Maureen Cooper is the founder-director of Awareness in Action, a consultancy which focuses on bringing wellbeing into the heart of the workplace though training in meditation. She offers online coaching in meditation. Here she shares some practical tips on how to benefit from mindfulness whilst enjoying a cup of tea.
The Japanese Tea ceremony is well-known for its serenity and elegance. As the ceremony progresses, participants are invited to experience a sequence of present moments as they unfold and to appreciate the unique, fleeting nature of each one.
We do the same thing in meditation—we rest our attention in the present moment rather than worrying over events in the past, or stressing about things that may happen in the future. The benefits of meditating in this way are becoming well known and there is increasing interest in learning to meditate. It is not always easy to find the time to meditate and to build it into a reliable practice, so we need to look for opportunities to bring mediation into our ordinary activity.
For example, in the spirit of the traditional tea ceremony, the experience of making and drinking tea can become an everyday meditation practice.
Try following these simple steps:
- Choose where you are going to prepare your tea and ensure that the space is quiet, and uncluttered.
- Gather everything you need—take time to check that you have not forgotten anything.
- Take a few moments to sit comfortably with your back straight and your legs crossed, or feet firmly on the floor.
- As you sit, become aware of your breathing and place your attention there for a few moments
As you go through the stages of making the tea, you will use each stage as a focus for your attention just as you did here with the breath
- When you are ready, boil the water.
- As you wait for the water to boil, rest your attention on the sound of the water heating up
- Select the leaves to put into your teapot, noticing the texture of the leaves against your fingers and the scent of the tea.
- As you pour on the boiling water watch the changes in the leaves and breathe in the aroma.
- Pour the tea slowly into your cup, resting your attention on the tea as it flows from the pot into the cup.
When the tea is ready, notice how each of your senses engage with taking the first sip:
- As you pick up the cup feel its texture and shape and the heat of the tea
- Notice the small sounds of the cup against the saucer
- See the steam as it rises from the surface of the tea
- Notice the pattern and colours of the tea as you lift it to your lips
- Smell the aroma of the tea
- Then, notice the tea as it touches your lips, settles in your mouth and, as you swallow, slides down your throat and warms you inside.
- Repeat this sequence as you enjoy the tea.
- When the tea is finished, rest your attention on the breath again for a few moments.
Conclude the meditation by quietly clearing the dishes, washing them and putting them away.
If you are short of time, you can use any one of the stages of making the tea as a brief meditation or STOP moment.