It's early on a summer's morning and I'm sitting out back with my first cup of tea. The air is cool, my tea is hot and bracing, and the birds are outdoing themselves with delight over the sun's arrival. An old friend, The List of Things to Do, is rather large today and persistent, too, like a scruffy sheep dog that wants to be walked and is nagging for attention by consistently and methodically placing one of its saucer-sized paws in my lap.
But I'm strong (who is in charge here?) and I resist. I'm on my first cup of tea and my rule is that there's no planning, scheming, list making or worrying while drinking my first cup. This is my meandering, creative, daydreamy time, when I can indulge in crazy thoughts and ideas with no self-censoring. Just let it all unravel and follow wherever it wants to go.
It's important to build into our lives time to just be, to see what happens when we pause, sit down, and loosen our preoccupations with life's pains and gains. All day long, the request of our lives is activity. We must do and think and plan. We need to go here and there, and do this and that, always on the move. At night we fall into bed and, if we're lucky and are able to sleep, we sink into an oblivion spiked occasionally by half-remembered dreams.
Since our busy schedules rarely offer us an opportunity to stop and be still, it's helpful to consciously build it in. For me, mornings are the perfect time because my day and my mind haven't quite powered up yet and I don't need to put too much effort into staying present (sheep dogs aside). Thanks to a mild addiction to caffeine, my morning routine is fairly consistent and always begins with a cup of black tea, so the opportunity is naturally built in.
While it's similar to classic meditation, this first-cup-of-tea practice is less restrictive. Presence is requested, but thoughts and thinking are a less managed and a little more indulged. The only rule is no planning or thinking about the day, no obsessing with obligations or opinions. Just sitting quietly, sipping tea, and watching what appears on the wide screen of my mind. It's enormously fascinating to see what shows up. I hope you'll try it.
(Image: Dana Velden)