I like skateboarding, and I do it with my kids on a sunny Sunday afternoon. It’s great. It’s good to keep your body in shape. It’s good to keep moving, break a sweat, keep some activity going, stay young, stay happy, stay fun, have fun with the kids. It is just so very important to keep the body active. And it doesn’t matter whether you skateboard, or go for a run, or practice martial arts. Simply to stay active is of utmost importance for your health and wellbeing.
[Watch the video which this article is a transcription of]
I don’t think that because this website is essentially a tea store, that I shouldn’t talk about the other things that affect my life and that are also very important to me. I actually think that everything that I do in my life is related to tea.
My lifestyle has been so involved and so impressed by tea that everything that I do in itself is already influenced by what I’ve come to learn through interacting with tea and through doing tea ceremony.
So even skateboarding; even playing out in the park with the kids is something that to me is part of a lifestyle that is influenced by tea. So very often on social media channels – on Instagram especially, on YouTube you see it as well – you see single oriented content.
You’ll see people making content about just one thing and it doesn’t show the full picture. I feel, from what I’ve been doing the past years, that I’ve been putting myself in kimono and I’ve been showing what I’ve been doing in relation to tea and tea ceremony. But when people talk to me, it’s, Oh, it’s the tea guy!
That’s great that you know me as the tea guy, but isn’t it so much nicer to have a personal touch so that you get to know more about who I really am, what I do in my life, what inspires me to do the things I do?
A tea life
As I said, for me, basically living life is tea itself. And over the past 14 years I’ve learned so much through tea. I’ve interacted with so many traditional aspects of Japanese culture, of tea culture, and basically what I’ve come to see is that everything that I now do in my life is influenced or inspired by tea ceremony, by tea, by the connection to nature; by all the things that I’m talking about and that I reflect through the tea that I select, and through the kind of tea ceremony that I do.
Approaches to tea ceremony
You can approach tea ceremony in many different ways. You can approach it from a scholarly perspective where you use tea ceremony as a gateway into learning more about history and culture. You can also use tea ceremony from a collector’s perspective where you look for special utensils and grow your collection and show off the collection that you have. In the past people actually did this to amass wealth and to show how powerful they were.
So that’s, that’s one way that you can use tea as. Tea ceremony has many uses. And for me, one of the uses is really to access its spiritual side. As everyone knows, there’s a strong connection between zen and tea ceremony. Tea ceremony is very zen inspired. For me that connection to this spiritual angle, this more practice of mindfulness angle, of tea ceremony is what inspires me most.
Mindfulness through tea
When I’m in a tea ceremony setting and I’m executing a service of tea, I’m absolutely focused in the moment. There’s nothing else going on. And that type of mindset – when you’re doing something as important as serving a bowl of tea, which is at the center of the tea ceremony – just has to seep through in every other aspect of life.
Even when I’m skateboarding; even if I’m walking out; when I’m playing with my kids, when I do some other work, I try to be absolutely centered and mindful of what I’m doing. You might say that that is just zen. But it’s just as much tea ceremony as it is zen to me. And it’s through tea ceremony really, that I’ve come to appreciate this aspect much more.
Minimalism and tea
If I want to put it really short, to me, really, “tea is a mindful approach to being alive”. To being alive itself. And how does that reflect in the many aspects of life? Well, things like skateboarding, things like making this video; for tea ceremony, you require utensils, you require tools. What we do in tea ceremony is, we look for tools that have been passed on since generations. Tools that are valuable and which we care for.
Each time after use, you put it in a wrapping cloth, put it in a safe wooden box, and then put that box again in another cardboard box to make sure that that utensil does not get damaged, and is in the best shape to use when you want to use it. You choose utensils that are old and valuable.
They might cost a little bit more, but it’s OK to spend a bit more on a utensil That will fulfill its purpose and will do that for eternity. This is a very important lesson that I have come to learn from tea ceremony.
We live in such a consumer oriented, wasteful culture. We’d rather spend $1 on a t-shirt and throw it away tomorrow and buy another one, than to spend $10 on a t-shirt that we can wear for 2, 3, 4, or five years.
To me that that’s just unimaginable! How have we become so wasteful?
Through tea ceremony, I have learned that I’d rather spend a bit more on something that is going to fulfill its purpose, make my life so much happier and is going to last for a lifetime. Because if you make the calculation: if you buy something now, if you spend $1~2 on it, but you have to replace it every week, that will turn in a tremendous cost over time. And it’s not only the cost of having to spend that dollar every week! It’s also the cost of having to throw that away, of recycling that and putting that burden on society and nature.
So in the long run, it’s much more beneficial to buy one thing and use it for a long period of time and have a lot of pleasure from it. I really that we have lost connection with valuing essential things, and that we’ve just become so used to the fact that everything is disposable and replaceable.
Make educated choices
Personally, I always try to look for things that I can use for a long time. When I buy a tripod for example, I do research on which tripod I should buy. I don’t just buy one and then replace it with another one because it was not kind of the thing that I wanted. No! I try to look for something that I can use for years. And that’s something I’ve learned through tea ceremony.
By working with good implements, and by learning how to care for those implements in tea ceremony, I learned that I wanted to implement the same kind of mindfulness in my life in general. It is great to have the peace of mind and the knowledge that I have things that are functional and that will stay with me for a long time. And that I only have the things that I need, and not more!
What I want you to do is to reestablish this connection. I’d like to challenge you to look for something in your house and see if there’s anything that you’re maybe using since you were born, or that you’re maybe using for a very long time now. Perhaps even something that you’ve inherited from your grandmother and that you are now using as the the next generation.
Look for something that has been with you for a long time, that you’re using on a daily basis, and that you’ll likely be using for the rest of your life. It could be a cooking pot, it could be a shelf of some kind. Take a look at it and feel what it does to you to remind yourself that this is something that is so valuable and that has not only made your life, but the life of others also so much more valuable.
Let us know in the comments what that one item is that is so precious to you, and that you’ve now regained that connection with.
Stays sporty, stay fit.