In 2019, I walked into my home after a deeply spiritual visit to Sedona, Arizona. I spent the week there meditating, writing, and enjoying the outdoors. I left with a sense of excitement and relief to finally do something for myself. I returned home feeling a greater sense of calm and at peace.
At the time, we occasionally opened our home to travelers. The experience I would have when I entered my home after my trip to Sedona would change my life forever.
(The following was written in 2019.)
A quiet Chinese man stood in my kitchen carefully tossing a variety of vegetables into an enamel pot. The entire aura of the home was different on this day. Tranquil. The man in my kitchen seemed so carefree. The way he prepared his food was as if he were dancing. Flowing through the kitchen.
Rudolph wore a very simple Chinese outfit that made him look the part of a true monk. He kept slider shoes reserved for use inside the house, and a couple other shoes were left in the foyer for outdoor use. His long sleeve shirt was an earthy orange color, much similar to the beautiful colors of Arizona. It seemed to be nothing more than practical. No glamour.
After conversing with him for quite some time, I found that he was traveling the world, praying in every city he visited. The entire purpose of his visit was to pray for my city... Amazing. He offered to have tea with me later in the evening. I was about to have tea with an actual Chinese Monk!
I arrived in my dining area early so that I could take a few notes. I was not prepared for such an intense experience. I was so present for the entire 2 plus hours that I only wrote down a single note. Our discussion was far too interesting to interrupt them with writing.
Rudolph came into the room with a thermos and a small bag with a sharp tool of some sort. He quietly walked off for more of his supplies and came back with a soft cloth with a tea brick wrapped inside. As he unfolded it, I became entranced. I had never seen a brick of tea before. I learned that such a brick could cost hundreds of dollars and beyond.
He heated water to a boil inside his pot and then he joined me at the table. He slowly poured the tea from his pot into the thermos. He poured about 12 ounces from the thermos into the tea pot to let it steep.
“We start by crossing our legs in this position.” I followed suit. “You don’t want to sit straight up. You should lean slightly forward, so that you are centered.”
Rudolph explained to me how to meditate at my appropriate level of experience, and as he poured our hot tea from the tea pot into our cups, he explained that we would now meditate for about 2 minutes and then we would “slurp” the tea.
“While we meditate, the tea will cool off a little bit. It will still be hot though, and that’s good. We slurp the tea, which cools it off!” He offered a patient smile, and looked deeper into my eyes than most people do. He felt at peace.
We meditated. He explained that level one meditation simply involves “focus.” “Focus on something soft and gentle; a flower blooming, or a pet’s fur. The goal is not to empty your mind- that is very advanced meditation.” A gentle smile. A deep gaze into my eyes.
I closed my eyes and tried to picture a delicate flower slowly blossoming into life. About 5 seconds in, I was distracted with another thought.
“Okay, back to the flower,” I thought to myself.
I pictured a patch of dark soil, and a small green stalk protruding slowly from it with a little bud on the end of it. I imagined it growing slightly taller, and then I heard my dog Keeva chewing on something. Pictures of what she could be chewing on filled my mind.
“Back to the flower. Back to the flower.” I struggled to gain focus. Time passed. I couldn’t seem to get past my original vision of the flower. I couldn’t focus long enough to make it grow.
Again, I tried my hardest to picture a flower blossoming from a little bud. Eyes closed.
“Now we may sip,” Rudolph awoke from what was surely a deeper meditation than me.
I’ve tried meditation before, so I already knew this is something that takes time to master. I’ve committed to meditating, but then stopped because I was too busy and not seeing a benefit. The truth is, it’s time to dedicate some time to it once and for all.
I had no idea, but Rudolph informed me that meditation can be 1-2 minutes in most cases! That alone is very helpful to know. Rudolph says to simply meditate while the tea cools off. I can do that. And if I drink just 3 cups a day, well there’s several minutes of meditation I get to experience.
Perhaps in a week I’ll be able to focus long enough to imagine my flower emerging from the soil, growing into a little vine, and blossoming open. Such focus is a discipline that can be improved over time.
Rudolph and I each had 5 cups of tea. He says you can just keep drinking until “you feel the need to go to the washroom.”
Looking back on this experience two years later, I remain grateful for this experience. The following is written in 2021.
As I enter a new era of my coaching practice, I look back on this experience with fresh eyes. Rudolph taught me that tranquility can be found in the shortest of moments; "one to two minutes." He taught me the importance of "envision(ing) something soft- like a rabbit, or a flower." And he taught me the power of simplicity.
I look forward to revisiting these concepts in my personal life. What have you experienced that reminded you that life is a treasure?