Hanako’s soft presence and loving kindness radiate as we sit for tea. Her graceful movements find a willing backdrop, as the early morning light dances with the wind.
Like so many, she came to Byron Bay for a holiday that was supposed to last a few days, then ended up staying for five years. With experience in Eco Tourism and Marine Biology, she has most recently studied Counseling. Someday in the future, she may integrate it with Yoga Therapy in order to support people in their healing journey. But for now, she is on the verge of a new chapter outside of work, as she and her partner set off in their caravan. Traveling down the east coast of Australia with no destination in mind, she doesn’t know where they will end up. And she has the space for that.
How did you come to tea or how did tea find you?
I was introduced to the concept of tea ceremony through my grandma – she’s Japanese. But I didn’t sit for my first tea ceremony until Global Tea Hut visited Byron. It was beautiful, but I didn’t develop my own practice or get introduced to it on a deeper level until Sam and Cloud Hidden. Those smaller community groups gave me something to be able to start developing my own practice.
I remember one time we went to Protestor Falls and shared some tea at the base of the falls. That was really beautiful and heart-opening and that is when tea really found me. That was about two years ago.
Can you share a little about your tea practice with us?
It’s pretty simple. On a practical level I like leaves in a bowl and side handle. I go through ebbs and flows; sometimes it’s a daily practice and other times it’s a couple times a week, and it becomes a bit more fluid.
Do you have a favourite piece of teaware?
I love my Peter Quo side handle (maker of Cloud Hidden teaware). I have quite an intimate relationship with it because it’s the perfect size for having for myself. I always have a bowl that’s an offering to souls past and to the earth as well.
How would you say your practice has evolved over time?
It’s become more fluid, I think. When I started out, I was a lot more rigid with it. I’ve been finding my own little groove and letting go of needing to be a tea master. It’s been deepening through experience and the more and more I sit with the tea.
How has tea changed your life “outside of tea” however you conceive of that?
It’s opened me up to a beautiful community, and it’s given me a tangible tool to tune in more to the subtleties of life.
What three words would you use to describe tea?
Homecoming, Humility, Reverence.
Do you have any other rituals outside of tea to help you stay grounded and connected?
I do. I have my sadhana, my yoga practices and also I’m pretty religious about Morning Pages. I love to write; I find it really cathartic. And honestly, really just being in nature, being in the ocean. It’s really cleansing and grounding and spiritual.
I remember not that long ago, I realized that I was feeling really rigid with my practices – I’ve got to sit, I’ve got to do this and got to do that – but really I just wanted to be out in nature. When I allowed that and let go of some of the rigidity of my practice in the morning and got out into nature more, it was so powerful. It feels like it comes easier and is really natural.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out in their tea practice?
I think it would be to keep things simple and just allow space for it to evolve through experience.
Can you share something special that is happening with you in this moment?
I’m about to set off on a journey. I’m really in a period of transition at this moment, and I know a lot of people are. I don’t know where we’re going to end up ultimately and I’ve made space at the moment, so I’m not working for a few months. I’m really excited about opening that up and seeing what happens. I feel like there’s a bit of an inner journey happening as well, traveling from my mind back into my heart.
Blessings on your journey. I think it’s time for us to share some tea, but before we go, do you have a wish for the world?
Many wishes, many wishes. I think for humanity and for the world I suppose, it’s that we don’t let it slip through our fingers; to not let things slip through our fingers and be caught up in our minds. We’ve got to be present – really present – for our lives and for each other and for the earth as well.