After the winter solstice on December 21, days become imperceptibly longer, and sunlight returns to our world. The New Year in the Gregorian calendar is coming up as well, and as things change and shift, in monumental or minute ways, it can be helpful to introduce a little bit of mindfulness into our days so that we don’t get swept away in the currents of novelty but remain floating serenely on top instead.
One way to do this is to start a morning tea practice, for yourself alone or for you and a partner. Three steepings, fifteen minutes, is all you have to commit to. But it will be fifteen minutes of presence and awareness as you wholeheartedly dive into the experience of tea--from heating the water, connecting with the leaves as you fill the bowl or teapot, to smelling the aroma as the steam rises.
To hold a tea bowl “correctly,” the left hand makes a platform for the bowl--it should rest on the ends of the left fingers. The left thumb should rest on top of the bowl, and the right thumb should be across from it. This is not an especially comfortable way to hold a bowl at first, but that's by design, so that you are always aware, mindful and attentive while drinking tea.
Unlike mugs, tea bowls are not designed to be set down or held in one hand while you multi-task. The entire contents of the bowl is meant to be savored in one, intentional sitting. Concentration on one experience at a time is a gift we can give ourselves.
The ancient design of this tea practice allows you to access something deep and old. Something of the human can fall away, and the elementals are allowed to speak--the fire and heat, the water, the earthen teaware, the vitalizing nutrients, and the trace mineral brought up from the roots of the trees.
Also, when held properly, the elbows fall to the side and the bowl comes to rest right about where the drinker’s heart is. If you like to set an intention for your day during your morning tea practice, this alignment makes that action very symbolic. You infuse the steeping with your intention, and then you bring the tea up from your heart to your mouth and drink this gift from the trees, along with whatever intention you infuse it with.
All of us at Living Tea have some sort of ritual to bring us into the day. We notice a huge difference in our outlook and mental capacity when we give ourselves the gift of quiet self-cultivation with a steaming cup or bowl of tea after waking up.
The Living Tea Family