Meditations with Tea: Paths to Inner Peace
By Diana Rosen
the following excerpts are from the upcoming "Meditations with Tea: Paths to Inner Peace" by Diana Rosen
How did you awaken this morning? Did you bound out of bed, dash into the shower, grab a quick bite to eat, then head out the door? How will you retire tonight? Will you scribble out a to-do list, call the office, kiss the family members good-night, then plop into bed without ever stopping during the day to rest and reflect, even for ten minutes? Do you ever even remember falling asleep?
Probably nobody lives that frantically every day, yet as the world seems to speed up, so do we. Food can cook in minutes, sometimes even seconds. Travel to places it once took months to reach now can be done during a day or two. Instead of waiting a week for a letter or a newspaper to report an event, the news --with photographs-- arrives almost immediately. For many of us, the telephone has been supplanted by email, enabling communication around the world or around town, without regard to time, availability of the receiver- or higher rates. Work, play, even thinking, is now done at heightened speeds, and there is so much to learn, to accomplish, to give, to relish. Today is a very exciting time to be alive... and yet.
Growing numbers of people, like you, are wondering if you could awaken slowly, with the sun; take time to prepare for the day; eat breakfast leisurely with family; and perform your daily tasks with purpose and less urgency. Then, at day's end, you could go to bed fulfilled, less worried, content, and certainly more aware of what the day was really like.
"Simplify!" is an edict of many artists and philosophers. Artist Hans Hoffman has said, "The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak." Using meditations with tea can simplify your life.
Maybe you are already beginning the journey to mindful living, taking time to garden, even if it is only herbs in the kitchen or a window flower box. Perhaps you have regained the pleasure of music practice, or hand-writing personal letters, and treasuring the ones you receive. Possibly you are rediscovering the relaxation that comes from preparing a meal from scratch once a week or learning how to make something with your hands. If any of these activities is already a part of your life, you can well understand their benefits to be relaxing, restoring, and, yes, meditative.
For millions of people, for centuries, mindful preparation of tea and drinking it with intent has been a form of meditation that brings healthful results. It is easy to learn, powerful to do, and can be performed in any place where there is access to good water, tea, and a vessel to drink it from. Meditations with tea are, literally, fuel for body and mind.
The ideas in this article are guidelines only. I hope they will inspire you, encourage you, help you in your quest for personal peace, and become a foundation from which you can develop your own meditation time with tea. You can switch teas and meditation suggestions, leave some out, and think of others to enjoy as you explore both the meditation experience and the plethora of choices for teas available to you. This objective always is to bring your entire being to the meditation with tea practice and allow it to help you go where you want to go, or even to remain just where you are.
No matter how you use these suggestions, the single most important constant is the gift of quiet, uninterrupted time. And it is you who gives the gift to yourself: ten to twenty minutes as often as you desire it, in a place or places that contribute to the experience, like a corner alcove in your home or the lushness of a public garden, or simply shutting the door to the employees' lounge.
When you make time for yourself in a consistent way, family, friends, co-workers, and other people in your life will soon understand that this is your quiet time, and they will learn to respect it. If you take it seriously, others around you will take it seriously. Certainly, when the benefits of these meditations with tea are revealed, others will not only understand, they may soon follow in your path.
We each have twenty-four hours a day. How we "spend" those hours is directly related to what kind of day we have. We must eat, sleep, work, care for family, and, yes, we must care for ourselves. One of the most difficult ideas to get across to some people is that they are indeed in charge of their own lives.
Beginning today, remind yourself that you can.
- You can say no to invitations.
- You can say no to requests for time outside of work (and often at work).
- You can say no to television, obsessive housecleaning, volunteer activities, and other requests for your time and attention.
Each day, you can honor yourself when you prioritize your tasks in order of importance, and you stick to the priorities. You owe it to yourself, and to others around you, to honor yourself in this way. Taking care of yourself should always be on top of the list because if you are not well mentally, spiritually, and physically, you cannot be of help to anyone else.
You could list loving, laughing, hugging a friend, reaching out to a child, relishing your accomplishments, taking pride in your work, and taking pleasure in play. You could list playing sports and gardening and practicing an instrument, or singing a song or basking in the sun or viewing the sun rising and setting. Such simple pleasures these, you may say. Can you recall the last time you did any of them? Wouldn't today be a grand time for at least one of them?
As your guide to Meditations with Tea, I suggest noting, in red ink, the following item on your priority list: "Take ten minutes for a meditative cup of tea." Think you do not have the time? Rethink how you fill up the day and what tasks are really necessary, what you can put off to do another time, or delegate to someone else, or not do at all. Still feel there is not enough time for one more item on the "to-do" list? Be wild! Delete something from the list! Put off the dusting. Eliminate something. If you cannot, then ask yourself whether you are doing your absolute best by keeping so busy. Are you really accomplishing a lot by multitasking, or would you be more productive if you would focus completely on one task at a time?
Consider waking up twenty minutes earlier or staying up twenty minutes later and giving yourself this gift of tea and tranquility. You need it. You deserve it. You will benefit from it, because it will help you put the other things you do during the day in better perspective, allowing you the discretion to select which duties are really important.
Meditation is possible at any time in any place, with or without tea, but why not double this pleasure with a cup of your favorite tea? A client or repair technician calls to say that he'll be late? Use the delay to do a breathing exercise or daydream instead of raging against the interruption to your schedule. Think of ways to have goods and services delivered rather than running around town looking for parking places and using up your energy. It is worth any small stipend to have dry cleaning delivered, order supplies online, or even have the UPS pick up holiday packages to be sent on time.
Overwhelmed at work? Figure out how to delegate or share tasks with colleagues. Practice delegating, and it will become easier and easier. Think about swapping duties. You may dislike phone calls, yet enjoy writing correspondence. See if someone will exchange these tasks with you. You may even carry this exchange idea as far as swapping jobs or sharing jobs where you each become a part-time worker, freeing you to pursue a graduate degree, spend time developing your own business, or spend more time with your family. You don't know until you ask. Reviewing what you do and how to make it ultimately satisfying can be very rewarding for both company and employees.
Depending on where you live and with whom, finding a quiet corner and time may be a challenge. However, with intent, everything is possible. Look for objects of beauty to influence your experience: favorite artwork, objects you adore-even the beauty of the teacup or teapot you are using-flowers from the garden or the florist, a vista from your home or in your neighbor-hood, like trees, flowers, water, birds, anything that brings you a feeling of calm. It is ironic that for some people being alone in the car with a thermos of tea and no traffic, children, or weather reports to listen to is truly the meditative moment. If that is your idea of quiet time, do it. Park the car, push the seat back a few millimeters, sip your tea, rest, relax, ruminate-now you are meditating!