Mindfully sipping tea and taking the time to appreciate personal “steep time” is an ancient art practiced by Zen philosophers and Buddhists for years.
I love the term inspired by the one and only Oprah Winfrey - ‘Steep Your Soul’ a daily ritual of steeping tea to provide a little time to pause and reflect.
Oprah and her guests have inspired me since I can remember. In fact I can recall having sick days from school when I was as young as ten or eleven and looking forward to midday when Oprah would be on. So I figured what better to call this segment of my blog after Oprah’s favourite ritual – especially since a great deal of the OM Collectives content is inspired by Oprah and her guests in one form or another.
"Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. Live the actual moment. Only this moment is life" – Thich Nhat Hanh
Modern day living tends to be quite rushed. Many of us mindlessly go about our mundane chores, moving from one appointment to the next, one email to the next, until our days become a blur.
I find that by making a conscious effort to sit down with a cup of freshly brewed tea is a great way to ground and slow myself down, it enables me breathing space so that I can return to the natural rhythm of life.
It’s called a tea ritual. And if you don’t already have one then I suggest you give it a try. A simple practice to nurture you mind, body and spirit is to turn your tea time into a Tea Ritual, a time to steep your soul and reconnect with your true self and the present moment. Below this blog post you will find my free Tea Meditation Audio.
I’ve always loved tea, but what I’ve learned to love even more is the very act of drinking it. Tapping into and being inspired by the wisdom of tea ceremonies in Japan, where every day tea rituals are an important part of daily life, for they slow us down and connect us to the here and now. They enable us to breathe, expand and gain clarity.
I’m not talking about big, ornate cultural or religious rituals. Instead I’m referring to simple actions that connect us to ourselves, our place and the present moment. Anything can be a ritual. Brushing your teeth. Taking a shower. Getting up out of bed. Washing your face. Chopping garlic. Making tea.
I love using tea as a ritual and meditation practice. And I can't recommend this practice highly enough – it truly is a beautiful way to bring more gratitude and acceptance into your everyday life – I recommend you try it out.
Create Your Own Tea Ritual
So how do you create your own Tea Ritual. Well its really a personal thing, however here are some things that are important for my own tea ritual.
- I like to boil water the traditional way – in a kettle on the stove. There is something special about boiling water on the stovetop.
- While you are waiting for the water to boil put some loose, whole-leaf tea into a small teapot. I take a moment to enjoy the sight and feel of the leaves while breathing in the tea fragrance. I also take a moment to cast my mind to the farmers who hand-picked the tea, and about life in that region. When buying tea make sure you always buy fair-trade and try and support local farmers and co-ops (the Tea Industry is known for unethical practices – so you want to ensure your tea is as pure and ethical ).
- I also set up a sacred spot where I am going to sip my tea – I like to use a bamboo tray and placemat. Sometimes I light a candle and put music on. Other times I sit outside and listen to the birds and admire nature.
- Once the kettle has boiled add hot water to leaves and infuse for 15-20 seconds.
- I pour the slightly steeped tea into a small cup. Then savor the colour, texture, smell, and try to see what aromas I can detect.
- Then I take my sip. The first sip is a revelation, as the rushed world fades away. I then bring my attention to what aromas rise up in the steam. I also notice how the tea warms my body. What does the body of the freshly brewed tea feel like in my mouth – dry, thin, grainy, full? What taste persists? Is it earthy, floral or fruity? Any good tea will have a variety of these elements: aroma, taste, aftertaste, and body. Quality tea will take you on a sensual journey inspiring you to entirely engage into a fully present moment with the leaves.
That’s my tea ritual. Please copy it, improve on it. And remember that once you make it a habit, it’s seriously life-changing.
"In the practice of tea, a sanctuary is created where one can take solace in the tranquility of the spirit" – Sen Soshitsu XV
How You Will Benefit From A Tea Ritual
- By transforming your tea time to a slow and mindful meditation practice, you’ll no longer struggle to find time to meditate.
- By slowing down and being in the present moment you will reduce stress & anxiety. Because your mind has the opportunity to rest you will find that you have more clarity and no longer become overwhelmed when having to make decisions.
- You will learn to cultivate an awareness of living in the present moment. You will find that you develop a habit of mindfulness even when you are not sipping tea.
- Life will become more beautiful. You will no longer crave those lofty ambitions of the ego – and instead you will be happy with the more simpler things in life. Your days will be filled with tranquility, grace and harmony, and everyday living will become more mindful and sacred.
- A daily tea ritual will calm the mind and develop your intuition so that you can recognise what is real and important to you.