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May 16, 2017

How a Perfectly Imperfect Cup of Tea brought me to my Senses.


I’ve never drank a full cup of coffee in my 42 years of life.

I do not believe there are many of us around. I have tried coffee, however I do not like the taste. I love the smell of it, and the sounds and atmosphere of people mingling around the local coffee house. I can imagine people taking that first sip to warm their souls.

Well, I’m not sure if that’s the case for coffee drinkers, but it is for me with tea.

Tea is part of my morning routine. Making, and drinking, that perfectly imperfect cup of tea is like meditation to me. I like to make it a moment of mindfulness.

There is a giddy excitement as I wake and can make my tea. I fluctuate between rooibos, chai, and green tea mostly. But there are so many wonderful teas to choose from—that in itself is a mindfulness practice.

When we ready ourselves to sit for meditation, it’s like brewing that perfectly imperfect cup of tea. We bring ourselves as we are with whatever is showing up for us that day. Making tea can be a practice of the senses.

As I fill the kettle up with water and turn it on, I am mindful of the sounds of the water beginning to boil. I listen to the bubbling and rumbling. I feel my feet on the ground and I know I am standing. I feel the warmth coming from the kettle and I begin to see the steam rise as the water is almost at its boiling point.

My senses are now intrigued and readied for more. I take a deep breath in and know I am breathing in. I take a deep breath out and know I am breathing out.

Just as I drop into meditation, my senses are open and aware—I sink into my cushion and begin my practice of being.

I pick one of my favourite pottery mugs, one lovingly made by my friend, and I already know intuitively which tea I want. This day it’s green tea matcha. I put in almost a teaspoon of tea leaves—just the right amount—and smell the fragrance. I pour the water over the leaves and notice the colour of the water change.

I am intrigued by the transformation. I am aware. I notice a sense of calm come over me.

I let my tea steep for about five minutes, and then I remove the leaves. I notice how they have changed from dry to hydrated, and even more fragrant.

On this day, I want the sweetness of honey. I take a teaspoon and watch as it melts off the spoon into the hot water. I listen as the spoon stirs and hits the edges of the mug. My mind wanders slightly, as is normal for many. I bring it back to my sense of sound as the spoon again hits the sides of the mug.

As I take the spoon out, I wrap my hands around the warm mug. I take a moment in this space and feel the warmth of the mug under my fingers. I notice the smell as I bring the tea close to my nose. I breathe in deeply and notice my body fully aware and awake, ready to take the taste of the tea into my mouth.

I walk slowly, being careful not to spill a drop. I sit down, cross my legs, and bring the mug to my mouth. I smell the sweetness of the tea and honey, and I feel the warmth on my lips. I notice how my arms just know what to do to bring the mug to my lips.

I take a small sip and savour the taste. I made the perfectly imperfect tea this time. It is pleasant and I notice a new sense arise in me—a welling up of joy. I do not attach to it ,but rather notice how the tea has brought me to a neutral place in my body to savour, to breathe, to pause.

I am filled with warmth.

It amazes me how we take so many things for granted, and how something as simple as making our favorite cup of tea can bring us back to ourselves. So next time you brew that perfectly imperfect cup of tea, I invite you to take a moment to make it a practice in mindfulness.

Blessings,
Nina

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Author: Nina (Khema) Fields
Image: David Mao/Unsplash
Editor: Nicole Cameron

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Nina (Khema) Fields