Tempest In A Teacup

How To Calm Those Little Mindstorms...

When the windmills of your mind are spinning out of control, like angry villagers chasing Victor Frankenstein's creature, intent on destruction - then it is time to take the power away. Personally, I am guilty of assuming the glass is half empty until proven full, we all know happiness and optimism is partly a choice, but it can be exhausting and negativity can wedge itself in. Fear not, I have presented a few remedies for us to relax through it and calm those pesky little mind storms we all have, because after all we are only human and our evolution is ongoing.

Some food for thought...Believe it or not, roughly 100, 000 to 300,000 years ago, chammomile was used by Neanderthals as a soothing, relaxing tea. An article in The Times, June 19th of 2012, reveals this amazing fact, after the fossilized teeth found traces of this. The study done by the University of York and Autonoma Barcelona shows without a doubt, archaic human ancestors also partook in a cup of tea, and picked bitter herbs for their medicinal value. It seems that brewing a nice pot of tea as a reward for a hard day hunting-and-gathering is imprinted in our very DNA, since the dawn of Neandethals, Hominoids, Cro-Magnon, and us Homo Sapiens.

STEP ONE: TRIGGER POINT

The most important thing we can do is to figure out the trigger, or the tiny mental earthquake that amplifies to create the tsunami. What is the person, place, thing, that triggers the emotinal reaction that is borne from a painful event? History does not have to repeat itself, we can diffuse the pain, so once you are aware of the knife that creates the wound, you can sheath it. If you have trouble figuring out what sends you spinning out of control, or you know you tend to create your own storms. Talking it out with friends and family is a good start, if that is not enough and you still cannot pinpoint the trigger, I suggest talking with a councellor, or cognitive therapist, or a psychologist, because it can do wonders for self-awareness and healing.

STEP TWO: AWARENESS IS MINDFULNESS

Awareness of the problem and the presence of mind, or mindfulness is key to a more peaceful mindset. Because what is learned can be unlearned, or replaced by a healthier thinking pattern, break the old pattern and create a new one to counter it, this creates equilibrium that is essential. There is an old saying that a man walks down the street and falls into the same hole over and over, but once he knows its location, he or she can navigate themselves around it, and not fall into the same pitfall over and over. Once you have this awareness you are armed with cloudbursting capabilities to bust up the mind storm, and a new balance or equilibrium.

STEP THREE: BREATHE, RELAX, CALM YOUR MIND, STILL THE FEARS.

Pop your fear!!! Make it vanish and become powerless over you. As steam rises from the cup of tea, allow your resistance, your doubts, your fears, to simply evaporate into the air, let them go, you do not want them, do not let them anchor you...be as airy and free as the ether. Each time you calm the storms, you are dissolving, dissipating, and rendering powerless old hurt, old pain, old wounds, so that you can heal. As you heal, it becomes easier the next time, as your thought patterns become healthier.

We don't have to become Alice like in Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass", we will not become as frantic as the White Rabbit, or as loopy as the Mad Hatter. Fall not down the rabbit hole but pull yourself out and keep yourself out by slowing down and having a cup of tea. Arthur Conan Doyle's iconic character Sherlock Holmes enjoys a nice riveting cup of Lapsang Souchong, a traditional Chinese black tea that is smoked over pine, making it woody and soaking in some of the pine essence.

Tea began as a medicine and grew into a beverage.

-Katkuzo Okakura

The Japanese Zen Buddhist tea ceremony has been perfected and used for centuries as healing ritual for the mind, body, and soul. Origins of precise and disciplined ceremony come out of southern Asia beginning in the 6th Century, but it was Emperor Shomu who is credited with making the tea ceremony widespread, and popularizing the matcha (green tea powder) still used today. The Japanese word chado, or chanoyu means "hot water for tea", simple, just like the Zen Buddhist aesthetics. The art of tea is a combination of many beautiful things aligning with the principles of harmony, respect, tranquility, and purity.

Leonard Koren, the tea ceremony "became an eclectic social art form combining, among other things, the skills of architecture, interior and garden design, flower arranging, painting, food preparation, and performance."

I boil water

I make tea

This is my magic

-Buddhist saying

As part of a monk's daily spiritual practice, tea is consumed. The book, Amalgamation of the Sources of the Five Lamps records that: "Drinking three cups of tea after each meal was the tradition of Chan monks." Hence, drinking tea was an important aspect in a monk’s daily routine, a custom that remains popular and respected to this day. "The Dharma lives within the world, enlightenment cannot be attained outside of living.: With Chan we approach our daily life through an internal peace of mind and reflect on our true nature. We can attain peace of mind or a spiritual awakening through the most ordinary sctivities such as drinking tea, eating, and putting on clothes. If we separate meditating from living, we lose touch with reality." From BUDDHISM & THE TEA CEREMONY, written by Venerable Master Hsing Yun Translated by Irene Poon.

Tea is a very ancient and sacred way of healing and calming yourself, from the time our ancestors figured out how to make fire, the cauldron soon followed for brewing tea. Tea is a very communal activity, brew a pot of extra special tea and share it with your family. Call a friend, and meet them for tea and your soul will be filled up and warmed. Better yet, have a tea party, go all out, you will fill up your stores of joy enough to get you through. It becomes magical in the social bonds this simple, but vital nurturing ritual reinforces.

The everyday is sacred and the mundane becomes divine. What we think of as trivial, routine, or mundane should be refocused as a tiny blessing, an opportunity at ritual, and ancient traditions.

Breathe!!! Sip!!! Enjoy!!!

By Carmen Zavislake

IMAGE SOURCE: tempest teacup Zen style by Joanna Steetly.

SUGGESTED READING:

Afternoon Tea: A Timeless Tradition by Muriel Moffat.

An Introduction to Japanese Tea Ritual by Jennifer Lea Anderson.

Tea Culture: History, Celebrations, Recipes, And More by Beverly Dubrin.

The Classic of Tea: Origins & Rituals by Yü Lu.

The Joy of Family Rituals: Recipes for Everyday Living by Barbara Biziou.

The Story of Tea: A Cultural History and Drinking Guide

by Mary Lou Heiss, Robert J. Heiss

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