Mindful Living

Tea Meditation – Thich Nhat Hanh

November 7, 2017
Tea Meditation – Thich Nhat Hanh

When I started documenting my experience with tea, a name that stood out with respect to mindful tea drinking was Thich Nhat Hanh. There is a heart and soul to his words. What a supreme state of peace and calm would he have acquired to weave such thought provoking words simply looking down at his cup of tea. He calls it ‘tea meditation’.

Today I am focusing on this particular line from a podcast that I had listened to of his; ‘Smile to the cloud in your tea’.

Thich Nhat Hanh asks “When you look into your tea what do you see?” He goes on to say that he sees a cloud. He sees a cloud floating in his tea. “Yesterday the cloud was up in the sky. But today it has become the tea in my cup.”

What I infer from this is that the cloud signifies all the worldly struggle, pain, fear, insecurity, loneliness and negativity that loom over you like a dark cloud. The burden that weighs you down and stands as an obstacle between where you are and where you want to be.

He says “When you look up at the blue sky you don’t see the cloud anymore and you might say, “O my cloud has died.” In fact, it has not died. It has become the tea in your cup. So when I look mindfully into my cup of tea, I see my cloud. And when I drink my tea, I drink my cloud.”

One of the definitions of mindfulness is as follows.

– A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

As I listened to his words I couldn’t help but wonder how the cloud above him rested in his teacup? To understand this line means to understand the journey of the cloud.

Thich Nhat Hanh states that at least 70% of us (our being) is the cloud. If you take the cloud out of you, there is no ‘you’ left. And therefore he thinks the cloud is a good subject of meditation.

The journey of the cloud.

In his words, “A cloud can never die. The cloud becomes rain. The rain becomes the creek on a mountain. The creek flows down and becomes the river. The river joins the sea. The heat generated from the sun helps the water in the ocean evaporate and become the cloud again.”

Tea Meditation – Thich Nhat Hanh

Image source: http://augustwren.blogspot.ae/2014/05/meditation-and-other-things.html?spref=pi

Now that’s a lot to take in. So my understanding is that our entire being is intricately made up of experiences. The good and the bad. There is this particular scene from the sitcom Greys Anatomy where Dr. Miranda Bailey in a moment of emotion states that she is busy holding herself together with tape and glue.

Simple words which reminded me that if a piece falls out of place you lose your rhythm and balance.

I think now would be a good time to insert this beautiful quote.

“We have calcium in our bones, iron in our veins, carbon in our souls, and nitrogen in our brains. 93 percent stardust, with souls made of flames, we are all just stars that have people names.” -(93 Percent Stardust | Nikita Gill)

He concludes with these words, “The cloud becomes one with me. So smile to the cloud in your tea. Smile to the cloud in your body.”

I hope to take from these words and one day be able to look at the cloud in my tea and know that the cloud is really my strength. The cloud is what teaches me to be a grounded person. The cloud is not my enemy but a part of me.

Note: This is my interpretation of his words. I am sure the same words would mean a million different things to somebody else. What does it mean to you?


  • Reply Jija Jose November 8, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    That was a very interesting read Sherin. I have been quite hooked on to the topic of mindfulness lately. Do let me know if you came across any interesting books 🙂

    • Reply PARDESI TROTTER November 9, 2017 at 3:20 pm

      Hi Jija! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I’ll definitely post other content on the topic that I may come across. 🙂

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