Tastings

 

Robert Louis Stevenson once said, ‘So long as we love, we serve”. 

We believe that contained within the art of tea tastings we find balance.  Within this art we slow our breath and embrace this present moment.  It holds the coming together of the past and the future of time itself.  Time and space become one.  We learn of relationship.  We develop connection through the fullness of our own singularity.  We learn about the relationship of ourselves to the many facets of life.  Contained in the practice of meditation and prayer we learn of our inner world.   While we taste the warming beverage of tea we blend the opposites of life.  We balance these opposites through the focus of our senses.  We utilize our breath to connect to the aromas expressed in the tea.   We spearhead our attention in the harmonies of the color, aromas, and then the flavors of tea.  We discover the intent of those that planted, nurtured, and harvested the tea.  We taste the mastery of the blender through their vision.   We explore the synergy of herbs, teas and the outcomes.  We maximize the potential of relationship, that to our inner core, our soul, and then to others.

While we slow our attention to the magic held within the flavors of our tea we also slow our scope of thought.  We reduce the scope of life to a small slice of time.  The regrets of the past and the fears of the future silently funnel into the beauty of this present moment.  The subsequent slowing of our breath slows the pace of our mind.  Day and night, light and darkness cease to be separate.  The yin and yang of life find contentment in the beautiful integration of the tea’s aromas, flavors and colors.  The umami of life itself unfolds through the many flavors of the tea.  We now create new perspectives. The material and spiritual find balance.  The separation of the head and the heart are no more. Heaven and earth become one.  Our process of breath through the inhalation and the exhalation are one complete unifying process. The space between breaths takes upon a life of its own.  The zero point on a number line lives and is now packed with meaning and purpose. We find value and fullness in the dimension held within this emptiness.  Love, as a seedling breaks through the top soil of a yearning heart.

We understand the whole through its parts; its opposites and contradictions.  We now embrace all the divisiveness life has to offer.  We comprehend. Through this comprehension we find peace.  We discover contentment.  We become aware how light contains the fullness of its color spectrum.  We learn how through its absence springs darkness.  Through the absence of sound, we discover the potential of silence. Thus, in the absence of light we find darkness hovering with possibilities.  We begin to feel the dawn of compassion. We observe it unfold its form and wonder through its beautifully inspiring structure.

We call this method of tea consumption, the American Tea Ceremony.  The wonders of the American Spirit and its many contradictions find its fullness through it opposites and contradictions.  The varied aspects of sound and the multitudes of blending light are but a reflection and reverberation of America itself.  Through this artform of a tea ceremony we honor these divisions.  We embrace them and find joy and harmony within them for this is America.  It is similar to the complexities we discover within ourselves.  We open the heart to display this same rainbow of diversity and precision. Through its apparent contradictions there is a magic and a splendor of beautiful precision.

In the slow pace of tea consumption, we hear for the first time.  We cease to be deaf.  We listen to the sounds of the universe within.  We observe for the first time.  The light within takes shape.  We begin to hear and listen to the fulcrum of life within the center of our conscious awareness.  We find the purity of the observer.  We now are aware of the inner meaning and purpose of our existence. The opposites contained within the whole find balance.  We bring harmony to our outer world because we have now discovered it within our inner world.  Our lives are now a reflection of what shines forth from our inner spirit.  We balance the opposites of meditation and prayer as well the balancing poles of health and well-being.   The mystery of tasting tea now becomes alive with possibilities.  Our journey now makes sense.  Our discoveries now have value and meaning. Through the singularity of our inner connections, we now enjoy the completeness of relationship.

In prayer we speak to God.  In meditation we listen for His response.  In tea we embrace the wonder and beauty of that dialogue.

Robert Louis Stevenson once said, ‘So long as we love, we serve”. 

In our attempt to serve you, we would like to encourage tea consumption.  As we have come to understand its many benefits to both health and well-being, we hope to assist you in the process of finding balance through tea.  For this reason, we will be conducting tea tastings throughout the United States so that we may attempt to build relationships from within and without.     

                                                                                                                                                    


 

Steve Jobs’s Secret by Hitendra Wadhwa & inc.com

Steve Jobs’s Secret to Greatness: Yogananda

The story of the spiritual teacher who was a silent force in the life of the most important entrepreneur of our times.

By Hitendra WadhwaFounder, Institute for Personal Leadership@hitendraw

Paramahansa Yogananda.
 

Steve Jobs planned every detail of his own memorial service, held at Stanford University in October 2011, including the brown box each attendee received as a farewell gift. One of those attendees was Mark Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com, and two years later at a TechCrunch Disrupt conference he recounted his feelings at the moment when he opened the box: “This is going to be good,” he recalled. “I knew that this was a decision [Steve] made, and whatever it was, it was the last thing he wanted us all to think about.”

The box contained the book Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda. Benioff continued: “Yogananda…had this book on self-realization…. [Steve’s] last message to us was that here is Yogananda’s book…. Actualize yourself.

 

“I look at Steve as a very spiritual person,” he added. “[Steve] had this incredible realization–that his intuition was his greatest gift and he needed to look at the world from the inside out.”

This inner-oriented perspective may be getting lost not only to entrepreneurs, but to modern practitioners of physical yoga too. As the world celebrates the first International Yoga Daytoday, it is valuable for entrepreneurs and yogis alike to step back from the unending pursuit of outer results to explore Jobs’s and Yogananda’s message of self-realization. What possibilities might freshly emerge in your search for success–in work and in life–if you too look at the world from the inside out?

Yoga, a discipline from India that is so ancient in its roots that you can credit it only to unknown truth-seekers from some glorious past era, has an outer form that has seized our collective imagination: For 30 minutes every day, disconnect from the world, take your body through an array of yoga poses, breathe deeply, keep the mind focused, and presto! You will emerge relaxed, rejuvenated, and ready again to re-engage with the relentless pace of life.

By all accounts, yoga is one of modern civilization’s great movements. In the U.S. alone, more than 20 million people today are pursuing yoga–one of every 10 adults. This yoga revival is in direct response to an increased hunger for physical and mental well-being, and a growing suspicion that there’s more to the pursuit of happiness than the material accoutrements of modern civilization. A panoply of yoga instructors have arrived to offer their own twists to ancient poses. Western inventiveness has flourished in the bountiful soil of yoga; today, some instructors are even offering doga–yoga for your dog.

 

Yoga’s deeper purpose: Inner transformation.

But Jobs was on a quest for something altogether more powerful than stress-reduction, toning, and fitness. He was seeking the kind of inner transformation that many practitioners sense yoga is inviting them to embark on, but don’t know where it will take them or how to get there.

For this deeper dive, you can turn to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, one of the authoritative and few-surviving ancient texts on yoga. Patanjali teaches that “yoga” means “union”–the dissolving of one’s individual self in the larger ocean of consciousness that pervades the universe–and that to help us achieve this union is yoga’s real purpose. Now you might think: “What is this ‘universal consciousness’ that Patanjali is talking about? And how can I ever get there?”

And that may be why Jobs, in his own quest for higher consciousness, turned to Yogananda.

 

Yogananda’s story is an inspiring lesson in spiritual entrepreneurship. Born in 1893 in Gorakhpur, India, he alighted on American soil at the young age of 27 with little money in his pocket but with a firm resolve to reawaken humanity to the power of yoga for inner transformation. Over the next few years he brought this message to packed audiences of thousands in all major U.S. cities, at Carnegie Hall in New York City, for example, dressing this ancient teaching in a practical modern form he called self-realization–a journey he characterized as transcending your individual self (ego) and realizing and reclaiming your true universal self (soul). As the American people were being buffeted by the thunderous wrath of two world wars and a major depression, he exhorted them to practice yoga so they could discover that the spiritual anchorage they were seeking was already with them–in fact, it was within them. The successful yogi, he stated, “can stand unshaken amidst the crash of breaking worlds.”

It is no wonder that many accomplished men and women of Yogananda’s era took to his teaching, including the entrepreneur George Eastman, founder of Kodak; the acclaimed opera singer Amelita Galli-Curci; the tenor Vladimir Rosing; and the plant scientist Luther Burbank. Even U.S. president Calvin Coolidge invited Yogananda to the White House for a personal audience. Today he is recognized among yoga experts as the father of yoga in the West.

Great teachers look into the vast beyond and then craft their message to speak not just to their immediate audience but to future generations as well. As early as 1920, Yogananda recognized that yoga would be a boundless fountain to quench people’s growing thirst for meaning, authenticity, and a personal experience of truth. So, with an entrepreneurial flair not typical among spiritual teachers, he laid the foundation of an institution, Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF), to ignite the inner flame of yoga in communities worldwide. He once said, “I don’t use religion for business but I use business principles in religion.” Today, there are hundreds of SRF meditation groups and centers around the world that serve tens of thousands of members. He also worked to develop living exemplars of his teachings by setting up a monastic order within SRF that now includes more than 250 monks and nuns dedicated to their own pursuit of soul-unfoldment and to serving his organization’s mission.

The journey to self-realization: Yogananda’s practical techniques.

 

Yogananda’s teachings don’t simply stop at the idea of universal consciousness. He correctly anticipated the growing hunger among spiritual seekers for direct personal experience of the universal consciousness that the masters of yoga, and indeed mystics of every religious tradition, describe. He therefore synthesized a set of powerful but practical techniques to guide truth-seekers on the spiritual path all the way to the ultimate union, drawing on the eight steps laid out by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras.

The modern conception of yoga–with its emphasis on outer transformation–is based on the third of Patanjali’s eight steps, “asana.” Asana emphasizes physical fitness for the purpose of getting the body ready for the stillness that is required for the inner journey taken in the subsequent steps. But prior even to asana are Patanjali’s first two steps of “yama” and “niyama”–principles to guide one’s everyday conduct and to prepare oneself for inner realization. Yoga emphasizes the importance of self-discipline as a foundation for harmonious physical, mental, and spiritual development.

Yogananda’s particular genius was showing the modern applicability of these ancient principles, attuning himself to an audience who aspired as much to outer success as inner growth by delivering talks on topics like “The Science of Healing” and “The Art of Getting What You Want.” In that regard, he was a forerunner to 21st-century psychologists, physicians, psychotherapists, and neuroscientists who are generating powerful scientific findings on human nature and well-being–all aligned with Yogananda’s teachings on consciousness, thoughts, emotions, habits, and brain wiring.  

Patanjali’s final five steps beyond asana relate to a progressive deepening of the seeker’s journey toward realization of the universal self, with meditation providing the pathway. However, Patanjali’s text on these final five steps is agonizingly cryptic, with no guidance on how to execute them. To fill this void, Yogananda, ever the spiritual innovator, introduced the West to an advanced but long-lost ancient technique of meditation, Kriya Yoga. Kriya, he said, offered the ultimate journey of inner transformation, helping practitioners tap into an ever-expanding love and ever-deepening joy that would spring from within. That, he asserted, was man’s true nature–a perfection that represents our permanent state of self within, even as it is so elusive to capture without.

 

Kriya “works like mathematics,” he stated, emphasizing the empirical, scientific nature of this technique. Through regular practice, he claimed, Kriya will change the neural pathways in the brain. Really, you might wonder? Can the act of mindful focusing and of interiorizing our consciousness actually bring about physical changes in the brain? Very few scientists at Yogananda’s time would have been comfortable with his claims. Yet today revolutionary new findings in neuroscience are showing that meditation does in fact bring favorable changes in the neural pathways of the brain. Scientific laboratories are now stumbling into truths experienced by yogis across the ages in, as Yogananda would say, the inner laboratories of their personal experience.

And what would be the markers that people could look for to assess their inner progress? Lower stress? Greater peace? He had begun his own quest for self-realization very early in life, a story vibrantly captured in the critically acclaimed 2014 documentary Awake: The Life of Yogananda. His youthful search culminated in his master Sri Yukteswar giving him the monastic name “Yogananda,” which means “bliss through yoga.” True to his name, he exhorted truth-seekers to savor the early rewards of peace and well-being, but to then seek out the ultimate prize: eternal bliss, universal consciousness. “When by constant practice of Kriya, the consciousness of [the] blissful state of the spiritual self becomes real, we find ourselves always in the holy presence of the blissful God in us.” God, to Yogananda, was thus not an external force to be idolized and appropriated by any particular religion, but an inner force to be awakened to and realized.

To some, the yogic pursuit of inner perfection may appear a little selfish. Shouldn’t we be solving the world’s most vexing problems, rather than withdrawing into blissful inner communion? In fact, one time, when Yogananda sat still, absorbed in a particularly blissful state of consciousness, his spiritual master admonished him: “You must not get overdrunk with ecstasy. Much work yet remains for you in the world.” So Yogananda learned that this choice between outer service and inner joy represents a false dichotomy. The yoga he taught emphasizes balancing service with meditation, and highlights the expansion of consciousness that comes when we are able to go beyond our human self and open ourselves up, through inner realization, to a deeper connection with every living being–in fact, with every atom in the universe. “When the ‘I’ shall die, then shall I know who am I,” he stated.

How Steve Jobs approached success from the inside out.

 

Yogananda’s teaching of universal consciousness strongly appealed to Steve Jobs, who had a self-professed hunger to “make a dent in the universe.” At the TechCrunch conference in September 2013, Mark Benioff said: “[Yogananda’s book] gives tremendous insight into not just who [Jobs] was but also why he was successful, which is that he was not afraid to take that key journey [toward self-realization]. It is for entrepreneurs and for people who want to be successful in our industry a message that we need to embrace and vest ourselves in.”

Since Yogananda’s passing in 1952, many teachers have followed his trailblazing path to bring yoga to our world, helping make it a fixture in popular culture as it continues to take hold with young and old, the elite and the ordinary, the spiritualists and the atheists. What distinguishes Yogananda from these subsequent emissaries is not simply that he paved the way for the modern yoga movement, but that from the outset he focused far beyond physical exercises and shone a powerful and practical torchlight on the path to yoga’s true purpose: actualizing the infinite potentials within us all. Perhaps that is why his Autobiography of a Yogi was the only book Jobs downloaded on his iPad–and, after first encountering the book as a teenager, went back and reread once every year.

On this first International Yoga Day, let’s tip our hats to the teacher who first introduced the modern world to the transformative power of yoga as a timeless inner discipline, and who was such a silent force in the life of the greatest entrepreneur of our times. As you roll out your yoga mat, get into your favorite yoga pose, and feel a gentle zephyr of peace sweep over you, perhaps you can take pause to wonder at what experiences in consciousness may lie just beyond your present reach if you also embark on yoga’s fuller, inner journey toward self-realization. Yogananda would have called those experiences “undreamed of possibilities.”

And as you get closer to realizing your true self within, you may find that you, too, are ready to make a dent in the universe.

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Meditations with Tea by Emma Lawson & beliefnet.com

Meditations with Tea by Emma Lawson & beliefnet.com

 

Don’t you miss those simpler days when you could reflect on your whole day and be sure of what you have accomplished by the end of it? We all rush somewhere today; we’re constantly worried and busy with our jobs, families and other life obligations. No one has the time for themselves anymore and everyone forgets to take things slow and relax. However, we need that “me” time in order to feel better, relieve stress and lead a healthier life. In order to achieve such a calming and meaningful lifestyle, you should engage in daily meditations with tea.

Tea-drinking customs go back for millennia and are most widely present in Eastern civilizations. India, China, Japan and many other Asian cultures consider this a ritual and it is part of their daily spiritual practice. These cultures call tea drinking a tea ceremony, which includes its ceremonial preparation and drinking with mindfulness and connecting it with daily meditation.

The best known tea ceremony is the Japanese one, called “chanoyu” and it is quite inseparable from meditation and Zen. During this mindful ceremony, matcha green tea is prepared and drunk along with the number of ancient meditative techniques. When tea was brought to Japan in the 12th century by Zen monk named Eisai Zenji, who studied in China, it was quickly adopted nationwide and it became one of the important aspects of Japanese culture. At first, Zen monks used tea as means of staying awake during meditation, but the tea ceremony quickly became meditative itself. The strong powerful aroma of matcha green tea and its calming qualities became an integral part of Zen monks’ daily lives, and even made their ways to today’s lifestyles.

Even today, tea ceremonies are performed worldwide and people do them in order to take a break during the day, restore their strength and simply forget about everything that is happening. Some people meditate with matcha tea even during the busiest hours of the day, in order to clear their heads and get a good grip on the reality. Just twenty minutes a day of this calming ceremony will help you find your inner peace and lead a better, stress-free life. Of course, there are some rules to be followed and, just like with any meditation, the beginning might be hard. However, as you progress and practice it every day, meditation with tea will become your necessary part of day.

Find a Good Tea

Basically, meditation with tea can be performed with any kind of tea, but a cup of quality tea will enhance the effect. Unflavored teas are recommended, usually because of their better quality. Also, you can use whole-leaf teas which taste better and are generally fresher; just make sure to look for the consistency in shape, color and size of the leaves. Another option is using quality matcha tea powder which has quality taste and a powerful aroma.

Boiling the Water

The only aim of this type of meditation is to pay attention to the tea only and nothing else. So, when you’re boiling the water you should do only that. Sit down, relax and watch the bubbles go from tiny frizzy ones to big jumpy ones. Enjoy every second of this and don’t let a thought enter your mind. Pay attention to your breathing, lower the heart rate and let the sounds of water set the atmosphere.

Mixing the Water with Tea

Gently take a spoon of your matcha tea and put it in your favorite cup. Slowly add a cup of boiled water onto the tea and let it sit for a minute or two. You will notice the steam wafting up and take time to look at it. The sweet, strong smells of the aroma will arise from the cup, so make sure to breathe them in easily. If you’re using tea leaves, be generous and watch them twirl in the boiling water. Clear your mind and give in.

Enjoying the Looks of the Tea

After a few minutes, gently remove the infusion and just sit with your tea for a while. This will give a chance to tea to cool a bit and to you to enjoy the aromas and colors of the brew. Take the cup and feel the ceramic in your hands. Think about the fact that someone far, far away picked the leaves and enabled you to brew this calming drink. Be thankful to that person. Expand your thoughts to other things that made this moment possible and appreciate all the people and circumstances that made this all this come true.

Drink Your Tea

Sip it slowly. Focus on the characteristics of the cup and tea itself. Pay attention to the temperature whether it is hot or cold, notice the tastes if they are earthy, floral or grassy; think about how does the tea feel in your mouth, whether it is creamy, dry, heavy or light. Direct your thoughts only to the tea and to each sip. You will notice that everything else is different around you, and you will never miss a detail.

After you have finished drinking your tea, don’t forget to enjoy the process of cleaning after yourself. This too is a part of the ceremony which will help you achieve inner peace. The aim of the tea ceremony and your path to inner peace lies in learning mindfulness and living in the now. It also includes using all of our senses and the interaction of our inner being with something from the outside world.

Everything in our environment has an impact on us, one way or another, and drinking the tea slowly, focusing on its taste, smell, color and how it enters our bodies gives us a chance to slow down the time and receive a positive impact from the outside world. Tea meditation should become a part of your daily routine and you will notice how you’re changing into a better and healthier person with each ceremony.

“If man has no tea in him, he is incapable of understanding truth and beauty.” – Japanese Proverb

Read more at http://www.beliefnet.com/wellness/meditation/meditations-with-tea.aspx?p=2#fCfQi80DC7s8Cpvs.99

Read more at http://www.beliefnet.com/wellness/meditation/meditations-with-tea.aspx#rxGXg7qDyT15xlHP.99

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Tea Connects People by Tea Master

TEA CONNECTS PEOPLE.

good tea starts from the moment it is planted and makes its journey all the way to your cup

Tea Connects People

Our philosophy is that every cup of tea is a connection between people. This philosophy extends from start to finish when it comes to a drinking a cup of tea. For us tea is sacred. It is ritual. It is art. It is spirit. We seek to manifest visibly the ritual of interdependence with every cup.

There is the obvious connection that you experience when you drink tea with a friend or acquaintance. You sit down, imbibe the warm liquid and like happy song birds tell stories of your days to one another. Tea in this way is soothing and builds companionship as well as helps create joy in the daily journey of life. To get you the best cup of tea we pay attention to other details of connection and interdependence.

We source our teas from ethical farms and plantations like the Chota Tingra Assam estate. They use organic farming and fare wage practices. This helps us insure that the tea you are drinking in our Chai is filled with the energy of contentment and happiness from the time it is planted to the time it is harvested.

Once the tea has arrived in our hands, we say prayers and mantras over the tea as well as put our own minds in the experience of meditation as we prepare it. This is why we say our tea is prepared with love and meditation. Each tea batch is prepared and brewed with the following prayer.

A Tea Prayer

“May whoever drink this tea have happiness, the causes of happiness, wealth, good health, abundance and joy in their life.”

The details of the mind while preparing tea make a difference. That is why we make sure the tea is prepared with the right mindset. If you are angry and make a meal, the meal will not taste good, it might even give you indigestion. No chai or tea is prepared by us with angry music on, or when the brewer or preparer is in a bad mood. I encourage our tea brewers and blenders to go home and come back later if they are in a bad mood. We understand that even the intention and mind frame makes a difference in the quality of your drink. That is the level of detail we are paying attention to when we craft your tea.

This is our intention for you when you share our tea with your self and others. To create a better connection between people and the world with every sip.

Enjoy.

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