In her new book, Sereni-Tea: Sipping Self Success, T Ching contributor Dharlene Marie Fahl weaves together two subjects that are clearly meant for each other – the quest for self love and the therapeutic benefits of tea. Indeed, in her Introduction, Dharlene explains that her goal in what is the first in a series of three books she calls The Tea Trilogy is “to introduce tea drinkers to a spiritual practice that includes their beloved beverage” and “to acquaint the spiritual seeker with the ancient rituals and traditions of taking tea.” The practice of mindfully brewing and sipping tea facilitates the journey of healing and self-discovery that is necessary to achieve self success, which is only possible through self love.
Interspersed with her trademark tea poems, the book’s 11 chapters first describe tea’s royal beginnings in China through its role in the American Revolution and beyond. They then go on to explain that chi – the life force – is best harnessed by setting aside quiet moments during the day in which to be present in the moment. What better way to take time out from our frenetic world than to recharge ourselves emotionally and physically by enjoying a cup of tea? Dharlene minces no words when she says, “Fifteen mindful moments with a cup of tea can and will change your life.”
In the chapter on “choosing to choose,” Dharlene reminds the reader that life’s daily trials and tribulations can often blind us to the infinite possibilities that are available to us. For me, one of the most resonant lines in the book is found in this chapter: “Every decision we have ever made in life was truly based on one thing – how much we loved ourselves at the time of making that choice.” That is clearly true in my life and undoubtedly each of you can recall your own examples of this.
Dharlene devotes Chapter 4 and 5 to a discussion of the importance of prayer and meditation as part of our daily routine. The distinction between the two is stated simply: “prayer is talking to God and meditation is listening to God.” Both enable us to nurture and strengthen our spirit. And both can be incorporated into our lives by taking time with a cup of tea.
In “Choosing Tea for the Body,” the focus is once again squarely on tea and its healing properties:
“As the tea leaves unfurl and release their mysteries to a vessel of water, possibly in those quiet moments, life’s secrets may just reveal themselves. In these precious moments of stillness, when all fear and worry dissolve, if only temporarily, we give ourselves the gift of reconnecting with something of immense power. Aligned with this power, we may experience clarity of mind, a body relieved of tension, a soul revisited and a heart
open to love.”
I particularly enjoyed the chapter on choosing love for the heart because it made me aware of the multitude of expressions that involve the heart. When we put our heart into something, the chances are great that we will succeed. But if our effort is half-hearted, it is much less likely success will be ours.
The paragraph that best captures the melding of tea and self success is in Chapter 9 (The Agony of the Leaves):
“Are we ourselves not unlike the tea leaf, with our gifts and mysteries locked tightly within us? And like the leaves, do we not need something that unlocks us and opens us to our true potential?”
Thankfully, Sereni-Tea offers the tea lover even more reasons to celebrate the wonders of this ancient brew.