By now it’s official (irreversible) – I have a full-on love affair with tea. There is probably nothing quite as glorious as a full, fresh pot of tea waiting to be enjoyed, maybe with a book to go with it. However, recently I have noticed a worrying trend (both in the UK and the US), which is that certain places pride themselves on making the “perfect” cup. This translates as letting your tea steep for a set amount of time (timed on a timer) and then giving you only the liquid so it can’t get any stronger.
The problem with this is that most experienced tea-drinkers like their tea at different strengths. It’s just down to individual taste.
Another problem is that you remove all the beautiful variation of enjoying the tea at different stages of taste and colour. One of my favourite memories of Beijing was going for tea ceremonies and spending time enjoying the different fragrances and tastes of each cup, getting a very different experience with every subsequent pour from the pot.
And then there’s always the joy of feeling really sleepy/ unmotivated and waiting till your tea has the consistency of jam to really get you going. OK maybe not jam.. but definitely up to Northern/ industrial strength!
Now, to reach only slightly awkwardly for a metaphor, self-development is a bit like this too. New realisations, behaviours or recently-discovered parts of ourselves take time to percolate through our system and sink in. Allowing the time and space to let this happen organically means we don’t risk missing out on fully-embracing or integrating an important part of our experience. I have never seen a client or myself trying to rush this bit without skipping over or missing something and just having to circle back later. There’s something genuinely kind about giving yourself the time and space you need without any expectation of the outcome. It leaves room for subtlety and nuance and removes any self-inflicted pressure from notions we may have about being on a particular schedule or moving forward in a specific way.
… Real exploration is open-ended…
So, please enjoy your tea – don’t muzzle it. And maybe try to leave pauses where there should be pauses, honouring yourself with a spacious attitude of self-kindness.
And now I get to finish my little pot of Yunnan green tea, no timer in sight 😉