Nearly everyone has had tea at some point in his or her life. Most would say there was nothing too it. You boil water, place a prepared tea bag into your cup, pour the boiling water over it and voila, done! It may sound like the most mundane task in the world. The truth is it’s only mundane because you allow it to be.
A practitioner of Zen will tell you that everything you do should be done with a purpose, with awareness, and with intent. To do something with awareness is to see more in your actions and the results than the obvious. You are completely present in what is happening around you. This means that you are focused not just on boiling the water, but the sound of the water as the molecules heat up and begin to dance around each other aiding in the increase of heat. Intent is looking deeper and finding the value in what you see, hear, do, and feel.
A Zen tea drinking meditation involves using intent and awareness in the preparation, making, and drinking of tea. This is not a meditation that should be rushed; the practitioner should allow himself or herself the time to relax and enjoy the process of preparing the tea. Smell the herbs, flowers, and leaves that make up the tea. Listen as they crackle and rub against the tea bag or each other inside of the tea ball. Watch as the water begins to change color when it comes into contact with the tea bag. Admire the dance of the steam that rises over the cup. Lean forward and close your eyes while you inhale the aroma created with the blending of tea and steam.
Be aware of how your hand moves and fingers open and then close around the handle of your cup. Feel the weight of the combination of water, tea, and cup as you lift it from its place on your table. Feel the warmth of first the cup as it meets your lips and then of the tea as it enters your mouth. Explore the taste of the tea on your tongue. See if you can discover through taste what herbs, spices, or flowers make up the tea. Feel the warmth of the tea sooth your throat as it begins its journey through your body. It becomes a part of you.
As you do these things your body will relax, your breathing with deepens, time slows, and your awareness is more absolute. With your awareness heightened you will be able to see things more clearly and explore the mindfulness meditation creates. Simple acts such as tea drinking do not need to be so mundane. Peace and harmony can be found in those simple acts, if you do them with intent.