Tea Meditation The Benefits for Mental Health
Can tea meditation improve your mental health? Yes, it can, as it is all about living in the moment, and if you have read my previous posts on meditation, you will know I try to live in the moment as much as possible. The tea ceremony is centuries old, and there is great importance placed on the preparation and the consuming of tea.
In Japan, they use matcha tea for their ceremonies; however, I am not an expert on this area, and you can find out more about it through Wikipedia. I’m more interested in using tea as meditation, to still the mind and being consumed by the tea rather than the other way around.
It is all about being mindful, being ever-present in the moment of time you have. For that is all we really have, the right now, there is nothing more. All our plans and busy schedules, the appointments, the to-do lists fall by the wayside when you totally immerse yourself in meditation and especially an active one like tea meditation.
For those who cannot sit still long enough to take part in a relaxing meditation, this is perfect for you as you really have to concentrate on what you are doing. Each movement is performed slowly and with care and thought about the activity being undertaken at that precise moment.
How Tea Meditation Works
The first step to any form of meditative practice is being prepared, and it goes without saying really, but you need a few tools for tea, the most important being a cup and hot water. But there is more to it than that. It is all about the beauty of the cup and the beauty of the teapot you use to pour the elixir—the quality and decoration of the spoon you use and the setting.
This meditation is not for slouching on your couch and dunking your chocolate hobnobs; no, you need to be fully in the moment. Even donning one of your finest outfits to make this truly special.
You can prepare for your meditation about a week in advance; this will be a special time between you and the tea. Many centuries ago, it was considered only the warriors to be allowed to drink tea and seeing as you and I are mental health warriors, it is very apt we perform a tea meditation to help us with our mental health.
You will need:
- A beautiful teapot
- An equally beautiful cup, you can go Japanese style if you so wish. I have a glass cup and teapot elegantly shaped. As I like to see the leaves of the tea and I sometimes add flowers that unfurl, it is all visible and wonderful to watch.
- If your teapot does not come with an internal strainer, you will need one of these, not a horrid plastic one though, go for a decorative metal one. We want this to be special.
- A metal spoon, or if you want to go for a natural vibe, you can use a hand-carved wooden spoon or one made out of bamboo. Or, if you want to, you can use a whisk; they normally come with the set if you are buying a Japanese tea ceremony kit.
- A tray to place all the equipment on; try and go for a plain one to not distract you from the tea making process.
- A jug for the hot water, try and make this beautiful too, as you will be pouring the water into the teapot as part of the meditation. Bringing the kettle into the mix looks alien, so go for a small jug.
- [AF] And of course the tea, I recommend buying from The Art of Tea as they are true specialists and you want everything to be just so for your meditation.
- A cushion for sitting on; if you can’t sit on the floor, make your chair as comfy as possible, but not so you have to stretch to reach the teapot, but you can comfortably lift the pot and pour.
You can make this as simple as you want, and if you can only afford tea bags, this is fine too; it is about the actions you are taking and the thought behind those actions. This is not about money but beauty and the internal thought process, and being at one with the tea process to alleviate your mind of troublesome thoughts. Buy the best you can afford and buy what delights you.
I hope you dress up for this as it makes it even better. Do your hair, put on your jewellery, wear your finery. Try and make yourself feel special, even if you feel gross because of depression. I know the feeling where you can’t even brush your hair, but you must make an effort and push yourself to be a warrior for this meditation.
Boil your kettle, and while that is boiling, prepare a small table or the floor with all the above items on it, except for the jug, as you need to fill that with hot water. If you want, you can light a candle but not a scented one as it is the aroma of the tea you want to inhale.
Once you have your small jug of hot water on your tray, you are ready to begin the tea meditation. Make sure your phone is on airplane mode.
Sit comfortably and look at everything before you, notice the steam rising from the jug, with your hand gently pass your hand through the steam and feel the warmth on your skin. Do this several times. Place your hand back down to rest it and look at the leaves of your tea. Pick a few leaves up and gently rub between your fingers and inhale thier aroma. Add them to your teapot along with a spoonful or two of the tea. Did they make a sound as they dropped to the base of the teapot? Focus on the tinkling sound for a moment. Everything should be carried out in slow motion, with purpose and unwavering concentration. Now you want to pour your water into your teapot. Slowly, see the tea leaves roll around and swoosh about as the hot liquid is poured onto them. Watch your teapot, notice its shape, notice the steam coming out of the spout. Inhale deeply. Can you smell the aroma emanating from the teapot, how does it make you feel? Once you know how it makes you feel, discard that thought. Inhale again and turn your cup in preaparation for the tea to be poured. How are you feeling? Are you looking forward to drinking your tea or are you nervous it won't taste as good as you hoped? Both thoughts are fine, this is your moment. Slowly pick up your teapot and begin to pour into your cup, remember to strain if your teapot does not have a built in one. Notice everything, the smell, the colour, the heat, the depth of tea in the cup. Pick up your tea and hold it under your nose and inhale the steam and let your mind wander to the journey the tea had to make to arrive with you. All those miles travelled so you can enjoy this special moment, where you can be at one with the world and universe. Where there is only this moment, where nothing else exists apart from the tea and you. Begin to sip the tea and notice the flavours, how does it taste on your tongue? How hot is it on your palete? Is the taste surprising, horrid, wonderful? Keep sipping and thinking these thoughts. Try and just focus on the sensation of sipping, how your lips purse together, the sensation of it travelling over your tongue and down into your throat. Push any other thoughts away, this is just you and the tea. Place your cup back into postion and repeat if you so wish.
How Do you Feel?
I hope you feel relaxed and that you have lived your tea meditation in the moment where nothing else mattered except you and the tea. After performing a tea meditation because you are performing, you will understand why you should dress special for it. It is worth the effort, and it makes you feel good. Now, I know it cannot cure depression or anxiety, but it can for a moment remove negative emotion from you.
Let me know how you get on or if you are going to try it; I would love to read your thoughts regarding tea meditation.
Peace & Blessings