When my friend Laura told me I had experienced something called spiritual shaming, I paused, processed, and then we both laughed out loud over our tea.
Really? That’s a thing here in LA?
Yeah, I guess that’s par for the course.
So, let me back into this story, and also one of the reasons I decided to revise my relationship with tea after this experience, and think about serving community differently.
I learned of an ancient practice in China, Japan and places around the world called Tea Ceremonies. There were a few places around LA honoring the practice, and I was excited to sit in on this ancient tradition, and tap into a community of like minded women.
I was so new on my personal tea journey. I started with single plastic packets of “Country Peach Passion,” and was now moving to an ancient ritualistic practice.
Talk about upping my tea game!
I signed up online for my first official tea ceremony, nervously asked a friend what to wear and showed up to the most beautiful space, which will remain anonymous here.
There were about 10 of us gathered in a small room, and we each took our places on round white cushions in a semicircle. Shoes were left outside, and it was absolute silence in the tea space. The individual serving tea gestured for us to sit, so we sat obediently and watched with curiosity as the ritual began.
It was beautiful and breathtaking.
The cleaning of the teaware in front of the guests, which is part of the tradition, the aroma of incense, the quiet yet methodical movements as the tea was steeped and prepared. For the next 60 minutes, tea was served to each of us in silence, cup by cup.
Reach out. Receive. Sip. And return for the next cup.
I peered around the room, taking the lead from others and attempting to ‘drop in’ to some form of meditation. Unfortunately, my mind remained busy the full hour with endless questions about the ritual, along with distractions of looming emails and the work that was waiting for me the moment I slipped back into my shoes.
At the end of the hour, as I was about to pee my pants, we drank our final cup and sat in silence for several minutes together.
As a closing gesture, the facilitator invited questions or comments about the experience.
One by one, each person in the room shared magical feedback about the deep meditation and sensations that seemed to be from another cosmic universe.
Wait. I hadn’t experienced any of that. As my turn quickly approached I got very nervous.
If I was being honest, I’d have to say that while I enjoyed it, I was still very distracted with all of my intruding thoughts and looming work emails taunting me. My experience felt much like a choo choo train jerking me awkwardly back and forth between two worlds.
A world I desperately wanted to be in, and the reality of the world waiting for me that I couldn’t deny.
I also considered omitting the truth and asking to be skipped, but that seemed rude and I thought, come on, really? I can’t be the only person in the room who struggles to drop into a deep meditative state, and it’s important to be honest.
So I was.
The facilitator lit me up like a Christmas tree in front of everyone.
They stated that I needed to clear those thoughts, and reminded me that I could never come from a place of serving others if I was too busy doing tasks in my head.
Well no shit, that was the whole point of me being here, right?
I’m putting myself in a vulnerable and unfamiliar situation, and attempting to learn a new practice with a group of strangers. I don’t remember exactly what was said, I just remember the facilitator went on and on, embarrassing me in front of the full group.
I’m pretty resilient, and it’s silly in hindsight, but I definitely remember thinking, well, this isn’t for me. I also didn’t appreciate being thrown under the spiritual bus in a group setting.
An alternative approach? How about gently pulling me aside after class and inviting me back for more sessions, letting me know that with practice and dedication I may experience something different and more fulfilling. You would have gotten my money that way, I’ll tell you that!
But instead, I didn’t return to tea ceremony again. I think I went back to my country peach packets for awhile, but my relationship with tea did continue to evolve in the most beautiful and unexpected way in the days that followed.
I began to experiment with looseleaf teas, starting with ginger root. One simple root or herb steeped with hot water can pack a lot of health benefits, and it’s an easy and inexpensive place to start.
I kept getting pulled back to the same question:
“How can I create an experience that’s more inclusive for people like me who struggle to drop into a deep state of meditation, but still want to enjoy tea and connect to a community of like minded women?
– Deep thoughts, by Stacie…
I also didn’t want to invite my friends or community to sit for an hour together in silence, because to me that was a missed opportunity.
If I was curating something, I wanted to talk, learn, listen, exchange, reflect, grow and support one another, and make the most of an hour together!
So, there you have it. I’m forever grateful for my spiritual shaming experience because as a result, “Wellness for Waterwomen” Tea Experiences were born.
I am very careful not to call these tea ceremonies. The sessions I host are experiences. I have deep respect for the cultures and people who have practiced tea ceremony for hundreds, even thousands of years.
What can you expect if you attend a Wellness for Waterwomen Tea Experience? Well, historically I served tea out of my 1985 West Vanagon, but with COVID, that’s on hold for a bit, so for now virtually you can expect…
- An all inclusive community of waterpeople, regardless of meditation background, status, color, age or anything else that puts us in a stupid box.
- A judgement free space for sharing ideas, inspiration, hardships and support. An invitation to move through life and experiences together, the good bad and the ugly.
- An opportunity to learn ‘what’s in your cup.’ A quick dose of plant medicine 101 and getting more deeply connected to what you are sipping, and how those specific plants, herbs or roots can provide health benefits.
- A like minded group of women who drive their bus with curiosity and kindness.
I do still practice tea meditation in my own personal space. For me, that means sitting in silence for about 10-15 minutes early in the morning; sitting, sipping and just letting thoughts pass me by. Yes, I have thoughts!
On Thursday, January 28th, 2021 I’m hosting a candlelight tea experience at 7pm over Zoom. I know it’s not the same as being in person, but until it’s safe again to gather with my van, it’s the next best thing.
You can RSVP here:
This experience is unique because I’ve decided to mail each attendee one of my personal blends in advance of our tea sit, so we can all sit and sip on the same herbs together!
Sign up by Friday, January 22nd in order to receive tea on time!
And if you want to join but are overseas and can bring your own tea (since the surprise package won’t arrive on time) here is a separate invite for you.
Please share this invite with anyone else who may be interested in joining our Wellness for Waterwomen community, it’s also a full moon so will be even more special! Also, if a community sit isn’t really your thing but you want to try my tea, you can check it out here!
Thanks as always for reading my stories, it means a great deal to me and please leave a comment below if you can relate to this spiritual shaming experience, or have any comments or questions to share.