For Valentine’s Day A Ceremony for Lovers
Feb 04, 2013 11:08PM
By Diana Daffner
The Japanese Tea Ceremony exemplifies the belief that even an ordinary act of daily life, when performed with mindfulness, can lead to enlightenment. The formal ritual directs the hearts and minds of the practitioners toward peace and tranquility. A less formal Vietnamese Tea Ceremony, introduced by Thich Nhat Hanh, emphasizes achieving clear, emotional presence through quiet group ritual.
The Tea Ceremony for Lovers distills these two practices into an easy, intimate experience for couples. Intimacy (“in-to-me-see”) seeks engagement with another, at a deep level of direct and immediate honesty. The Tea Ceremony for Lovers is a simple yet powerful way to awaken the intimate experience.
Drinking tea, you slow down, centering and grounding into the here and now. You find yourselves alone together, interested in and engaged with each other. Involved in the ordinary task of drinking tea, you share intimate and extraordinary moments.
Any tea will do, or a glass of wine or even hot chocolate. Select a single cup or mug to share.
Prepare a plate of cookies, fruit or cheese. Arouse erotic intention with passion fruit or peeled grapes.
Create sacred space. Incense or aromatherapy oils add romantic scent. Try rose or ylang ylang. Soft, quiet music sets the mood.
Sit facing one another, on cushions, with a space between you for the tea. Or on chairs, with a small table between you or to the side.
Place the pot of tea, the single mug and the food on a tray with a simple flower or sacred decoration.
The Ceremony Has 3 Parts
Part 1: Silence
Pour the first cup of tea. Bring your palms together in front of your heart (prayer position) and bow, signifying your offering of the cup to your beloved. Your beloved bows in return, both of you maintaining eye contact. During the entire ceremony, you take turns offering tea to one another. This is always accompanied by a mutual bow.
In silence, and with a smile, your beloved takes the tea cup. For the first three rounds of this ritual, no food is taken, only tea. As the one without the tea, honor your beloved with silent attention. Stay alert to your beloved’s presence, their holding of the cup, drinking the tea.
While your beloved drinks, he or she focuses attention on the ceremony by paying attention to the cup, the tea, and to your presence. Each of you notices your breathing, acknowledging the breath as it comes in, and as it leaves. Concentrating on breath helps you to settle into the ceremony, to relax into the moment. Similarly, it is helpful to bring your awareness to the pillow or chair supporting you.
When your beloved is ready, they replace the cup on the table, and bow, offering the tea to you. You bow, accepting the tea. It is your turn to take the tea, in silence, with a smile.
No food is eaten during these first three silent rounds. When you are ready, replace the cup, and bowing, offer it back to your beloved.
The first three rounds of the ceremony are in silence. Each of you sits quietly, observing, loving, breathing. The hectic pace of life is brought to a halt. Love is exposed. Being in silence with one another may be a new experience. Notice what comes up, even any discomfort you may feel. Remind yourself that the intent of this ceremony is to celebrate your relationship. Really see your beloved, involve yourself with his/her presence. Accept them fully, just as they are. Accept yourself.
Part 2: Observation and Admiration
After three rounds of silence, you enter the appreciation phase. Instead of silence, the person holding the tea now speaks. What may be talked about is limited to what is in the ceremony itself: the tea, the teapot, the cup, the flowers or any art objects in the area, and, most importantly, the other person.
Only the person with the tea may speak, and only in the present tense. Use statements of observation and appreciation. “This is a delicious mint tea.” “The cup is beautiful.” Straightforward remarks settle you into your surroundings. “I hold this teacup.” “I hear the music.”
You may acknowledge and admire each other’s physical presence. “Your hair is shiny.” “Your eyes are so blue.” Use sincere statements that say, “I see you.” The person without tea sits in silent attention. Listening, accepting, breathing. The person with tea compliments, appreciates, speaks words of admiration. They may also now select from the food plate. Only the person with the tea may eat. While your beloved drinks tea, speaks, and nibbles on food, you remain in silent attention, watching, listening, adoring.
When ready, they return the cup to the tray, offering it with a bow, which you return. When you are ready, take the cup and become the speaker.
Complimenting your surroundings and your beloved focuses you more fully into the present moment, where intimacy can take place. Your senses become attuned to a subtle level of communication that lies below the words.
Part 3: Speaking from the Heart
Now, you may speak what is in your heart, what you are, in this moment, feeling. Your beloved listens with reverent attention, silently encouraging you to open your heart.
Only the person with the cup may speak, drink, or eat. As your beloved completes their turn, they place the cup again between you, bowing, again changing roles.
You may explore any issue that rises from your heart. Your beloved listens, with no comment, no judgment, no response. Speaking aloud your love intensifies that love. Speaking aloud your fears diminishes those fears. Knowing that you are being heard, being listened to, by your beloved, empowers you to express your truth. Together you open to a deeper love, an experience of oneness, harmony and bliss. The energy between you becomes more alive, your connection more heartfelt.
After three rounds of speaking from the heart, the ceremony may feel complete. If so, when your beloved offers you the tea, bowing, you return the bow but do not take the cup. Instead, after a moment, without taking the cup, you bow again, offering the untouched cup back to them.
Your beloved has the opportunity to take the cup for another turn, or to signify completion by bowing again, without taking the cup. Bowing is a heart-to-heart salutation of presence and gratitude, a most meaningful gift on Valentine’s Day.
Diana Daffner is the author of Tantric Sex for Busy Couples: How to Deepen Your Passion in Just Ten Minutes a Day. She and her husband Richard Daffner lead Intimacy Retreats for couples. These romantic vacation/workshops offer training in Tantra Tai Chi and conscious loving practices to deepen emotional closeness, enhance physical intimacy, and awaken spiritual connection. The complete Tea Ceremony for Lovers is available on Kindle and as an audio file. For more information or a free brochure, visit IntimacyRetreats.com or call 941-349-6804. See ad page 44.