The Way Of Tea: A Ritual Of Remembering With LiYing Lim
LiYing Lim is a Sacred Mentor, Energy Alchemist and Keeper of The Way of Tea (Cha Dao). Lim’s teachings bridge spirituality and science, with intuition and heart-centred healing, encompassing love, poetry, presence and connection. After experiencing her work, here Rebecca Moore learns more about her journey and the origins of this ritualistic practice.
Ceremony facilitator and healer LiYing Lim uses Cha Doa, The Way Of Tea, to hold transformative spaces. By Using traditions and ritual, women are supported in healing their own relationship with their bodies, awaken to divine self-love and be empowered to share their own sacred work with the world.
Edinburgh based LiYing Lim is a Sacred Mentor, Energy Alchemist and Keeper of The Way of Tea (Cha Dao). Lim’s teachings bridge spirituality and science, with intuition and heart-centred healing, encompassing love, poetry, presence and connection. After experiencing her work, Otherness guide and contributor Rebecca Moore spoke with LiYing to learn more about her journey and origins of this ritualistic practice.
After years of feeling stuck in an unfulfilling job, whilst battling severe anorexia, LiYing discovered deep personal healing through the modality of Tea. A chance invitation to sit in ceremony with a Cha Dao facilitator in Hong Kong, inspired her initiation into the ancient practice. She has since devoted her time to sharing this healing modality with others, carving out her own unique offerings, whilst honouring the traditions.
What is Cha Dao and where are its origins?
To practise Cha Dao · 茶道 ·, we must first let go and begin anew every time and stay present to the now. For centuries, Zen monks, taoists and shamans have relied on the Tea Spirits for their healing abilities and ancient wisdom. This is a practice that was left in the dust of the past as Tea began to be grown and sold as a commodity. What first began in the cracked bowls of shamans, in what we now know as China, with just a few leaves and hot water captured the imagination of sages who yearned to live a secluded life in the mountains. Later, Zen monks saw a quietude that Tea exudes and thus, the plant medicine became one of Zen's most powerful and elegant allies. Many a bowl of Tea have been exchanged between master and apprentice as non-verbal transmissions. This found its passage to Japan, where you can experience their very unique flavour of Tea Ceremonies to this day.
Through creating sacred space and ritual, Tea is honoured as a plant medicine and Spirit, through which we are able to sit in silence, turn inward and reconnect to nature, our hearts, gratitude and love for the simple moments in life.
When and how did you first discover The Way of Tea as a healing modality?
Not too long ago, I became disillusioned with my own life. I had everything I ever wanted, A job I had always dreamt of, working for a highly reputable media organisation, an amazing boyfriend, a beautiful home in an area of Hong Kong, that I absolutely adored. Yet, I had a growing feeling that this was not right for me.
I threw a huge request up to the Universe: "Please show me the way!”. Then one day, an invitation landed in my email inbox: "Would you like to come for a Tea Ceremony?” happening in a new space a couple of floors above my office. I’d never heard of a Tea Ceremony, but why not I thought, I love Tea.
Upon arrival I was instantly overcome with a veil of calm and otherworldly aura. As the door to the ceremony opened, I was mesmerised by the grace of a woman on the other side. Sat behind a table, joined by a group of people watching in silence as she placed one hand on the lid of a teapot, Incense was drifting up into the air.
I took my seat on the cushion laid out for me and I watched as she prepared the tea, hands dexterous and intentional with every turn she took. Finally, when I was served with a smile and the bowl straight from her heart to mine, something tugged me from my core.
I took my first sip, suddenly I realised the search had ended. I was no longer feeling inadequate and never good enough. I was no longer feeling like there was something more out there for me to achieve and prove.
As I took another sip of the wonderful fragrant liquid from within the bowl I heard: "You must be brave. You must serve Tea."
After this transcendental experience, I wasn’t sure what it all meant. All I knew was that I had to speak to the woman who served me Tea. I wanted to learn everything from her. I was scared, yet it felt like a major turning point. I felt deep down in my intuition, which was still slumbering then, that this was going to change my life forever.
It took me one whole month before I finally got in touch with her. We had another round of Tea and when I plucked up the courage to ask her to teach me everything she knew, she said: "Start by drinking Tea and learn Her language. That is all.” And so I did. I sat in her Tea Ceremonies everyday, sometimes twice daily. Eventually I began to serve alongside her as her cha-tong · 茶童 ·, water-bearer. I listened as she spoke about the nature of Tea and Cha Dao. I cleaned the Tearoom with her and various other students of the same lineage as hers.
I began to realise that I was going to leave my current job and this was going to be my destiny. To become a keeper of Cha Dao · 茶道 ·, The Way of Tea.
At the beginning, I would try to guess what Tea it was she was serving. I would ask why she did things in one way, how should the Tea be brewed. She would always say, "It doesn't matter what Tea it is. How did you feel when you drank the Tea?” Pretty quickly my mindset transformed. Everything else began to fall into place. Everyone thought I was crazy. No-one understood why I was so "obsessed" with learning something that seemed antiquated. But I had finally found my centre of stillness and there was no turning back.
Divinely timed, her teacher came to Hong Kong and I sat with him before I pursued my life-changing course to the next phase of my life: a move to Edinburgh to live with my now-husband. I have since served over a hundred Tea Ceremonies and I am gearing up to launch new programmes, that will take students from surviving life to absolutely loving life.
How did working with Tea support your own healing journey?
I was a lost sheep who believed that my writing would never sustain a living. I was stuck in a job I hated, diagnosed with anorexia, broke and at my lowest weight and self-esteem. I was depressed, desperately seeking love, and only ended up with wrong turns that led me to thinking I was not enough.
When Tea and I crossed paths, I realised that what I wanted all my life was to be seen and held. Today, I hold myself within this bowl of Tea and I see my writing as a gift I can use to serve others. Tea has taught me to see that everything happens at the right moment, even the moments that feel extremely tough and impossibly painful.
Now I know that everything is interlinked. In this vast interwoven Universe, we are all running in circles. What makes life beautiful is only our own perception and appreciation of life.
If we can learn to flow with the Way of Tea and see that life has ebbs and flows, that serve to nurture us, we can see anything through and act from the stillness that exists within us.
What are the most important elements of a Tea Ceremony?
If you are serving, you are the most important element because your energy determines how the Tea will taste for your guest. Not just how you brew the Tea, but also your intention, how you're setting out from your centre of stillness. Cultivation truly can shine when you polish up that central vortex daily, increasingly, through non-being and non-doing. If you are the guest, all you need is a beginner's mind and an open heart to receive.
How do you honour the ancient tradition whilst making the practice accessible for everyone?
It is of vital importance to me to honour the ancient traditions, with intentions in every single move and what you see on the Chaxi, the Tea Stage. I vie to make it accessible, by incorporating a unique Night Sea Journey meditation, with crystal healing sounds, to connect to the heart and spiritual realms. I also offer something new to my repertoire, distance energy healing, so that my guests can be supported to dive deep into the world of stillness and access their own multidimensionality with ease. So many of us live in our heads most of the time, so I found this to be extremely powerful.
What is the The Sacred Way and how does it differ from The Way of Tea?
I came up with The Sacred Way when I felt the words come through me one day sitting with Tea. It encompasses the great Dao/The Way, that which is unknown reminding us of our multidimensionality. It is also known as the Source, the divine presence and all that is sacred. The Way is available for all of us to enter when we drop from our will to true inner wisdom - by surrendering, nurturing and quietening the mind and sitting deeply in our body as spirit.
How else can people connect with your work?
My programme Siren Goddess is a powerful blend of Tea, energy clearing and healing something I am currently expanding upon. Guests receive solid structure and strategies, energetic analysis and deep alchemical healing that will strengthen their magnetism and connect them to their core self-worth. I offer deep unparalleled daily support and I am with you every step of the way. This stems from my personal experience understanding, that whatever you want, begins with deep self-love. I wish I had this programme when I was going through hell and back, compromising my authenticity and shrinking, starving my body and at the mercy of the limiting beliefs that told me I was never good enough.
What is your definition of divine self-love, and in what way does journeying with Tea support that?
Divine self-love is knowing that you are a LEADING LIGHT.
You understand that when you tap into the courage within, you are going to ascend at the speed of light. Deep down you know that your art and your soul expression needs to be shared with the world.
To sit in ceremony everyday is not a privilege, it is a ritual of remembrance.
A beautiful beholding of life's transience is refreshed on every new page that unfolds each time you come into ceremony. This is the centre of stillness you have come to claim and own, fully and without fear, without the need for external validation.
You are piercing the veils.
You are giving yourself full permission to feel here.
A witnessing of the calm snowfall of heavenly light, that arrives just above your Goddess crown as you close your eyes and open your inner eye.
These leaves from ancient, wild-growth trees awaken and unleash the untamed, unconstrained Goddess within you.
You are initiated into your heart centre.
You learn alignment from taking no action;
You pick up the light language of your soul through the soughing of the pines, the music of water boiling in the kettle;
The taste of sweet earth and the sun, moon and stars in your mouth with every sip you take;
The wisdom of the dark cavernous waters that run still and silent in the underworld queendom of Goddess of the West, her wisdom at the base of your being, gushes forth.
You are guided to an inner knowing that this too shall pass and you pass through it, not around it.
Be the leading light that you are.
Everything you want to manifest can come to you with ease and grace.
And it all starts with deep self-love.
Spiritual and wellbeing therapist, creating soulful spaces for individuals and groups to share openly, explore curiously and transform deeply.
With a background in entrepreneurship, mentorship and coaching, her practice incorporates mindfulness, meditation and reiki - fusing western and ancient techniques, grounded in love, presence and connection.
Projects and start-ups span the arts, fashion, eco-hospitality, natural skincare and conscious living.