Stereotypes are often their for a reason. I am British and tea is one of my things. Though my French husband is more likely to drink the typical variety you’ll be offered than myself. We call it ‘normal’, the rest of the world calls it ‘English Breakfast’. It involves plonking a tea bag in a cup, boiling a kettle, pouring the water over the bag and shortly after removing the bag, squeezing it against the side and then adding cold, fresh milk from the fridge (no home ever has the long life milk commonly offered in France). On receiving the cup of tea you’ll say something along the lines of ‘Mmmmmm a nice cup of hot tea’.
Whilst I do enjoy a cup of ‘normal’ tea, it’s not what is on offer in The Weekly Meditation Atelier. At the close of the mindful compassion based meditation we transition from the formal practice to an activity based meditation, easing ourselves gently into the close of the session and into our daily lives. It cultivates a sense of continuing to embody mindfulness and present moment awareness into our daily lives. Anything can be a meditation if we put our attention to it. The tea meditation is a way of demonstrating this, of remaining in companionable silence together as the vessels are warmed with hot water, the tea is woken up, the water is poured and the tea is served. The movements, sounds, colours, smells, sensations and finally taste. These can all be observed and model a way of bringing presence into our daily activities, the moments that make up our lives. A mundane activity can be turned around into a sensory based meditation, grounding you in the present moment.
Every tea comes from the same plant, Camellia Sisensis, each country, mountain, village and even family produce different batches of tea. Fine teas are of interest to me and I source ecological and small batch varieties from around the world to offer in the sessions. The tea meditation draws inspiration from the Japanese tea ceremony, which are quietly reflective ceremonies where the preparation of tea takes place in silence. Each month I introduce a new tea and each week it’ll offer a different experience, as you’ll discover. No breath is the same, no cup of tea will be either.
As an Occupational Therapist activity is the pivotal part of interventions, and the tea meditation allows me to weave this in. Modeling how you too can make simple activities a moment to pause, recentre and connect to yourself. To take time to observe and listen to your body and identifying it’s needs. In this way you move away from the thinking mind to the being mind. Allowing you to manage stress, anxiety or whatever difficulties you may be experiencing, giving space to experience sensations as they are, without the stories and judgements and opening a door to the healing that lies within you.
I hope this has been a helpful explanation of the tea meditation and why I have chosen to add it to the atelier. It’s not something that I have experienced within any other meditation class I have attended. I enjoy exploring the teas with you all very much. If you have any questions or would like me to write about specific topics do leave a comment below or get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org.
P.S I am expecting some comments on the ritual of the British cup of tea as this is a hotly debated topic…. mug or cup of tea for example…. some people put milk in WITH the teabag still in the cup….. others will always use a tea pot and then the debate moves into the ‘milk or tea’ in the cup first. It’s a very intricate affair and assumptions will be made about what sort of person you are by the tea you make or drink.