Creating a Tea Sanctuary
"Let your rituals hold you up, even when they feel routine or mundane. These are the times when your rituals are doing what they do best: gluing it all together with grace. "
~ Carrie-Anne Moss, Fierce Grace Journal, Annapurna Living
Tea is the daily ritual that holds me up, but it never feels routine or mundane. That is because I make it beautiful every time. Beauty is part of the ritual. Beauty doesn't mean that my set-up is terribly expensive or elaborate. No, it is actually a simple beauty. But it is carried out with great intention.
Before the pandemic, I sat for tea at the large dark wooden table with bench seating in our dining room. It's a beautiful room with Japanese shoji screens and floor-to-ceiling windows looking out to our forested yard. Our house was built in 1964 and has a mid-century modern meets Danish meets Japanese vibe to it. Our house is still very much in its original condition. I call it our "Wabi-Sabi Tree House". I loved having tea in this room which is right next to our kitchen and therefore close to the tea kettle.
Once everyone in my family was schooling and working at home each day due to the pandemic, I realized this wooden table was not the best spot for my daily tea practice, as this room is also where said family must travel through to access the kitchen and living room. As much as I loved having everyone home (and I still really, truly do) I knew I had to find a new spot for my daily ritual of tea. I also didn’t enjoy having to set up and take down all my tea paraphernalia every time I wanted to sit mindfully with tea. I knew I needed to find a designated space just for tea meditation. The sunroom was claimed by my husband as his new home office. And every other room was either occupied, a bathroom, a closet, or open to family traffic.
Then it hit me. We have this wonderful little hallway opposite a full glass wall. It rarely sees any traffic and has this gorgeous view of trees and the sky. I knew this would be "my spot" and I got to work making it mine. I found a squat, long bamboo table to fit the space and a long rug to go underneath it. I added my meditation cushion and pillow for sitting. What I keep on my tea table varies and I do think it is important to refresh the tabletop from time to time with what speaks beauty to you. Right now I have a modern gaiwan, matching cups, a fairness pitcher, tea tray, a candle, buddha statue and a Madonna & child nesting doll. In the future, I will change things out. I'll rotate the teaware and swap the statue and nesting doll for a small vase with fresh flowers and perhaps an inspirational quote or mantra postcard. I could add some crystals, beach glass, or incense, whatever inspires at the time.
Setting up a special place where you have your daily tea is all about creating a sense of SANCTUARY for YOU. This is of course, very personal and that's part of what makes it so special. It's a place that doesn't have to be "put away" after your tea sitting time is complete. It stays. It is visible for a reason. It's a visual reminder to invite you to return day after day...as many times as you like within a day. It's also a visual reminder to simply breathe & be present. Everything you need is there. Just come with your tea and hot water. Then sit and slowly savor your tea, allowing no distractions. This time is sacred. Your space is sacred. The tea is sacred. Your life is sacred.
Do you have a tea sanctuary? If yes, that’s wonderful! If no, I hope this post gets you thinking about creating one ! There’s no need to go out and buy anything fancy. It's amazing what we have in our own home that can be repurposed to fit this need. It doesn’t have to be a low table like mine. It could be a higher table with a chair. It could be a desk that’s not being used. It could even be pillows and blankets on the floor with a tea tray. You definitely want it to be something comfortable but also something that speaks beauty to you. Look around...see where in your home you could carve out some space and make it your own. Enjoy the process of gathering. Adorn. Create a tea altar. Then fire up your kettle...and simply be. As you enjoy your tea day after day in this special sanctuary created by you, just for you, it is worth noting changes you see take place in your life. Do you find yourself more patient? More appreciative? More awake? More present with your life and loved ones? There are many gifts that flow from the tea table to life, each one unique to the tea practitioner.