Guest blogposts

GUEST BLOGPOST: How a Cup of Tea Can Be a Mirror Into Your Soul by Marcus Udsen Grandjean

Det er en (KÆMPE) stor fornøjelse for mig, at byde på bloggens allerførste gæsteindlæg (og hvilket indlæg!). Ja ikke bare det, faktisk er det også bloggens allerførste indlæg på engelsk. Det sker fordi det er den naturlige vej for mig og bloggen at gå. Verden er stor og Danmark er lille. Og med det engelske sprog håber jeg at kunne lukke endnu flere ind i mit online univers. Jeg er så taknemmelig for at du læser med herinde og jeg vil meget gerne høre hvad du synes om min beslutning. Tak for dig! 🙂 Mia-mad.dk vil løbende blive opdateret til engelsk – og indtil videre gør jeg ikke noget ved de foreudgående blogindlæg, men beholder dem på dansk.

This blogpost marks the beginning of a series of posts, written by me and by others, focusing on what we humans do, and can do, in order to “just be”. Just being is something I have found to be absolutely essential for my level of happiness – and for my health. Actually I do believe that being right here, right now, is happiness and health. This series is therefore, and first and foremost, about an aspect of sustainability that to me is the most important one. That is, our ability to create and sustain a lifestyle, that makes space for us to be happy and feel healthy.

So please give a warm welcome to my very first guest, and my new friend, Marcus Udsen Grandjean. Marcus is a cool, clever, generous, and kind guy, who is occupied with the connection between movement and the mind. He is also a talented, meticulous, and passionate teacher and trainer, and to him movement is not just a physical experience. When I first met him some weeks ago, he shared a personal story that really resonated with me, and a story that had such a huge impact on me that it inspired me to start this new blogseries. It was a story about being a child of an alcoholic parent and the traumas it had given him. He shared about the actions that he had taken to move himself away from feeling angry a lot of his time. How he managed to soften his mind, and to find some hours of calmness, of enjoyably “just being”. I saw, and see, myself in Marcus, as my story is a lot like his – but off course, totally different too. For many years I spend a lot of my time feeling sad. Recognizing that I’m not that different from others really helps me. And I do believe that recognizing just how similar we are, is key to our collective health and happiness.

And now, the words are Marcus’:

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I have spent a lot of time trying to understand the body, the mind, what’s healthy and what’s not. It all started a long time ago when I first got involved in parkour and the mind-set it brought along. It showed me how my body could function and what potential I had as a human, both physically and mentally. This discovery brought me on a search, for everything really, and it brought me far. And therefore, about nine years ago I went on a health craze. I sought out everything “natural” in the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle that would make me live up to my potential. Not knowing at the time that within that pursuit I would find something much more profound and interesting.

I was first introduced to the world of tea through a colleague. I was drawn by the proclaimed health benefits, so we went to a teahouse and had a bowl of Japanese matcha, a powdered and whisked tea. Immediately I was drawn in to the dedication and respect that surrounded the brewing method of this tea, the finesse and the awareness was something that I knew I could use in my daily life. You see, a bowl of matcha is like a handcraft; it is a skill that it requires a lot of practice to acquire.

In the meantime I (coincidently) spend my time reading about and gaining knowledge on zen-buddhism and taoism. What I should find was a deep relationship between the way of tea and zen and taoism – Chadao. So I started digging, through books and cups – I boiled water and steeped tea, as a hobby, but it also became my meditation. Because this is what I learned a long the way, that in tea there is meditation. Tea is so extremely simple, it is dried up tealeaves put in a pot and soaked with steaming water. What ever you pour out from that pot would be the beverage that we refer to as tea. That beverage is nothing more than the result of a process. The process on the other hand, that my friend, is everything. The process is a meeting between you and nature.  

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Often we seek to use a practice as a tool to gain. Tea practice could be a tool to get a tasty, warm cup of tea – a treat for the mouth. But as a chajin (a person who practices the way of tea), there is no reason to judge or evaluate the tea. The outcome is but a result of that exact situation, of your actions and of the quality of the leaves. When the mind is fettered our actions becomes lazy and inattentive. This will obviously influence the tea we are making. But just as in meditation, this is the point exactly, to let it be as it is. We do not meditate to overcome or fight ourselves. We meditate to let be, accept and understand.

Just like we try to do with tea. We boil the water, maybe too long, put too few leaves in the pot, and pour over the water with too much force. All of this will affect the taste and the mouthfeel of the tea. But it is not bad; it is never bad – because it is unchangeable.

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So without this judging mind – how do we ever then, steep a tasty cup of tea? It is important to note, that judgement and understanding is not the same. We are very much aware of how the tea tastes and feels, but we don’t mind it. If a tea is lacking aftertaste, considering its potential, then we understand the nature of the tea and what it can also be.  Knowing that a tea can taste different if brewed different is not judgement, it is understanding. The cup of tea will never become perfect anyway, and the way we perceive it differs from moment to moment. So don’t worry about the taste of the tea. If a tea is good, it is steeped with a sincere mind. Maybe that mind is fettered and caught up, but it does not matter, as long as it is sincere. The mind is let be, and is steeping the tea. 

Tea has become a huge part of my life, not because it is healthy or addictive, but because it involves a process that reminds me of meditation, a process that reminds me of the relationship I have to the planet I live on. I practice tea to cultivate a mind that is calm.

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I’ve spent many hours with anger in my life. I’ve spent many hours contemplating on my existence, too many one might say. My mind had been entangled in itself for a long time, and suddenly I found a path that lead to a few calm hours. I am not here to tell you that my life has been tough, because we have all been there. A life leaves its marks, and they scar you and me the same. What I found in tea was a way of practicing how a unified and serene mind would work in reality. How did it feel to actually meditate while doing? How could I transfer this practice in to other parts of my life, and was that even realistic?

Most of you might think that it all sounds a little too good to be true, or maybe just like a little too much – I mean how can water and leaves do all of this? And really it is not about the tea; it is about the process of tea. For me it has been transferred in to a lot of actions – cooking for example. There are plenty of opportunities to cultivate a sincere and calm mind, all we have to do is understand. And a tea practice is a beautiful place to start; every cup of tea can be a mirror into your soul.

Waw, right? I really enjoyed getting some more insight into Marcus’ world of tea and his practice and process with tea. I hope that you too enjoyed this first, of hopefully many guest blogposts. If you know that you have something that you would want to share, please feel free to contact me using this address miamaddk@gmail.com

Namaste!

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