Grace of Tea
Grace of Tea
I discovered the beauty of tea from my grandmother and my mother.
Each morning as I was growing up I watched the morning ritual of pouring tea.
It was a typical tradition : boil the water, grab the tea bag and put it in the mug, pour the water and sit. They would sip and sit and sip and sit.
Sometimes my grandmother would see the birds out of the window and make a comment. Sometimes my mother would look out into the distance and smile.
Words were not often spoken. Nothing seemed to be happening.
In reflection, however, I witnessed a routine each morning that I have come to know as their own version of contemplative meditation.
Meditation can take many forms. And one of my favorite paths of meditation is found in an ancient practice called the Tea Ceremony.
The essence of the Tea Ceremony is to be fully present to your Self and to the process of preparation, pouring and sharing tea. It is with an open-heart and mindful attention that we serve for the benefit of ourselves and of others.
It is a kind of meditation in action. And it is a way to bring attention and intention into your daily routine and make it a shared experience, as well as a solo endeavor.
One of the most delightful things about a Tea Ceremony is that it can be created for your Self or with others and so, the meditation becomes a process of expansion and spaciousness. A shared experience for guest and host.
Each moment is unique and transient. There is only one moment – this moment. It will never occur again in this way.
Whether you are preparing tea for yourself or for others, it is an opportunity to celebrate the moment and care for yourself and others.
See the magic in what is ordinary.
This magic is always available to us when we slow down, pay attention to our ordinary experience and allow ourselves to simply be.
Global Tea Hut
To bring extra joy to my personal tea ceremony, each month I receive a beautiful package of tea, a gift and a magazine about tea from the Global Tea Hut, a tea community in Taiwan, China.
This month's gift was about honoring the Year of the Sheep and it's lessons on abundance. And in the spirit of sharing, I share this process with You.
I always look forward to this subscription ~ more than any other mail I receive each month. The magazine is incredibly thoughtful and educational and insightful.
The gifts each month are surprisingly generous and the tea is amazing.
You can subscribe, too, and be a part of the community that serves others so kindly.
In the meantime, whether you are a tea or coffee drinker, please remember to sit, breathe and be still.
Want to learn more about tea + meditation, check out mydailyom.com.
History of the Handwritten Note
I am a BIG fan of the handwritten note and still have many analogue tendencies that are revealing themselves in 2015 as being quite strange. For example, I still keep a Filofax calendar to set all my appointments. If I don't write it down with pen and ink, I cannot remember a thing. I also write out grocery lists and to do lists on index cards....a habit my grandfather used to do and I simply adopted it when I was a child. As much as I'm a Facebook and Instagram junky, I also toggle the analogue world with reverence and glee.
In the technological age of digital and social media, however, the art of the handwritten note is a craft fast becoming obsolete. And yet, it is still one of the most welcoming and powerful modes of communication. When receiving a handwritten note, we have a tendency to pay attention. There is thought and feeling and intention behind the delivery and it's quite sweet, and nowadays, rare, which makes the reception that much more enticing.
Perhaps because it is so personal and heartfelt to write a note and the process also requires patience, time and materials. Materials like pen or pencil and paper or card. There is an effort that is embedded so beautifully and organically in this plan of sharing thoughts and experiences, gratitude and thankfulness.
It is different than the immediacy of writing a text or email. When writing and sending and then receiving a hand written note or letter, there is the quality of time and attention to details that are considered. It takes TIME to choose the card, reflect on the words, write the note, seal and address the envelope, place the stamp, and mail the package. On the receiving end, there is also the time it takes for the post to be delivered.
It is an exchange and a form of communication that is timeless and exquisite and I invite you to practice your skill set and see how it feels to send some notes out into the world. Choose one person each week and send a "thinking of you" note to them and see what happens.
As I was writing this post, I was curious about the history of the handwritten note and this is what I discovered : Click here to read about it.
And then I also was reminded of a postcard that came to me hand written from Costa Rica a couple of years ago. It was never signed and so I have no idea who sent it to me. But it serves as a reminder to me of the importance of sending postcards, notes and cards to friends, lovers, family and strangers, too. It is also a reminder of the sweetness of messages that come through in unexpected ways.
Write with your hand and your heart and send it out to someone today. It may be the most profound message that someone receives.
What's Your Story?
"You is Kind. You is Smart. You is Important."
This is a quote from a book and movie called The Help.
It's a story. Just like any other story. Basically, it's about African American housekeepers who work for White Southern housewives in the 1960's and in this one story there are many stories : lessons and teachings and heart tales that make up our humanness. It's a story that pulls at the heart strings and reveals the truths of life in a way where you feel your heart skip a beat, laugh, break, heal and grow. This is a story of time past and yet still relevant to time present even though the historical circumstances are different. The overall quality of the human condition remains.
This is how the story of life and the life of story works. We live our lives each day from the time we are born until the time that we die experiencing love, loss, fear, passion, injustice, jealousy, greed, compassion, longing, adventure, generosity, fun, tears, joy and every human quality that exists. From sunrise to sunset for as long as we are alive, we are in a story. The story of our life. And it's powerful because our story is embedded with shared meaning and connection.
It's important to share. One way we learn and grow and understand are from the stories of our elders and the stories of our times. A lot of our personal meaning making is derived from stories and sharing tales. And I encourage you to spend some time reflecting on different aspects of your life to find the story and the message that is aching to be told.
A dear friend of mine whom I call my sister, Leza Lowitz, is an American born writer living in Japan with her husband and son and she is about to publish her memoir : Here Comes the Sun: A Journey to Adoption in 8 Chakras. I was with her at the beginning of this process years ago when she was very nervous about sharing certain aspects of her truth and yet she felt equally compelled to get her message out to the world. It's a GREAT read and perhaps you will be inspired in reading her story, to share your own.
You have a story to share. And it's important. Your life is valid and your experiences are valuable and your perspective is worthy of offering to the world. With the rise of social media, we are able to share our stories more readily and easily. And one thing I am noticing more recently is that people are sharing ALL of their story and not just the good and happy parts but also the tough and suffering aspects of life that are equally, if not more at times, empowering and inspiring.
Do you journal? Do you take note of occurrences? How do you share your gifts, your unique teachings, and the lessons of your life with others? Other people truly depend on your perspective and your gifts, so please tell your story.
And check out Leza's book. It's a great read and perhaps you will be inspired to share your own life or aspect of your life, too. If you are uncertain or afraid of something, it's a natural part of the transformation process to feel uncomfortable. Just go for it!
'Cuz please remember : "You is important."
Please Pay Attention...
Your Future Self is Calling You
Every person you meet in the course of your lifetime has an impact on you. There are those people, that when you meet, you have no idea that your life will be changed in some way forever. There are those people that come and go quickly never to be seen again. There are those people that you meet and think you will not see again and they become the most important people in your life. There are those people that are in your circle of love forever and move in and out of your daily life like the tides of the ocean. There are those people that you feel will be with you always and they disappear unexpectedly or circumstantially. There are those people.. .you fill in the blank. People are important. Honor the people in your life. All of them.
People people people are what make the heart heal and break and grow and love and learn. It is people who influence and experiences and shape your path in ways that are both subtle and profound. It is in the meeting and the sharing that is the present moment. Savor it and appreciate it. Love it and adore it. Breathe in each person as if they have a new part of your life to unfold for you.
It is in paying attention to the connections and opening to curiosity as that of a child that the magic and power of Presence and People will be revealed. Over time, the connections and reflections give pause to understanding and inspire the respect for each encounter.
I am reminded of T.S Eliot's Four Quartets:
You say I am repeating
Something I have said before. I shall say it again.
Shall I say it again? In order to arrive there,
To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,
You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstacy.
In order to arrive at what you do not know
You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess
You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not
You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not.
In contemplation and gratitude, here is another poem for the sharing offered to me recently by my college professor, Michael Glaser, who has had SUCH an overwhelmingly and unexpected influence in my life it is beyond explicable and I am forever indebted to his generosity and graciousness in how he shares his passion for the human condition of love and loss and extraordinary living.
No, no there is no going back.
Less and less you are
that possibility you were.
More and more you have become
those lives and deaths
that have belonged to you.
You have become a sort of grave
containing much that was
and is no more in time, beloved
then, now, and always.
And so you have become a sort of tree
standing over a grave.
Now more than ever you can be
generous toward each day
that comes, young, to disappear
forever, and yet remain
unaging in the mind.
Every day you have less reason
not to give yourself away.
-- Wendell Berry --
This is a game changer
For a couple of months I was feeling a bit foggy in the mind and my energy level was waning and yet everything was really good in my health and daily routine. There were no big changes in my life that warranted this feeling and so I was wondering if it may be hormonal or seasonal.
Others were claiming astrological shifts.
Whatever was happening, it was happening and I was opening to receive some new information to clear the channels and the pathways in my body and mind. I was seeking clarity and sustained energy in a natural form that was plant based and SHAZAM! It arrived.
A dear and trusted friend recommended E3Live. I purchased some and started it the next day.
Within 24 hours ~ yes, A DAY! ~
I was feeling back on track and better than ever. Astounding!!!!!
What is E3Live?
E3Live is an all-organic superfood. It is 100% blue-green algae Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA). This nutrient dense superfood contains over 65 vitamins, minerals, amino acids and essential fatty acids. It is a plant-based superfood that is non-GMO, vegan and a rich source of chlorophyll.
E3Live is wild-harvested from Klamath Lake in Oregon, USA.
This one is my favorites and it tastes pretty good, too!
E3Live + BrainON
You can find it at Wholefoods in the freezer section by the ice cream or order it here. Definitely visit the E3Live website for all products and information.
And, please let me know how I can help you!
This stuff is AWESOME!!!!!!
As always, check it out for yourself for a week or so and see if it works for you.
The company offers a 100% guarantee that you will feel differently!
Let me know how it goes!
#secretagentstephanieculen #mydailyom #healthandharmony #e3live
How Do You Get Your Teeth So White?
The Secrets of Oil Pulling
I love my teeth. As a matter of fact : one of my favorite personal care activities is brushing my teeth! So, it goes along to say that I am a big advocate for a healthy mouth which equals a healthy body.
I'm often asked how I keep my teeth so white. My little secret is ... oil pulling.
Oil pulling is easy. It's fast. It's economical. It's uber beneficial to your oral hygiene as well as your overall well-being.
Here's what it is and how to do it :
What is Oil Pulling?
Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic technique dating back about 3000 years. It involves swishing oil in the mouth for a short period of time between 5 minutes and 20 minutes each day or as a weekly ritual. It is mentioned in the Ayurvedic text Charaka Samhita where it is called Kavala Gandusha or Kavala Graha and is referred to as medicinal gargling. It is a very important element to oral hygiene that has other benefits to the body's overall health and well-being.
If we agree that the mouth houses millions of bacteria, fungi, viruses and other toxins, then the oil acts like a cleanser, pulling out the toxicity before they get a chance to spread throughout the body.
It's kind of a miracle how it works.
If the bacteria, fungi and other toxins are not passed through the system, then the immune system is free to activate other elements and helps the body reduce stress, curtail internal inflammation and other more immediate "attacks" on the system. This all equals a more vibrant body and system in present time.
Oil pulling has many benefits and I encourage you to do your research. There are many books and information written on the topic.
I would also encourage you to just start doing it and see how you feel. Be your own physician and test the process.
How does Oil Pulling Work?
First thing in the morning on an empty stomach and before drinking any liquids (including water), take one tablespoon of sunflower or sesame oil or coconut oil into your mouth. Do not swallow the oil but swish it around for 5-20 minutes. You can multi-task here and check your emails, social media, make breakfast for you kids or hang with your pet. Enjoy the swishing and DO NOT SWALLOW!
When the time is up, spit out the oil in a napkin and discard in the trash.
DO NOT SPIT THE OIL DOWN THE DRAIN UNLESS YOU WANT CLOGGED DRAINS IN YOUR FUTURE!
Rinse your mouth with water or brush your teeth. And that's it!
Continue with your day. It's as easy and beautiful as that.
Which Oils to Use
Ayurveda traditionally recommended certain oils for oil pulling depending on your dosha : kapha, pitta and vata.
Personally, I love sesame oil but many people enjoy coconut oil.
Sesame oil is more warming than other oils and may be more gently detoxifying than other oils that are “colder” energetically. It has a somewhat strong sesame flavor, which is a familiar food taste for most people. Sunflower oil has a milder taste if you prefer that. Coconut oil is a familiar taste for many people. It has a cooler energy than sesame oil, so it’s good for people who tend to have a warmer constitution or condition of heat. Some people have reported that coconut oil is more strongly detoxifying, which isn’t always a good thing for some people, so it’s best to be cautious and go slowly
You can experiment, trying different types of oils to see which one feels best to you. You can also experiment with oil pulling for a longer or shorter duration, and doing it more or less often. It is recommended to use organic, unrefined, cold pressed oils.
Benefits of Oil Pulling
1. WHITENS TEETH
Top of the list! The oil has natural antibiotic and antiviral properties that brighten and clean teeth, keeping them quite white. Try it for two weeks and test the results.
2. INCREASES ENERGY
Oil pulling lowers the amount of energy the immune system has to generate to continually clear out toxicity. This naturally helps us to feel better holistically.
3. DETOXES THE BODY
One of the gateways of germs into the body is through the mouth. Taking out the germs at the source helps to prevent the spread within the body.
4. AIDS HORMONAL CHANGES
Without having to compete with other elements, hormones can function better.
5. REDUCES HEADACHES
Oil pulling is a big time help with headaches and migraines. All I can say is try it the next time you wake up with a headache from having drank too much alcohol the night before and see how you feel.
6. KEEPS THE SKIN CLEAR
Removing toxins from the body that would otherwise make it into the bloodstream means the skin has a chance to shine. Rashes and skin issues often reduce dramatically, or even clear up completely, when oil pulling.
7. PROMOTES ORAL HYGIENE
Oil pulling is highly effective at reducing tooth cavities and at eliminating bad breath.
When you start this technique, you might experience some of the positive effects immediately, or it may take a few days or even weeks. It will be personal and particular to you and it will also depend on the state of your immune system.
Try it! It's easy. And, then let me know how it goes!!!!
Are you an Oil Puller? Share your experience in the comments!
share with hashtags #stephanieculen #mydailyom #iloveoils #healthandharmony #secretagentstephanieculen
This is the Dalai Lama Calling
Are you Ready?
In New York City there is always someone doing something amazing, off-the-charts, innovative, out-of-this-world, gorgeous, connected, and well, just BIG! And living in New York City now for over 20 years, I have noticed the cycles of creativity and the rhythm of flow and there are seasons for everything.
There are moments in our lives when we feel that nothing is happening. We are bored, flat-lined, depressed, out of sorts, not motivated.
And then comes the existential wondering :s What am I doing with my life? What's the big picture? or maybe you consider questions of happiness .... What's going to make me happy? Is what I'm doing now bringing me joy?
The cycle of inquisition and reflections starts and the mind, the heart and the body start to move in all sorts of directions. What's is all about? And what am I supposed to do now?
Wherever you go with this cycle, it often-times may feel like it is a state that lasts too long and yet, this "flat-line" time period may be the most important times of your life. Pay attention to them. And watch and listen and take action. One conscious step at a time.
When it feels like there is NOTHING happening in your life is precisely the time when you need to PREPARE and PLAN for the moment when something IS going to happen.
Because when the Dalai Lama calls for you, you want to be ready!
And you don't know when that time will come. SO get ready.
The time you need to go deep is during that downtime when there is no creativity flowing, when the world feels dull, when the days are long and you feel lonely and disconnected from your source.
This is the time you need to go deep and it looks a little different than you might expect. Maybe it is going on that yoga retreat or meditation weekend or writing or getting the therapy appointment on the books. But, if you've been down this road a couple of times, you know, those activities may be good for a short-term fix but then the duldroms creep back into your life. So what makes real change?
It's not what you think. Ready?
Get organized with your external space and your internal space will miraculously shift, too.
Here's your homework:
Clean the closets, wipe down the counters, organize the pictures and the mail, sit for longer meditations, stock the pantry with food, sweep the floor, buy candles and incense, do the laundry, clear out the cobwebs and button up the shirts! In other words, PREPARE for your magic day. And do it with purpose and intention and clarity for as long as it takes until you have the moment when you get the call from the Dalai Lama. And it will come.
And You will be ready! YES!
The "call from the Dalai Lama" is code for the opportunity that you've been waiting to arise. And when that opportunity comes, you want to be ready. And furthermore, you want to be ready to CHOOSE if you wish to engage and receive it or not.
Our preparation leads us to the awakening to more opportunities. And these opportunities are happening in every day many times a day. When we are busy with other circumstances and conflicted with extraneous noise, some opportunities do not have a place yet and we have to wait for an opening.
When you get skilled at this preparation practice, you will notice that you may sometimes desire the periods of flat-lining to return again so there is time to relax and renew and reassess values, goals, intentions and quality of attention. Then the time comes and we start again.
This flow is not always so smooth. There are big waves and small waves and obstacles and setbacks, but the important thing to remember is to continue to prepare for the future that is awaiting you. And when opportunity knocks you can say, "I'm Ready!" and choose if it is what you wish to create or wait for the next opportunity that comes.
It is in the preparation that we have the power of choice.
And that is ultimate power : self responsibility, self accountability and freedom of choice!
So make your bed, take a bath, fold the laundry, do the dishes, sweep the floor, fluff the pillows, prepare the flowers, pour the tea and sit.
Your opportunity will come and you will be ready!
Build Your Dream
On a flight to Seattle, I was reflecting on the last three months since January 1st arrived and what had shifted for me in my heart and mind to build my dream and I wrote this poem.
Build your dream
On rock and with cream
Step by step you will be seen
And in a lickety split
The vision and mission come together with wit
Things are flowing
With effortless effort
When you build your dream
On rock and with cream...
Chocolate + Poetry
Chocolate + Poetry are two of my favorite things EVER!!!
When you buy a ChocoLove bar, you get the best of both worlds!
If you but knew
How all my days seemed filled with dreams of you.
How sometimes in the silent night
Your eyes thrill through me with their tender light,
How oft I hear your voice when others speak,
How you 'mid other forms I seek -
Oh, love more real than though such dreams were true
If you but knew.
- Unknown Author
Pitango's Tea Surprise
I discovered iMovie on my iPad and it's been so much fun exploring different elements and aspects of life to share in different ways of mood and temperament that come together in harmony. This is my second insta-film. Hope you enjoy it!
This insta-film is about my dear friend, Pitango.
We met in 2010 on Prince Street where he sold his rings. He was a street vendor there for 20 years and I walked by him for 20 years before I actually "saw" him. When we met, it was a friendship from the soul and heart that will last forever.
He is a great teacher of life and love and laughter.
Please share on social media!
Four Steps to Bliss
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