your tea and that you give yourself completely to the process. You should be mindful of each step of preparation (boiling the water, preparing your infuser, adding your milk/cream or sugar, etc). If you notice your mind wandering, simply acknowledge the thought in the moment and return to your objective of meditation. 

Once your tea is prepared, find yourself a nice, quiet spot to sit where you can be present and enjoy it. I often find myself choosing to be beside a window in these past few days when we have had sunshine and warmth! Once seated, take a moment to just appreciate the tea before drinking it. Notice the aromas, the color and texture. Take a moment to realize that the leaves used to make this cup of tea most likely came from another country and, furthermore, to realize that you are fortunate enough to live where there is running, clean water. Embrace this moment of full and complete gratitude and sit with it for a moment before you begin to sip your tea. 

As you begin to sip your tea, remember to be present in each and every moment and to take this process slowly. Begin by taking small sips and concentrating on each individual action of drinking the tea (i.e. raising your arm, opening your lips, pouring into your mouth, swallowing, etc.). Take a few mindful breathes in between each sip and just sit with your self concentrating on the moment at hand. Again, if you notice your mind wandering, acknowledge these thoughts and then return to the meditative repetition of your sips. 

To finish your meditation, again show gratitude and give thanks. Give thanks for the process of meditation and the peace that it has brought you to start your day. Give thanks for the health benefits that both meditation and tea provide. Give thanks for the opportunities that will fill the day ahead of you. Your meditative process can take as little as five minutes to as long as an hour or so depending on your personal preference. Feel free to experiment with different lengths. 

I have tried this morning relaxation ritual for a little over a week now, and I will tell you it has truly been a beautiful beginning to my days. It allows me to clear my mind of all the things that having been causing me angst, even for a short period of time and show gratitude for the things that can be overlooked due to this stress. I highly recommend it to all of you and would love to hear your feedback on any suggestions you may have to add! If you have any other daily rituals or activities you participate in that have helped you find peace, please comment and share them with us all as well! Stay dry as we have rain heading our way and curl up with a cup of tea! — Kay-tea

The Power of Tea Meditation

“Why would people spend two hours drinking just one cup of tea?’ Time has much more value than money – time is life. In two hours of drinking tea together, we don’t get money, but we do get life.” – Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Zen Master

I started to feel something stir within my tea quite some time before I actually worked in tea professionally.

Around 2001 or 2002, I took up the pleasant habit of taking an afternoon break with tea on the patio at my work. In my life before tea, I worked in a newsroom, producing newscasts and writing stories for shows. I lived in Las Vegas. As you might imagine, this was indeed a rather tense and stressful job, to put it mildly. About an hour before the show, I would take some time alone to sit outside and drink tea quietly.

Back then I only had access to tea bags. Carefully, I would tear them open just a little to release some of the tiny leaves inside, and I would observe how they moved in the water. I could also see how they flowed and moved beneath the infused paper. Their small, flattish shape and bright color struck me as similar to the leafy canopy overhead, if I concentrated my sight on the very top leaves of the tree.

There was a connection – green life in my cup, green life above in the branches.

As the warm, late afternoon desert breeze rustled around the leaves and branches, the tea in my cup moved to its own motion in the water. Soothing, rhythmic, yet somehow also distinctly still and quiet. At the time, I had no vocabulary for this experience or state of mind. I only knew that it helped me when it came time to step into the control room and go live.

The Way of Tea

There is a popular quote among st tea practitioners in Japanese traditions: “The taste of Tea and Zen are one.” This opens the door to an understanding that earnestly practicing tea, with your whole mind and heart, is equal effort to time spent on a meditation cushion. Tea is about abiding in the present moment, witnessing the reactive mind, and calmly learning to accept and be with what is. Such ideas are not limited only to Japan’s teachings and history, but can also be found at the core of intentional tea living and tea sharing throughout Asia, including China, Korea and Vietnam.

To offer the simplest explanation, tea is considered a “Way” (dao), a path of deep study or devotion that carries you in this life. Tea is one of many such traditional Ways that one might practice, in this line of thinking. And there really is that much to learn from tea – more than a lifetime. Note this is not referring to technical, industrial or academic knowledge; this is the study of how tea is an expression of inter-being and inter-relationships. Relationship between Self and Tea, as well as Self and others when preparing and serving tea, and in time, seeing that there really are no lines between any of these. Understanding any of this in a viscerally felt level all takes time, and so, it is a Way. You live it, like yoga.

Pema Chödrön, an American Buddhist nun of Tibetan lineage, says, “The essence of meditation is training in something that is quite radical and definitely not the habitual pattern of the species: And that is to stay with ourselves no matter what is happening, without putting labels of good and bad, right and wrong, pure and impure, on top of our experience.” This can be practiced with every cup of tea we make with intention. Thich Nhat Hanh (or “Thay” to his students, which means teacher), a Vietnamese Zen monk I draw much inspiration from, teaches that every activity of our waking life – washing dishes, peeling an orange, walking to the bus, and yes, drinking tea – can also be a living meditation.

The intended roots are worth pointing out specifically because for the many people interested in – and perhaps struggling with – practices of meditation or mindfulness, it’s helpful to know that there are actually many ways forward in such an endeavor. Tea is one of them.

Living Meditation in Stressful Times

From a psychologically and trauma sensitive point of view, this is crucial for modern living, as there are so many people suffering under unbearably high levels of stress, trauma and also chronic pain. Feeling disconnected from the body is a common complaint. About 80 percent of visits to primary care doctors have a significant, stress-based component (Avery, 2003, Journal of the National Medical Association). Meditation has been shown to reduce stress, ease depression, and improve immune functionality, and that’s just a modest start. But for any number of very real reasons – chronic pain, anxiety, previous exposure to trauma – sitting in rigid stillness with folded legs and shut eyes is simply not an accessible, appropriate or supportive method for all people.

The answer is not to try harder in a manner that is not serving – it’s to try to practice in a way that helps us feel safe and supported. Notably, Thay says, “Applying non-violence to your body is not merely a means to practice mindfulness – it is a practice in itself.”

Neuropsychologist Rick Hanson PH.D and neurologist Richard Mendius MD explain, “Deliberately feeling safer helps control the hardwired tendency to look for and overreact to threats.” Without an ability to feel safe while living under sustained stress, this vigilance against possible threat can easily become a constant, crippling burden.

To work through this, we can focus on nurturing the antidote to negativity (gratitude) and deliberately creating safety. Intentional acts of creating safety can include physically relaxing the body, using positive imagery, and finding refuges in people or places. “As you rest increasingly in a background sense of refuge, neurons are quietly stitching a safety net for you.” (Hanson & Mendius)

Drinking tea during a meditation session can be a safe harbor, where you can use your full senses to reconnect, explore and understand yourself and soothe your reactions. The dedicated portion of time is the safe harbor, as is the physical place you create for the practice. Tea becomes a way to welcome you home again to body and mind. A place where you can touch gratitude. Here, you experience tea as though it is the first cup you’ve ever really had, opening the heart to other possibilities that clear-eyed mindfulness can bring.

Meditation WITH Tea

It starts with bringing intention to the tea you wish to sit with today, and how you will prepare it. Finding a space where you can sit comfortably and uninterrupted. Taking time to really notice each step that you’re taking with your tea.

Placing the leaves carefully inside the pot, hearing the soft crinkling noise they make as they are set down. Pause.

Enjoying how the sound of the kettle shifts in rumble and pitch as the temperature rises slowly. Observe any note of wanting the kettle to go faster, or mentally skipping ahead to imagine yourself drinking tea. Pause to practice non-judgment.

The steam that unfurls in wispy curls as water is poured over the leaves, releasing the faintest of sounds and the most fragrant of aromas. Pause and observe these quiet offerings as they fade into the air.

The feeling of patience as you sit and wait, calmly with your hands at complete rest, for the tea. Pause and notice any flickers of future thoughts or past ruminating, calmly setting them aside.

The bright, cheerful noise of tea being decanted, flowing from pot to cup. Pause and notice the echo that lingers.

The deep warmth seeping into palm and finger muscles as you curl your hands around the cup of tea. Pause and touch gratitude.

Warm breath coming in with your inhale, tension releasing on your exhale. Pause between inhale and exhale, feeling your breathing muscles.

Tea Meditation – How to find calm with a cup of tea

Tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world, after water. Tea has powerful benefits for body and mind. The tea ceremony itself can be a perfect moment to relax your mind and to introduce you to the tea meditation time.

Tea is much more than just a drink, it’s powerful and if you make time to pay attention to it, you start to understand it more. Just the thought of a warm cup of tea gives me a cozy feeling and puts a big smile on my face.

I’ll tell you below how to do that and how to get back to the present moment by just enjoying a simple cup of meditative tea.

This drink has been known for its benefits for ages, and one of them is the calming effect. But it’s not only calming for your body due to its composition. It can be calming for your mind as well if you allow yourself to enjoy every step of making and drinking it and to be present in the moment. Taking time to slowly enjoy your tea will teach you how to increase your awareness and how to live in the “now”. Every time you make another cup of tea can be one step closer to becoming more mindful.

What is a tea meditation?

Someone perfectly described that enjoying a teacup is like a “cuddly little adventure”. And it’s so true! But to get to this magical feeling, you need to allow yourself some time in your day. Time to focus on the simplicity of every single step of the tea ceremony meditation.

The tea meditation starts with the moment when you decide to make yourself a tea and you’re heading towards your kettle. You already made the first step for achieving a bit of calm in your day. It means you stopped whatever you were doing and you can use this time to clear your mind.

Many of us might consider they need more time to clear your head than just the time it takes to make a cup of tea. But I’ll show you step by step how to enjoy the experience and you’ll see how this small thing can brighten up your day. It has the power to change your state of mind and to clear your thoughts.

How to do a tea meditation

A simple tea meditation can be just following the below steps. But I also have some tea meditation scripts which you can read next to your cup of tea. They will guide your mind and thoughts to help you to reach faster a calm and meditative state.

How to Be Mindful With a Cup of Tea

When it’s difficult to meditate, you can build moments of mindfulness into the day through simple activities like brewing and enjoying a cup of tea.

Bringing mindfulness to simple activities like drinking tea trains us to direct attention consciously. We might think we choose what we’re paying attention to in life, but in reality most of us are driven by habit and impulse. By deliberately choosing to attend to an activity, we slow things down and let ourselves become aware of the process of attending and perhaps how little control we usually have over it. We might notice the repeated wandering of the mind as we attempt to stay with what’s happening right now.

We are learning to see what’s often obscured by distraction. By coming back repeatedly to the various aspects of tea-drinking, we are cultivating the capacity to focus. And because we’re practicing this with gentleness, without judging ourselves or striving to reach some goal (even the goal of becoming better at paying attention), we are simultaneously training in acceptance and compassion.We are learning to see what’s often obscured by distraction.

Mindfulness means paying attention with the senses, in the body—feeling, touching, seeing, hearing, and tasting. Sensing always happens within the body and in the present moment (you can’t feel something in your thoughts, or in the past or future), so this tuning in to sensing helps to bring us into the reality of here and now. Sensing mindfully thus creates a space where we can experience what is happening, rather than what we think should happen or what has already happened. It’s a chance to practice resting the analytical mind that habitually searches for solutions, even when none is available.

We are also practicing conscious choice. By watching how we make simple decisions—pouring water, disposing of a teabag, swallowing—we are bringing a deliberate awareness to activities that are often performed half-asleep. (Have you ever found yourself putting milk in a friend’s preferred black tea just because that’s how you take it yourself?) If we are unaware of how we get caught up, it’s impossible to become free. But if we can start to practice seeing when we are acting on autopilot, through force of habit, or on impulse, we have already created the possibility of something different. We are starting to know what we are doing as we are doing it. This knowledge can begin with tea-drinking, and can then expand to every aspect of life.

Mindful tea-drinking practice

If you are feeling very depressed or anxious, even short periods of meditation can seem overwhelming at first. So bringing mindfulness to everyday activities such as drinking a cup of tea, cleaning your teeth, or going for a walk is a gentle way to begin. It’s also a helpful way to develop your practice. Below are a few suggestions on how to practice mindful tea-drinking. Obviously, you can make and drink the tea in any way you like, or you can replace it with another regular activity. The important thing is to let go into seeing, feeling, tasting, touching, and hearing, and to return gently to the senses whenever you notice the mind straying into thought.

1. Pay attention to the sound of the water heating and boiling in the kettle. Hear its bubbling and gurgling. Can you see wisps of steam coming from the spout? Does the kettle subtly shake from the movement of the water inside? Be open to your senses, rather than try to analyze what’s happening

Drinking tea can be more than simply imbibing a warm beverage. Make it a meditation in and of itself. These five meditations will guide you through drinking your tea from start to finish.

As you know, a watched pot never boils. But a pot that’s been put on the stove or a microwave that’s been set to heat your water provides the perfect opportunity for a short gratitude meditation.

Each element of preparing tea has the potential to be a moment for mindfulness. Let this ritual begin as soon as you decide to have a cup of tea, whether it’s first thing in the morning, an afternoon pick-me-up, or right before bed. If possible, allow this 10-ish minute ritual be the only thing you’re doing. Multitasking is overrated and impossible.

Waiting for the Water to Get Hot

As you await hot water to steep your tea, sit in a chair with your feet on the floor. Rest your hands on your knees with palms facing up. This is a gesture of openness and an invitation to the universe to provide abundance. Close your eyes or have them just a quarter of the way open. Receive a big breath and consider this:

As I breathe in, I invite in abundance. As I breathe out, I offer gratitude. I am grateful for this sweet moment to pause and breathe deeply. I am grateful for this time to be still and prepare tea. I am grateful for this space to treat myself to a warm, nourishing drink. I offer gratitude to everyone who has contributed to making this moment possible. I am grateful for this home and the roof over my head. I am grateful for this day and all the possibilities of being alive.

Choose Your Tea

Sit quietly and breathe until your water is boiling. When your water is ready, choose a mug. Pick one that brings you easy joy. It may have been a gift from someone special, a souvenir from a great trip, a handmade piece of ceramic art, or simply a mug that is beautiful to you. Then choose your tea. Whether it’s loose leaf, bagged, or freshly picked herbs, choose a flavor that delights your senses. Some flavors to try during the colder winter months include ginger (to stoke the digestive fire), chai (with nutmeg or cinnamon for inner warmth), or St. John’s Wort (may help ward off depression or seasonal sadness). As you prepare your tea with mindfulness, invite in a big breath and consider this:

As I breathe in, I invite in abundance. As I breathe out, I offer gratitude. I consider those individuals who planted, grew, and harvested the herbs and flowers in my tea. I offer thanks to the soil, the sun, and the water that made this harvest possible. I offer thanks to the planet and the area I live in for clean drinking water. I wait patiently for the delight of the first taste of tea on my tongue.

Sniff the Scents

Find a comfortable place to sit—inside or outside. Hold your mug in both hands. Bring your nose close to the steaming water and sniff the scents in the tea. Tenderly hold your warm tea and enjoy this olfactory journey: 

As I breathe in, I invite in abundance. As I breathe out, I offer gratitude. What scents do I notice? What do they remind me of? Where does this scent take me, emotionally? How do I feel in my body as I drink in these deep, full breaths? What sensations are present on my tongue and in the back of my throat, even before I take my first sip? How do my hands feel wrapped around the warm mug? As I breathe in, I imagine warmth and nourishment being drawn in. As I breathe out, I imagine sending out that warmth and nourishment to the world.

Your First Sips

When your tea has steeped long enough for your taste and cooled enough to drink, bring your mug to your lips and enjoy a sip. Set your mug down for a few moments every few sips, close your eyes, and consider this:

As I breathe in, I invite in abundance. As I breathe out, I offer gratitude. What flavors do I notice on my tongue? What do they remind me of? How does it feel as the warm water moves into my throat? How does it feel as the warm water travels down into my body? As I drink my tea I am practicing self-compassion and self-care. As I fill my own cup I am nourished with love.

The Last Sip

As you finish your tea and take the last gulp, set an intention for the next part of your day or week. Sit with your feet firmly planted on the ground. Rest your hands on your knees with palms facing up. This is a gesture of grounding, balance, and completion. Honor yourself for taking the time to nurture your body and mind and call in an intention:

As I breathe in, I invite in abundance. As I breathe out, I offer gratitude. As I move forward into my day I call in compassion, kindness, peace, and love. As I step into the rest of my life I call in clarity and manifestation. I invite and invoke all my best intentions and allow them to guide me. As I breathe in, I invite in abundance. As I breathe out, I offer gratitude.

Lena Schmidt

Certified Yoga Instructor Whether it’s exploring the local trails, playing pretzel on the yoga mat, or diving into a book on inner peace, Lena loves an adventure. You can find her teaching yoga in San Diego, leading retreats near and far, and empowering others to be the change they wish to see in the world. Learn more about Lena at WWW.yoginilena.com . The spiritual aspects of yoga have aided Lena in the never-ending search for peace, calm, and positivity within, and she’s passionate about sharing these tools with others. She is intentional about taking yoga off the mat and loves finding the bridges between the heart and mind, the individual and community, and

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