My favourite moment in a tea ceremony is what I call ‘the switch’ – the moment when ‘it’ has arrived. The magic. You can almost feel it in the air when it starts. Often somewhere between half an hour and an hour after the ceremony begins. Sometimes longer. It takes that long for the mind the calm down, for the comparing mind which loves to analyze the proceedings or is just stuck on ‘repeat’, reviewing scenarios from the previous days or weeks.
Once the mind dust settles, and the mind noise reduces to mere scampering whispers, the alchemy of the setting (low lighting, soft or absent music, calm ambiance) can seep into the cracks of an over-energized system. Ah, and the tea, the medicine itself! This brew, made by nature to do just this indeed: to settle the organism, to bewitch out of hiding inherent inner calm and massage the stressed shoulders of an overactive mind. A perfect symphony then plays out in the most dulcet of tones!
The transition zone from still-active mind to ‘in the zone’ is usually distinctly felt – in myself as a participant, and in the air, amongst and between others as a server. Many times I have been serving tea for 20, 30, 40 minutes and sometimes my mind wonders, Is everyone bored? And yet then it happens – a subtle change in the electricity in the air, that’s how it feels. As if peace were passing through the room like a summer breeze from an open window. Suddenly you know – it’s here.
Facial expressions change, posture also, as the body allows itself to just be. In myself, I feel this moment as a quiet letting go, as if when a fist gently unclenches. This is usually followed by a rush of images or feelings from the subconscious, a feeling of sudden revelation from within, a sudden clarification of something that had remained partly hidden. Then we know that we’re nestled inside ‘tea zone’.
Author: Steve Kokker
This tea story was a submission to our “Tee elab!” ("Tea lives!") tea writing contest.