American Reading Ceremony

Chapter 81 of the book Self-Help Stuff That Works

by Adam Khan:

HAVE YOU EVER WATCHED a Japanese Tea Ceremony? It's really nothing special except for one thing. The person performing the ceremony is paying attention. But that one thing makes it extraordinary for both the observers and the performer herself.

Something simple takes place. Someone makes tea and then someone drinks it. But the spirit in which it is done makes the difference. Everybody present is paying attention and not doing anything else. The person making the tea moves deliberately, unhurried, trying to make each movement perfect.

There's nothing special about tea. Anyone can do the same thing doing just about anything. You can have an American Lunch Ceremony - eat your lunch deliberately, paying attention to what you're doing, unhurried, trying to make each movement in complete awareness.

Try it sometimes when you feel stressed. You can even do it while you work (American Work Ceremony). If you have no immediate deadline, do your work for ten minutes carefully, with full attention on every move, slowly and deliberately. It's a nice little change of pace, if nothing else. But usually there is something else, and that's why the Japanese Zen Masters consider the Tea Ceremony as a high art and a worthy practice.

The deliberate movement clarifies your mind and sometimes puts you in a state of tranquility. It often makes you aware that this moment is all there is and all that needs to be. It's hard to describe, but you don't need a description. Try it and experience it for yourself. It's nothing mystical. If anything, it is a more down-to-earth experience than our usual hustle and bustle because all you're doing is paying attention to what you're doing. Rather than thinking about yesterday's golf game or tonight's dinner, rather than worrying about something that might happen tomorrow or fuming about what happened this morning, rather than wishing you were somewhere else or hoping things change in your future, you're just here, now, doing what you're doing. It is surprising how seldom we do that.

You can do it anywhere, any time. Try it right now while you're reading. Notice your posture, the sounds in the room, the smells, without trying to change anything. Notice your feelings - your emotional tone, the sensations in your stomach, the feeling of your hands and your forehead... notice the page, the feel of your eyes as they move along the line, the voice in your head saying these words. Just notice.

Thank you for participating with me in this American Reading Ceremony.

Slow down your movements once in awhile and pay attention.

Would you like to turn your job into a spiritual discipline? Check out:
Getting Paid to Meditate

Do you feel overwhelmed with things to do? Do you constantly feel that you don't have enough time? Check out:
Having the Time

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, November 30). American Reading Ceremony, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 24 from

Last Updated: March 31, 2016

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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