Sip Into Stillness: The Power of a Tea Ceremony

Learn the meditative benefits of a traditional tea ceremony.

Join Kat Mills on August 19 at Wanderlust Hollywood for an hour-long tea ceremony and discover a healthy way to ease into the weekend. If you're in the L.A. area, be sure to also mark your calendar for August 28, when revered Yogi Charu will be coming to Wanderlust Hollywood to guide students through a powerful practice. Click here for tickets to Kat's event, and here for tickets to Yogi Charu's. We can't wait to see you there!
The search for tranquility in our chaotic world is not only a necessity, but a journey with ever-expanding opportunity. As the chaos rushes on around us, the more methods we learn to help us create a reflective space for ourselves, the better our chances of experiencing inner peace. As we become more awake to the benefits of meditation, mindfulness of thought and action, and essentiality of stillness, finding a practice that best serves us as individuals makes a balanced lifestyle all the more accessible. One of these methods is the practice of the Tea Ceremony, or Cha Dao—the way of the tea. Cha Dao is a centuries-old meditative practice that teaches students to turn the pleasurable routine of brewing and drinking tea into a ritual steeped in quiet intention. The act of preparing, reflecting on, and consuming the tea becomes a meditation that is at once delicious and serene.

Ceremony Roots

Dating back to the ninth century as a Buddhist practice, the tea ceremony was adapted by the Japanese as a way to be fully immersed in the present moment. Instead of drinking tea as a means to an end, the Cha Dao asks students to pause and notice the entire process: from the creation intrinsic to the brewing and steeping to the necessary destruction that occurs in the shared consumption. When we pay close attention to something as simple as the experience of tea, we find within it the complex reflection of life and death, and are able to celebrate the present. Yogi and tea-enthusiast Kat Mills describes her first experience sipping from the bowl during a ceremony as, “drinking from the Earth... I felt the essence of this plant awaken my senses and open my heart,” she says. Kat sees tea as an agent of connection, a facilitator of guidance. “Tea has taken me deeper on the inward journey, revealing many lessons along the way," she says. "Whether I am simply sitting with tea as a meditative practice, refining my brewing skills, or learning ceremonial procedures, I'm constantly being shown a reflection of myself in the present.”

The Power of Ceremony

The wisdom that results from reflection on the simple and minute has the potential to expand consciousness—and find peace. Tea ceremonies are both ritualistic and communal, the preparation and sharing of which can be likened to performance art. They are concentrated, intentional, and meaningful. Traditionally, when participants arrive at a tea ceremony, hands and feet are washed as a sign of cleansing to prepare in reverence. The host of the ceremony will offer a tea bowl which the first guest will sip from, wipe clean, and pass it to the next guest. Depending on one’s practice, some ceremonies may include more subtle elements including repeating a prescribed phrase after sipping the tea. By participating in a tea ceremony we not only get to explore the quiet and stillness within our individual self, but to be in communion with those sharing in the ceremony. As Kat so eloquently says, “Sitting in ceremony allows us to collectively be still and gaze upon the moment with reverence… This to me, this is the magic of tea. It's a secret whispered in the gentle curl of steam rising from the bowl, connecting us with the self, each other, nature and spirit.” — erin wardErin Ward is a freelance writer, yoga teacher, and navigator at Wanderlust Hollywood.