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Mindfulness and Tea: What's the connection?

April 11 2017

At Dragonfly, we are believers in ‘Slow Tea’ - the idea of slowing down, taking time out and really enjoying what’s in your cup. This month we bring you a series of blogs on mindfulness and tea with expert Dr Barbara Mariposa MBBS, BSc, BA, MFPHMI(1) MICFEA. Dr B takes us through the basics of mindfulness, how it connects to ‘Slow Tea’ and some tips on how to enjoy a ‘Mindful cuppa’.

Connecting mindfulness with tea

The origins of the mindfulness movement are rooted in Zen Buddhism, a practice which offers up many simple ways to bring focus and presence to our everyday lives. Buddhism in turn has a long historical association with tea. Traditionally grown around the high mountain monasteries of the East, tea has for centuries been used by Buddhist monks to help maintain a gentle alertness whilst meditating, and is served to encourage a state of focus, clarity and emotional balance. The magical alliance between tea and man’s pursuit of an ideal state of mind has most famously found its expression in the Tea Ceremony.

The Tea Ceremony is the distillation of everything that equanimity (meaning an ‘even mind’) brings. The guiding principles are respect, harmony, purity and tranquility. It is a highly stylised ritual around the sharing of tea with one’s guests. It brings its participants the opportunity to cultivate great precision and awareness in every aspect of their behavior and being, thereby fostering a sense of harmony and inner calm.

Tea ceremonies for mindfulness

The traditional ceremony location itself is usually simple, often a small rustic thatched hut located in the centre of a beautiful garden. Entering the Tea house requires entering through a low door, the act of bowing thus encouraging a humility and inviting us to leave behind the cut and thrust of the noisy outside world.

Ceremonial tea hut
Drinking tea

The host engages their whole being to bring enjoyment and peace of mind to the guests with an attentiveness to their needs and an awareness of the profound beauty of the simplest aspects of nature. There is an awareness that each tea gathering is a once in a lifetime event, never to occur again, a concept embodied in the Japanese term “ichi-go ichi-e” which literally means “one time, one meeting”.

The sharing of a cup of tea has long been a symbol of social cohesiveness and a common way for us to bring comfort and warmth into our lives. The first thing we do when someone pops in is to offer them a cuppa. Think of every meeting as something to be treasured, after all, it can only happen once.

Read our other blogs in this series:

What is Mindfulness 

How to have a mindful cuppa