Life Lessons from Tea Ceremony: Ichigo Ichie

I recently began taking tea ceremony classes on the weekends. I have always been obsessed with the Japanese arts and tea ceremony struck me as something special from the beginning. It is a form of meditation and ritual. The movements are graceful and flowing. Every little detail is done with intention. Philosophically, there is so much in tea ceremony that can be applied to life.

Over the next few months as I take these classes I plan to write about one special lesson that I take away from each class. I wish I could share everything here but that would turn into a book of its own.

Ichigo Ichie

I have always loved this phrase Ichigo Ichie. It translates to “one opportunity, one encounter”. It is also translated as “for this time only,” “never again,” or “one chance in a lifetime.” The underlying principle is that we have this moment – it will never be the same again. This term is commonly associated with tea ceremony as the focus of the host is to make the guest’s encounter memorable and unique. Each moment is special and the ceremony is an experience to be treasured. Each guest is treated with the utmost respect and every action performed by the host, is to make the guests experience beautiful and as pleasant as possible.
Outside of the tea room, the concept of Ichigo Ichie can be applied throughout life in the practice of mindfulness throughout the day. Here’s how:
  • Every morning upon waking, be grateful. Not just for what you have but for who you are at that moment. You will never experience that morning, that day, life, work, your loved ones, in that exact same way again. Savor who you are and your experiences.
  • Throughout the day, pause and think about little things. If you receive good news, be mindful and enjoy it. This exact experience will only happen once. If it’s bad new, be aware and let it pass. All moments are fleeting.
  • When eating, realize that you will never enjoy that meal in the exact same way again. Even if you eat the same thing, you and your circumstances will be different, your perception will be different. Be there and focus on that moment.
Expect more to come from my tea classes over the next few months. If you ever can attend a tea ceremony, I highly suggest it. Most cities will have some form of formal tea school which usually hold tea ceremonies on a regular basis as a form of practice and education. It's worth googling and seeing what's close to you.  I always find it to be life changing. The art of tea encourages mindfulness and intention - two very beautiful things.
Warm wishes,
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