How do you drink your tea? For Zen Buddhist philosopher Rikyu, born in 1522, drinking tea was about returning to the simplicity of life. During his lifetime the Japanese were constantly looking for more: more wealth, more stuff. Rikyu saw a disconnect in living this type of life, so he proposed another option; a life led by the principle wabi-sabi. Wabi meaning simplicity and sabi defined as appreciating the imperfections.
His biggest changes were with the traditional tea ceremony: from the teahouses to the cups the tea was served in. He encouraged the Japanese to let go of the ornate teahouses and decorative cups and return to simpler principles.
Rikyu-styled teahouses were less than two metres squares, separated from the home and ideally surrounded by nature. The door was built deliberately small, so everyone who walked in would have to slightly bow. Within this space, he encouraged people to drink from older vessels, like worn bamboo scoops marked by the passing of time. Drinking tea was about slowing down, finding harmony, and rediscovering tranquility.
For today, try embodying Rikyu’s principles while preparing and drinking a cup of tea. Immerse yourself in the entire process. Take the time to appreciate the beauty in the process, from the gentle bubbling in the water to watching the leaves slowly unfurl. While drinking, allow each sip to slowly penetrate your body. Perhaps step outside and take in the beauty that surrounds you.
Enjoy this moment of tranquility.