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Awakening Qi with Morning Tea

As a frequent tea drinker I have always been aware that the tea I drink provides both a deeply calming and awakening effect. Only in these last few days have I learned that this is caused by a great amount of positive Qi held within the tea leaves. Every morning as the sun is rising and the Qi within everyone is waking, our instructor Patricia can be found leading a meditation designed to fully absorb the tea’s Qi. The ritual includes steeping the tea with dates and ginger (both of which are also full of good Qi). The spice of the ginger awakens the senses, and the hardiness of the dates fills the body with positivity. We begin by steaming our faces with the hot tea, moving from the eyes, to the forehead, to the chin, and then to the nose. The fragrant steam relaxes the face muscles, and by steaming these parts of our faces we show them that they are loved and appreciated. As this is done we repeat a simple mantra, “对不起,请原谅,谢谢你,我爱你。” (“Duìbùqǐ, qǐng yuánliàng, xièxiè nǐ, wǒ ài nǐ.”) which means “I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.” We then drink the tea in four large sips, using each sip to heat a different part of our mouth before we swallow it, and as we drink the tea we pay attention to the warmth and qi that it gives to our body. Finally we eat the ginger and then the dates, chewing each 72 times. All of this is done without a word, and instead to the sound of guqin music, which makes me think of ancient Chinese sages and poets. In the past I have always found it difficult to meditate. I become impatient and antsy and focus on what I want the result of the meditation to be and therefore do not pay attention to the act of meditating. But using tea to meditate has made it so much easier, every morning I find that I am relaxed and thoughtful after the practice and even though I have to wake up very early to participate, I feel more awake and energized throughout my day. I am so happy and thankful that I have the opportunity to begin each day in such a wonderful way, and I hope that I will always be able to wake with tea, Qi, and mindfulness.