Oct 6, 2007

Sensei says....

Tea is movement. It gets us out of our heads, into our bodies, so we can touch our souls.

We live a lot in our heads, often times without connection to our bodies, nature or the seasons. When we say we have learned something, it is knowledge stored in our brains, with no true experience for us to call upon.

When we first learned to ride a bicycle, we did not learn by attending lectures on bicycle riding, nor did we interview bike riders about the experience. We didn’t view videos or read books about bicycle riding or learn the physics of gyroscopes that keep us upright while on a bicycle. No, we got on our bicycle and tried it. We wobbled and fell down, scraped our knees, and got back on until we had mastered riding that bicycle. What a feeling of accomplishment, movement and freedom it was riding that first time in control.

Chanoyu is movement. All the moves are experiential. You feel it in your body with every breath and every step in the tea room. It is not just in the tea room. It is all the preparations such as keeping to seasonal themes, looking for and arranging the flowers as well as the cleaning before and after that become your experience. With our bodies moving, paying attention to what we are doing gets us out of our self talk. As we move through the ritual, if we have trained our bodies, it knows how to move, what to do. The movements of tea allow our breathing to synchronize with our guests, and communication at a deeper level than talking becomes possible. As we go deeper into the ritual it can even become a spiritual experience, transcending time and place. This, then, is what sensei meant when he said, “… out of our heads, into our bodies so that we can touch our souls.”

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