Tea Meditation - Meditate with Tea
There are a select few beverages in the world that have become so integral to a culture, that they become inseparable from the particular religious traditions within them. Wine is probably the first one that comes to mind as it is used in the western world as an important holy sacrament.
Tea in similar ways has evolved as an important element of many eastern spiritual traditions, particularly Buddhism, Hinduism, and sub-sects of each of these particular disciplines.
To track the spread of Tea throughout the east, one simply needs to observe the path of Buddhism. To the monks tea represented a state of being, a element of mind referred to as ‘quiet alertness.’
When one takes the cross legged position and follows the breath, it is natural for the mind to wander. Tea initially came to prominence as a medium for devoted patriarchs to practice mindful breathing for longer periods of time.
Its amazing to think of a plant as a medium to connect to the spiritual world. To the Buddhists it represented a super highway into the path of pure land; an area identified by the absence of past and future where one lives with presence in the eternal nowness of the present moment.
Scientists have studied the effects of tea on the meditative process and have hypotheses for the chemical properties that make tea so appealing to the experience. Tea is the only plant in the world to feature a property referred to as l-theanine. Also, as we all know Tea also has evolved overtime to harbor caffine. The effects of the caffeine seem to stimulate alpha waves within the brain, these are shorter wave lengths inspiring more rapidity of thought. The L-Theanine does the opposite and creates a deeply relaxing wave referred to as Beta brainwaves. These waves are most common during stages of REM within the depths of sleep.
This is another one of those paradoxical elements of tea that make it so resplendent in mystical wonder. How can something both stimulate you and calm you at the same moment?
Many pieces of tea-ware are also utilized in the tea experience to remind one of the meditational aspects of tea. Take for instance the Yixing Clay Teapot. The device looks fairly rudimentary a small clay vessel, typically only a few oz in size, and one is to add leaves, water, and time. However if you have ever tried to pour tea from one you will see it is not quite this simple.
As you pour from the pot you will soon experience a subtle undercurrent of anxiety as you realize that the lid might fall off and crack into thousands of pieces.
The only way to pour from this pot is to keep your fingers on your radial nerve. Not only does this steady the pouring hand, but one is forced to feel their heartbeat at the same moment. If one is particularly tuned in, the drops of tea bouncing up from the cup become inseparable from ones very own heartbeat.
Here is a Meditation on Tea to guide you:
This one can be performed by yourself or within a group. However, the entire session must be performed in silence.
Start by entering the space of tea preparation and focusing on the breath.
Turning on the kettle tune your ears to the sound of the steam rising from the kettle
Once the water is ready to merge with the tea take a deep breath in
Pour the water over the leaves and breathe in and out slowly
Instead of using a timer or other instruments try to feel in your body, mind, soul when the tea is ready to be poured
Once the tea is decanted take your first sip
Close your eyes and notice where the tea is warming or cooling you
Continue to focus on the breath
As the moments pass keep focusing on your in breath and out breath
As you breathe in say to yourself, ‘breathing in I discover,’
As you breathe out say to yourself, ‘breathing out I surrender to what is’
Now as you drink the tea start to feel the energy in your body
Are there particular areas of your being that you feel the tea more?