This week I am on a business trip and have the pleasure of staying at a Sheraton hotel in Ft Lauderdale. It is an OK place. A few quarks, etc. I would give it three or four stars. Breakfast is in the main atrium next to the large waterfall feature at the core of the hotel. The food is pretty good and the orange juice is perfect! (cold and with pulp)
I am not used to eating alone. It is a rarity in my life. Eating alone in a large room full of noise but with few people but with plenty of time is far from normal.
I am the first one down for breakfast (does everyone sleep in?) and can get a table in the middle of the room. From here I can listen to the waterfall or watch people arrive and leave through the elevators. Mostly I get the chance to think, or not think as it were. I try to practice some artful mindfulness through the meal. Paying attention to the taste of the food. The various sounds in the room. Etc. It is not as easy as it sounds for someone that is always thinking of something. I came up with this blog post while trying not to think.
I know the Japanese have a special Tea Ceremony. It is on my list of things to learn about, along with ten thousand other items. It is my understanding the Samurai considered it an art form to master. This morning I tried my own little ceremony with the breakfast coffee. I held myself still and carefully poured the coffee from the carafe. Next I purposefully added the cream then gently stirred it in with a spoon. Finally I slowly sipped the coffee while fully tasting it. During each step I paid close attention to how I sat. How my body was breathing. Each and every movement I performed.
I found the entire Coffee Ceremony experience meditative and relaxing. Well, maybe not relaxing. I certainly became more aware of myself and strangely, what was going on around me. I can understand why a warrior class would focus on such a mundane task as drinking tea.
So the next time you are alone with your thoughts and a cup of coffee, try your own American Coffee Ceremony. Pay attention to what you are doing. Observe the people around you. Experience that moment in time. It will never happen again.