One of the best examples of Mindfulness I’ve yet to come across is that of the Japanese tea ceremony (Chanoyu, Sado or simply Ocha in Japanese). The preparation of tea during the ceremony calls for the undivided attention and focus of the practitioner. The guests are considered with every gesture and movement with even the placement of the utensils having predefined locations. Deep silence and serenity coupled with a lot of spiritual depth are key components.
The tea ceremony has had a long history in which to cultivate this high degree of Mindfulness. The book “Cha Ching” written during the eighth century by a Chinese Buddhist priest taught the proper method of preparing tea and has been said to have influenced today’s style of the tea ceremony. However it wasn’t until the 13th century, during the Kamakura Shogunate, that tea became a kind of status symbol in Japan. Tea tasting parties became popular and eventually developed through the following centuries into the various schools of Japanese tea ceremony that exist today.
The lesson we can draw from this is that all of us can apply Mindfulness to many of our everyday activities. Although I’m not saying we should make it as elaborate as the Japanese tea ceremony we can still make a little ceremony of our own when we make a cup of tea (or coffee for that matter). Rather than casually throwing in a tea bag and then pouring in boiling water without a second thought try the following:-
Mindfully resolve to take the time to make your tea.
Fill the kettle. Listen to the water running in. Hear how the noise alters the fuller the kettle becomes.
While the kettle is boiling (hear how it sounds), mindfully lay out the cup and spoon. How do they feel in your hands? Are they cool or warm? What sound do they make when you place them down?
Take the tea (whether loose or in a tea bag) and smell it. Look at it closely and really see what it looks like. Feel the texture of the tea or the tea bag between your fingers. Can you hear any sound as you roll it in your fingers? Maybe even taste a little bit and see what it is like.
Do the same for the sugar if you have any.
If you take milk then smell that as well. Notice how different it is from the other things you have just smelt. Again taste a little.
Once the kettle has boiled (again experiencing the sound it makes) pour it over the tea. Watch the steam from the water as it rises in the air. Can you smell the hot tea? Is it any different from that of the cold tea before?
Add your milk and sugar if desired but take your time. Slowly pour in the milk or spoon in the sugar. Notice how it affects the surface of the tea as you do so.
When cool enough take a sip of the tea. Can you feel the warm steam against your face? What does the tea taste like? If you have added milk or sugar can you taste those?
Sit back and enjoy the rest of the cup. Take this teafulness time for yourself.
Think of other seeming mundane tasks where you could apply the principles of Mindfulness. Ironing or vacuuming spring immediately to mind. Whatever the task may be take every opportunity to practice your Mindfulness. It will help ease your day.
Thank you to the following websites for information. Any mistakes made above are of course mine.
“Don't believe everything you think. Thoughts are just that - thoughts.”