During the summer between my freshman and sophomore years in high school, my mother, stepfather, younger sister, and I spent some time in Barbados. My father had just committed suicide and we were all processing that in our own ways. Like my relationship with my father had been, my emotions around his death were complicated. I needed space from my family to move through the layers that were coming up for me on my own terms, so I spent a good amount of the trip by myself, hopping on buses into town to explore and roaming the vast and lush grounds of the property we were staying on.
One of the remnants of the colonial history of Barbados is that many of the hotels and resorts offer high tea every afternoon, and during my stay, I found myself spending many of my afternoons sitting by myself on an outdoor patio, drinking tea and taking in the natural beauty that surrounded me. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was my entry point into the world of ritual and the healing that can come from practices that encourage stillness, presence, and simplicity.
When I returned to LA with my family, I continued to make tea for myself almost daily. I would boil the water, drop a tea bag or two into a teapot, and watch the steam pour out of it as I filled it with water. I would wait a handful of minutes and then pour my fresh brew into a mug with a little raw sugar and cream, just as I had enjoyed it during my time in Barbados.
My family thought it was kind of silly, but for me, it was a way to create sacred time for myself. The whole process was meditative; it dropped me into my body and my sensory experience and allowed space and quiet so the more subtle aspects of my inner world could come forward. I savored those moments. They were healing in ways that I didn’t even understand at the time. But I could feel it. Even if I wasn’t consciously engaging in a practice of self-care, I was doing something that was nourishing for me on so many levels. And so, I continued.
Over the years my tastes have shifted. Black teas to greens to florals and herbal infusions, but the practice is the same. Heat the water. Steep the tea. Drop in to the experience.
These days, it’s become a very intentional practice. I choose the ingredients that I’ll be using with care and often choose a plant or a blend of plants based on what I’m needing support around. Rose for opening the heart. Thyme for immune support. Ginger root to cleanse. I’ll set aside time to really be present with the ingredients, both as I prepare them and as I sip the infusion, and I’ve come to notice that each ingredient seems to have an energy of its own, a medicine, not just for the physical body, but for the mind and spirit as well.
The element of water is present, too. The source of all life and the universal renewer. Few things are quite as soothing as perfectly warm water, the simplest of all healing balms for weary bodies and souls.
Each of these pieces comes together to create something greater than the sum of its parts. Plants, water, time, all infused with intention. None of it has to be fussy or complicated. Honestly, it could be as simple as a little bit of fresh lemon juice in warm water, but used as a way to hold space for yourself, to connect more deeply with the parts of you that so rarely get heard above the din of everyday life, it becomes a ritual. A practice in healing. A way to make even the tiniest moment sacred.
And while tea is my healing ritual, the truth is that it could be anything. Watering your plants. Dancing in your living room. Taking a bath. Massaging oil into your skin. Preparing a meal for yourself with so much love.
So many people seem to be seeking heightened spiritual experiences these days. A connection to something greater, something ancient, perhaps. And while there’s nothing wrong with exploring different practices to find what supports you most, I think what so many people don’t realize is that profound connection to Spirit doesn’t require elaborate ceremonies or a bunch of fanfare. It can be found in the seemingly mundane, everyday rituals that we create for ourselves. In moments of quiet, enjoying the simplest pleasures, like watching the steam rise and swirl above a freshly poured cup of tea.