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In China, Autumn is associated with of courage and sadness which arise as the days get shorter and nature winds down in order to begin a new cycle of growth. Sadness and courage are natural emotions, as essential as Autumn itself. They believe these emotions should be embraced as a way for harmony, and through this acknowledgement of harmony in the natural order of things, one can transcend the emotion’s crippling potential.
When you drink your cup of tea you are provided an opportunity to attune yourself to the environment around you and the emotions inside you. With every sip, embrace things as they are, flow with them as the liquid flows into your cells.
The Tiger is associated with willpower, courage, physical and inner strength. The tiger’s beauty, masking its hidden prowess and ferocity, is regarded as a visual harmony of opposites. Autumn and the Tea Practice represents finding harmony by integrating with our surrounding environment.
Lu Yu reminds us to “always sip tea as if it were life itself.” Tea heightens your senses, allowing you to perceive more. Tea brings your mind to the present moment through its chemical constituents that enhance neural activity, resulting in focus. Life is a duality, a continual stream of opposites. By being present we can harmonise with these opposites and transform our experience of life.
In Japan, the seasons are a fundamental means of categorising the world. There is a highly encoded representation of nature as it is related to everyday life. In the practice of Tea, or Chado, the focus is on establishing harmony with ones surrounding environment by acknowledging its beauty and being present through a mindfulness of the outside world.
By bringing mindfulness into your daily life, you can cultivate a spirit of peace. When you make a cup of tea, listen for the bubbling of the water. Touch the tealeaves, absorb the tea’s smell and taste it with every cell in your body. Take time for tea. This creates presence, focus and therefore is peace in a moment.
In the practice of “Gong fu”, translated as “making tea with skill”, brewing tea should be done with skill and mastery. . It is about finding the harmony to coincide with the circumstances at hand. It means analysing the environment and adapting to it, thereby aligning the conditions to harness the potential of that moment for the perfect cup of tea.
Autumn allows us to harmony with our environment and therefore ourselves. By being fluid and receptive to changing circumstances one can experience tea fully, as both an artistic expression and a spiritual endeavour of self discovery. One moment may require one pot and temperature of water, and in the next moment those requirements will change.
“That is the beauty of the tea ceremony: it must remain fluid, finding space to function in whatever Here and Now it occurs within.” – Aaron Fisher: Way of Tea