Thursday, April 9, 2015

Matcha Meditation with The Shinnyo Center

The life of a tea blogger can seem a bit bizarre to those who haven't been bitten by the Camellia Sinensis bug. I get to drink a lot of tea but one of my favorite things is the wonderful experiences that never would have happened otherwise. I received an invitation on Twitter from The Shinnyo Center to attend a matcha mediation last week. My yoga instructor did some guided meditations during class but that was the extent of my experience with meditation. I wasn't sure what to expect but I was able to bring a guest so I asked +Jo J to come along for the ride. We were happy to find that fellow bloggers +Georgia SS  and +Jee Choe were also in attendance.

The center was a very beautiful and serene space. I almost instantly felt the stress of the work day lighten a bit. I was very happy to hear that this series of matcha meditations was a collaboration with the Urasenke Chanoyu Center of New York. Our meditation guide, Qalvy Grainzvolt, did a great job of letting us know what to expect. First, we watched as the ladies of Urasenke skillfully performed a formal tea ceremony. It would have been hard to see every movement but they thoughtfully projected it all onto screens so that we wouldn't miss a thing.

Qalvy then guided us through a short sitting meditation. The breathing and visualization exercises really helped me to relax and focus. He asked us to imagine our ideal tea house. I know at least four people in the audience who likely did not have any trouble with that part. A beautiful shot of Mt. Fuji that I spotted on Instagram came to mind as the view from my imaginary sanctuary. As we were all deep in meditation, the Urasenke ladies were hard at work whisking up bowls of frothy goodness for everyone. The meditation continued as they worked to hand everyone their bowls.

My turn finally came and the tea was absolutely delicious. As a funny coincidence, my bowl was painted with an image of Mt. Fuji. I don't know if I've ever enjoyed a bowl of matcha quite so much. I'm sure a large part of that was the skill with which it was prepared. However, I think that my state of mind after the meditation had something to do with it as well. I will definitely be experimenting with that a bit in the future. I am so glad that The Shinnyo Center found me on Twitter. Their center was an oasis of calm that I feel drawn to return to.