Tea ceremony and meditation may seem unrelated to sports activities as weightlifting or building a business. Nevertheless, those activities are related in a very elementary way. This significant trait of all three activities is something that we often forget in our day to day lives. But remembering this can help us to live more thoughtfully, patient and happily.
So, what is the similarity? Each activity is a journey on which you can only gain results and improve through continuous repetition. It is impossible to do a lot in one day and then somehow expect to suddenly know everything. This is obvious in the case of weightlifting. Even when you workout the entire day, you won’t grow a massive body overnight. It takes continuous practice and dedication; perseverance and patience to build a body like that.
It isn’t any different for the mind. Through repetitive meditation practice you will gradually improve your grasp on, and understanding of your own mind. The mind is something we think we have complete control over. But in fact it is just as uncontrollable as little children running round the house, ignoring every word you say. Only by training and practicing little bits at a time you improve and gradually nurture results.
Why do I meditate?
I choose to meditate to practice quietly observing the activity that is going on inside my mind. This helps me to cultivate an awareness that a lot is happening inside my head that is beyond my control.
Understanding that “I” (for whatever that I believe “I” am) am not 100% in control of my thoughts, emotions, reactions, etc., helps me to be more mindful of the things I say and do.
I create the habit to assess if what I am about to say or do is truly necessary or just, and aim to make better decisions in my day to day activities.
Meditation helps me to be less impulsive, and be more mindful in my (inter)actions.
This benefits me because I am more in control, which helps me to choose more happy and benevolent responses to impulses. And it benefits other people because I will bring better energy to the moment as well as more positive engagement.
To understand who you essentially are helps you to be more in charge of yourself. And by being more in charge of yourself, you benefit others because you will be more ready to make the right choice and do the right thing that will make you, and everyone else happy.
The tea ceremony, again, is no different. Only through diligence and frequent practice you will be able to gain a sound understanding of what this ritual is. The tea ceremony isn’t a skill you learn. It is much more than that, and it takes patience and practice to cultivate a suitable state of mind and the proper muscular memory to be able to successfully host a service of tea.
Tea ceremony reminds us of what life essentially is about. Which little things bring us joy? What do we pay attention to, and what is our attitude to our surroundings? What do we value?
Tiny things as a cup of tea, or kind words to someone, have an impact far greater than we can imagine. Small gestures have great results. Your greatest gift to the world is your positive attitude to life. And this can be learned through patiently and diligently learning tea ceremony.
Tea ceremony ultimately is hospitality.
Tea ceremony is a wrong translation of what it essentially means in Japan. The correct translation of the tea ceremony is the rite of hospitality. I have termed it so because the core of this ritual is the creation of a hospitable occasion.
The core focus of a tea person is to create an environment in which his guests feel at home; feel comfortable and at ease; are happy; and are allowed to be themselves.
Practicing the ritual teaches us how to be of service to others and how to tend to their needs. We learn to substitute our ego and selfish wants to the desires and needs of others.
These are all virtues in our world, but many of them are often forgotten. If we extend the teachings of the rite of tea to our everyday lives and interactions we can become better people altogether. We learn to be more compassionate and caring for others. We learn to think of others and try to discover what would please them. And at macro-scale this will contribute to a better world.
The greater person
I am certainly not saying that a tea master is meek and submissive. On the contrary, he is strong and understanding of the fact that the greater person is he who knows that showing love and care for others is what contributes most to peaceful and beautiful coexistence.
In business, giving to others what you want them to take from you, isn’t really giving. It is selfishly imposing your wants onto them and is basically a bad strategy for enduring business relationships. On the other hand, trying to understand what others need, and giving them that what they truly want, is true giving. This attitude will build stronger, lasting relationships. Why? Because that is how we as humans function. Don’t you favor the person who “gets” you and unconditionally helps you with the things you need? And don’t you try to avoid the person who always gives you things but expects something in return?
How can I be of service? Isn’t this how a great businessperson, entrepreneur or freelancer thinks? Ultimately you want to help other people and bring them value. But what is valuable to them is not yours to decide. Understanding their needs, and acting on them is the only way to build a lasting relationship. And that is what tea ceremony is about; building and maintaining relationships through being of service to others. Entertaining them in a way that they feel cared for and important.
True service is subordinating your ego for the benefit of the greater good.
The key to being a skilled tea master, a meditator who can bring his practice into his daily activities, or a muscular bodybuilder, comes down to patience. Children grow according to their age. They won’t suddenly become 12 years old or 21 years old because you somehow have taught them the “skill” a person of that age group requires. Plants don’t grow flowers overnight because you gave them liters of water the previous day. (On the contrary, they’ll drown)
Everything takes time and requires patience and endurance as you dedicate yourself to continuous practice. In addition, your practice should be in line with your level of advancement. You can’t expect to lift 100kg when you have just started out. Similarly, you have to begin with the basics when learning tea ceremony.
And most importantly, take step by step. Don’t rush and overdo it because you’ll drown, just as the plants that received liters of water at once. The key to building a strong body, becoming a good meditator, mastering the tea ceremony, or building a business is the following:
Do something everyday; But don’t try to do everything today.