Each day I wake up looking forward to practicing dinacharya, the simple practice of building routines each day provides the natural rhythms of our body to work as they should. In doing this, we support over-all health and well-being. An Ayurvedic tea ceremony is one of my daily dinacharya practices. All though this may seem like an outward ceremony or ritual, to me, a tea ceremony represents harmony, respect, purity, and tranquillity. It is a meditation, time and space to learn about the inner self while showing respect for the material world with positive values applied to the whole process of the ceremony, not only focusing on the tea.
There is, believe it or not, much science behind the practice of ritualized tea service. Modern experts on the topic point out that the tea ceremony stimulates both sides of the brain. This balanced activity helps to bring a deep calm and even a spiritual consciousness to those who take part in the activity. How is this possible? Well, consider that the tea ceremony works directly on all five senses. This is by design. Buddhist monks in ancient times structured tea rituals so that it would wake people up, both physically and spiritually. At the same time, tea ceremonies work to bring deep inner peace and tranquility to those involved by bringing mind and body together.
Smell, touch, taste, hearing and sight are, respectively, met with the aroma of the tea and the straw in the floor matting, the feel of the pottery’s glaze, the tea itself, the sound of the water as it boils in the teapot, and the visual images of nature around you. With all five senses awakened and in tune, the left brain hemisphere has plenty of material for thought, including the ritual itself, the implements, the process and “facts” of the ceremony. These are standard types of topics that the left hemisphere of the brain enjoys analyzing. On the other side of the brain, the right hemisphere is attending to the beauty of the flowers, artwork and the atmosphere of the entire space.
When planning a daily tea ritual, I first start with the ceramics. I focus on finding handmade artwork from local artisans, by doing this I am not only supporting my community, but it creates a culture of respect for artistry in the ceremony while stimulates my senses from the touch and feel of each container used.
Secondly, I source fair trade, organic herbs, and spices from reputable sources. I do not only buy organic because organic agriculture reduces the overall exposure to toxic chemicals from synthetic pesticides that can end up in the ground, air, water, and food supply, and that are associated with health consequences, from asthma to cancer, but I choose to buy organic because I believe that one person can make a difference. When I buy organic, I increase the demand for sustainable farming methods, and over time, if there’s enough demand, the industry will have to change to meet the needs of consumers.
The third is creating the right environment for the ceremony. The quality of energy in the environment affects our mind states a lot. Hence it is not always something tangible that might be causing difficulty to focus when you sit for tea. You should learn to be able to differentiate between the positive and negative vibrations in different areas of your house, and it is not a very difficult thing to do. All you have to do is to observe your emotions. Places where you find it easy to think good thoughts are energetically appropriate for meditation and there would surely be more than enough corners in your house where you could feel these higher vibrations.
Setting up a dedicated space can make or break your ceremonial tea habit. Imagine you have to put away your current project, clean up counter space, pull out a teapot, tea cups and tea. By now you’ve exhausted most of your willpower just by thinking about getting to the point of making tea. Choose a place in your house that has the positive vibrations that we talked about and leave this space dedicated to your ceremony. Decorate it will minimal decor that reflects nature. Spaciousness in your decoration is essential to allow for the mind to relax and reflect.
Now let’s talk tea! One of my favorites is herbs to use in my daily tea ritual is Tulsi, It is aromatic, delicious, beautiful, and sattvic, tulsi is one of those magical Ayurvedic herbs that can benefit just about everyone.
When preparing the tea gently stay present with each step; while heating the water, steeping the tea, and pouring the warm water over the loose-leaf tea leaves. Inhale the aroma of the tea. Notice the smell, is it gentle or pungent? Is the aroma is cooling or warming? Let your eyes take in the colors as the tea is infusing, notice the texture of the tea leaves. Allow your gaze to take in the colors of your ceramics while your hands are holding the cup. Let your gaze be gentle, passively taking in all there is to see.
Before drinking the tea, offer up appreciation. Take time to remember and give gratitude for each being that went into the making of this tea, the sacred water, the cherished plant, and the many hands that tended to the tea that is now in front of you. By setting this tone you are allowing for your senses to embrace the experience entirely, and you will watch stress start to melt away as you sip, and joy fill your heart, starting the day off in a deep sense of self, gratitude, and awareness.
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