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Lions Roar : May 2017
HERE IS A HOMEMADE KOAN for drinking tea: Who is enjoying this tea? Ask yourself this question with each sip. When you encounter that person, let them go. You need a break from their story now and then. Otherwise your tea break will not really be a break at all. Constantly rehearsing the story of our roles, obligations, and commitments wears us down. Yes, we may be mothers, doctors, servers, or office workers, but at the core, we are more than these things. JOSEPH EMET is a Buddhist teacher and the author of Finding the Blue Sky: A Mindful Approach to Choosing Happiness Here and Now (TarcherPerigee). We are “breath-breathing humans,” as the Sufi poet Rumi said. Whatever your story, you are more than that story. Get in touch—and stay in touch—with the breath-breathing human you are as you enjoy your tea. “Just this,” remind yourself with each sip. “Just this.” Sit and breathe like a flower in a meadow, enjoying the sun. If you have ever watched one of Thich Nhat Hanh’s talks, you have probably witnessed elements of tea meditation. Halfway through a talk, Thich Nhat Hanh will pause and pour himself a cup of tea. Then, as several hundred listen- ers watch his every move, he will slowly raise the cup to his lips and enjoy a few unhurried sips. He sometimes holds the cup with both hands as if to illustrate that his whole attention is on it. Thich Nhat Hanh truly takes a break when he drinks his tea. He is not using the time to prepare his next topic. Para- doxically, taking a true break is more effective than using the time to think of your next move. As you disengage even momentarily from your surface mind, you access deeper layers of your self to include in your discourse or journey. That allows you to talk, move, and act more authentically as a whole person. Thich Nhat Hanh can do this in the presence of hundreds. See if you can do it when you are having tea with someone (or ILLUSTRATIONSBYTOMIUM HOW TO PRACTICE Drinking a Mindful Cup of Tea A cup of tea or coffee is a nice break. Drinking it mindfully is a real break. JOSEPH EMET teaches us this five-step practice. LION’S ROAR | MAY 2017 29 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE