The Tea Ceremony Called Life
Tea ceremony reminds our subconscious of the natural flow of life. As the tea transforms before our very eyes, we are also reminded of the transformation we undergo every day, every hour, and every moment. Dry leaves are steeped and unfurl in the hot water, imparting their qualities of where and how they were grown, nurtured by rain or stressed by drought, scented by the trees and flowers around them, their character developed by care and altitude, air and by the hands of humans across the world.
Tea reminds us of reverence, our natural state of awe and wonder. Tea reminds us to take a moment to observe the flow of life, it settles us back into the moment when the world feels as if it may spin out of control.
There are fires raging again here in our beautiful home state of California. The winds last night hit 70 miles an hour, fanning the flames of fear and worry, not to mention the intensity of the fires already ignited. As the world heats up, stress and trauma can cause us too to heat up, feeling emotionally and physically parched or simply "burned out." There are stressors in which we can control, and those that we cannot. Tea ceremony helps us to stabilize and ground ourselves as the winds of change and challenge whip through the mountainous terrains of our minds and various life situations.
The other day our little town of Ojai hit a record 99 degrees, at the end of October! There was no humidity and we were (and still are) under a RED FLAG WARNING. Yes, all caps, as in BE ON GUARD, DON'T GET TOO COMFORTABLE. Power outages lasted over 8 hours at a time at our home, ice was sold out at the market, people were texting each other to touch in as the memories of our last major fire are still fresh in our minds.
I entered our new tea studio and immediately found myself hugging a tea pot, as if it were my grounding anchor in a moment of woeful concern. As the water boiled, I made my way into the space and sat on the floor with the sound bowls, my tea ceremony table, and a cup. White tea is known to cool the system, being "yin" cooling and soothing for heat in the body. I steeped a pot of Raspberry Earl White and settled in with it, inhaling the bergamot, sensing the mountainous southern China mountains where it was grown. I could suddenly feel the cool mist air hanging in a faraway land as I sipped. The oil of Bergamot from Sicily reminding my cells to stop producing cortisol--the stress hormone that ages us--and the raspberries flavored the tea with optimism, and the sweetness of life.
Cup after cup, I sipped and sank into my body, finally returning to a place of knowing--there is that which we cannot control, yet our bodies' response to those things is in our control if we are conscious of our bodies! Tea gives us that consciousness. Becoming mindful again that my body was suffering in a subconscious way, I allowed the tea to awaken my senses to the truth. The truth is that we are one body, made of stardust, created by intention, divinely orchestrated to breathe the breath of life in a world that is remarkable, even in times of trouble or crisis. We are alive, beings of light, a wonderment of the universe.
Marveling at the fact you are alive, living in the flow of what is, happening upon the moment as an explorer discovers a new land, is the reminder of tea. Tea is simply a leaf to the less aware, a "substance" or "commodity" but for those of us who see with the "eyes behind the eyes" the spirit behind the senses, we see and sense a world of awe, one of ease and flow in the face of fear and strife.
Tea ceremony is a blessing to us, it has been used to soothe, heal and remind humans for thousands of years to sit, observe, become present and to breathe the sacred into our lungs as the gift life is. It has been used to bring presence to any matter. It facilitates forgiveness between enemies, and compassion between humans like no other ritual can bring about. Tea ceremony reminds us of the pure miracle existence is and that we are.
After the pot was empty, and I'd steeped the tea three times, I could feel the world again as a profound cluster of potential. In the seed of the fire there is renewal. As the fire opens the door to ending, it is a visceral way for humans to sense that what was is no longer working. The flow of the universe is too in the creation of that which changes us. That which destroys creates, that with creates destroys. There is a balance that we must learn to surf, in our bodies, in presence, in reverence to all that we call life.
Tea ceremony reminds us to be in flow with all that is, nothing more, just what is.