Taking tea is a simple, gentle way to work time magic. Not only does it help you to slow down and change your personal pace, it connects you to an ancient timeline of deep spiritual practice that goes back many centuries.
Whether it is your own quiet, daily ritual of taking a time out, simply sipping your favorite hot beverage for a few moments, or else creating a more elaborate practice, a tea time can be a daily magical ritual that you can enjoy, even in the most secular environment. Unlike a coffee break, it is not intended to jack you up on caffeine, but to refresh and calm your spirit.
You need not make your own daily ceremony as complex as the formal Tea Ceremony, but an awareness of some of its magical parts can enhance your own practice.
For instance, Chaji (as it is called) requires peacefulness. Speaking is optional. Any communication should be only between friends that treat one another with humility, and speak from the heart in ways that show appreciation and consideration. This is not the time or place to discuss unpleasant subjects of any sort.
Great care goes into purification prior to the practice of Chaji. Just before receiving the guests, the host fills a stone basin with fresh water. Taking a ladle of water the host purifies his hands and mouth then proceeds through the gate to welcome his guests with a bow. No words are spoken at this time. The host leads the honored guest and any others through the entryway, which symbolizes a door between the coarse physical world and the spiritual world of tea.
In the tea ceremony, water represents yin and the fire in the hearth is yang. The water is held in a beautiful jar called the mizusashi. This stoneware jar contains fresh water symbolizing purity, and is touched only by the host. Matcha, a very fine, rather bitter green tea, is kept in a small ceramic container, which is, in turn, covered in a fine silk pouch (shifuku).
Sen Rikyu was the great sixteenth century Japanese tea master, who identified the spirit of the “Way of Tea.” Its four basic principles are harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility. The Way of Tea represents the highest ideals of humanity, and of course includes a great respect for the natural world as well.
During Chaji, all five senses are engaged. The tea house is preferably in a garden, features flowers and other simple, but beautiful natural objects, and appreciation for the changing seasons is also a part of the ceremony.
With a cup of tea, the intention is to focus the mind, to develop the virtues of The Way of Tea, and then, restored, return to the world with a peaceful spirit.
Although few of us can slip away from the office every afternoon to a nearby tea garden, many elements of this magic are readily available to us. Taking a break and treating yourself to tea, perhaps prepared in a beautiful handmade cup, with a fresh flower or two adorning your tabletop, can be a peaceful way to refresh your spirit.
And, like all magic, when performed with intention, it can shift your reality in gentle, but powerful ways.