Apr 7, 2009

Slow Down

Another lesson I took from the koshukai is that I need to slow down. My mind is always full of thngs, and as Christy sensei told me that an active mind manifests as an active body. I sometimes do things so fast that the guests don’t have time to catch their breath or visually rest when they watch me make tea. Especially with koicha, the pace is slower than with usucha to give the ceremony more weight.

This is not a new problem for me. I know that my mind moves very fast, and I talk very fast. When I get nervous, I move and talk even faster. I am getting better though, Christy sensei did find a few places while I was making tea that were restful, but I really need to slow down.

One way I do this is to pay attention to my breathing. Whenever I am nervous or excited, I tend to hold my breath or breathe very shallowly. Taking one or two deep breaths helps to restore oxygen to my system and my brain seems to function better. Continuing to breathe while my body is moving tends to focus my mind, slow down my nervous tics and allows me to be more present.

From the beginning of entering the tea room until the last act of closing the door, your breathing should be even and controlled. This breathing helps to control the pace of the procedure. As you begin the procedure, folding your fukusa, your guests will begin to breathe in unison with you. It is amazing what happens to the harmony in the room when everyone is breathing in unison.

If you have the opposite problem that I do, of being too slow and too deliberate, increasing the pace of your breathing very slightly will help the pace of your tea procedure. Holding your breath while you make tea does not do you any good at all. You must breathe.

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