2021-22 上學期 Term 1
Law Hei Nga Jasmine
Medicine / Year 1
Having been brought up by my parents, who are avid tea drinkers, it comes as no surprise to me that I drank a lot of tea growing up as well. I particularly enjoy floral teas, such as chrysanthemum and jasmine. However, I didn’t particularly put much thought into the art of making and drinking tea, other than the refreshing taste.
When the workshop ‘A Taste of Zen in Tea’ opened with the question, ‘When was the last time you made yourself a good cup of tea?’, I had to pause and think. Come to think of it, due to the pressures of school and other commitments, the last time I’ve made a proper cup was in Primary 4, during a Chinese class. I’ve always drank tea, but they usually come in bottles, or the complimentary tea received during yum cha. Drinking it was a thoughtless process: thirst causing me to drink, the taste of the aromatic tea causing me to drink more, until I’ve finished.
Dr. Sandy then led a meditation session to allow us to calm our racing minds, relax our muscles, and to empty all our day-to-day life thoughts. As she instructed us to relax our muscles, I relaxed my shoulders, which I didn’t realize were tensed in the first place. Throughout the 10 minutes or so, I truly felt connected to my own self, and for a very long time, my mind did not jump to places like the unfinished assignments, required readings or upcoming exams. It was simply inner peace, tranquility, and I felt like a new and well-rested person, free from the shackles of this material world.
Following the meditation session was a few techniques on making my own cup of tea, and upon closing my eyes and trying to focus on the tea ceremony and drinking said cup of tea, I started to notice the details of making tea that I haven’t yet before. The slow, serene trickling of tea into my teacup, the distinct, musty aroma of oolong, and the slightly tart, yet sweet aftertaste that was left in my mouth. The relaxation and focus gained from the meditation amplified my enjoyment for the process of tea making, not only regarding the taste, but the appreciation of the art and delicate procedures of making the cup of tea.
‘A Taste of Zen in Tea’ enabled me to take time for myself to relax and most importantly, feel a connection with nature, even amongst the bustling metropolis of Hong Kong. I will bear the meditation practices and tea-making techniques in mind, as a reminder for when I am anxious and overwhelmed, that there are ways to recalibrate, and de-stress.
My gratitude must go to Dr. Sandy and other supporting tutors for organizing this event, and for exposing us students to the connection between Zen and tea, that we perhaps would never have comprehended without this opportunity.
2020-21 下學期 Term 2
護理學 / 一年級
中國語言及文學 / 四年級
護理學 / 一年級
LAM Long Kit
Chinese Studies / Year 1
Due to the outbreak of coronavirus, this activity provides an invaluable opportunity for me to experience mindfulness and the unique Chinese tea culture.
First of all, the most impressive part is practicing mindfulness through a cup of tea. It is because I am probably tired because of the assignment and exams, especially it is my first year at the university. Therefore, this activity helps me to relax and try to connect with nature in order to enhance my capability to tackle the challenges I face in the future, such as working in society. As a result, a healthy life can be created.
Apart from that, I have an in-depth understanding of the tea culture and meditation. In the former one, we use the cover bowl which represents heaven, earth and human. It focuses on the harmonious relationship between the human and nature. The latter reminds us to stop chasing our emotions and bring our minds back to the present. Hence, we can relax our whole body by doing some exercises. As Dr. Damian suggests, I will try to download the meditation bell as a reminder for mindfulness.
To conclude, this workshop can keep me an unforgettable memory in my university life through changing my thinking and habit. Therefore, I want to express my gratitude to the lecturers who provide us with meaningful time.
LAM Wing Man
Pharmacy / Year 1
Having a mother and father who are both tea-lovers, drinking tea has long been a daily routine for me. My family collects all sorts of tea, ranging from Oolong tea and Tie Guan Yin, to Pu’er and Da Hong Pao. Therefore, I felt like “A Taste of Zen in Tea” suits me a lot. This is the reason I join this workshop. In the following, I will share my feelings about this workshop.
First of all, it was great that we could spend a few minutes to meditate. As exams are coming in a few weeks’ time, I have become more and more stressful. In this experience, I realized that meditation could help me restore calm and inner peace. Therefore, from now on, I will consider meditating whenever I am anxious, stressful and worried.
Besides, it was great that I could make tea for myself in this workshop. In the past, I seldom make tea by myself. Most of the time my mum does the job for me. Also, I tended to drink a cup of tea very fast that I was not able to enjoy the tea. In this workshop, though I was not well-equipped, I could still enjoy the moment of making and tasting the tea. This was a rare moment for me to take a sip of the tea. If I have time in the future, I will definitely try this again.
Overall, this workshop gave me a special experience about meditation and tea. I enjoyed it a lot!
心理學 / 一年級
通過這個工作坊，我學會了「活在當下」的生活態度。作為一個大學生，我和很多香港都市人一樣天天生活忙碌，常常未完成上一份作業就要開始溫習下一個考試。長期的學業壓力有時的確會把自己壓得喘不過氣來，卻又不敢停下步伐，怕因此而落後他人。這個工作坊剛好為我提供了一個平靜身心的機會，例如：在「坐姿動禪引導」環節中，我們一起閉著眼睛放鬆身體、運動肩膀，我從這個環節中學會集中精神在自己當刻的感受，不再像平時一樣刻意壓抑自己的疲勞感，而是正視身體向自己發出的訊號：我累了，我需要放鬆和休息。這種「體驗當下」（experience the present） 的學習令我反思自己平日的生活節奏，讓我明白原來適當的休息是必須的；我更發現這樣的禪修練習的確能讓我的精神和注意力更易集中在一件事上，做到「一時一事」，因此我打算以後也定期做類似的練習以鍛鍊自己的集中力及讓自己適時停下來放鬆身心。
風險管理科學 / 一年級
MBChB / Year 1
Unlike most people who did their sharing in the workshop, I am always finding ways to stop myself from doing stuff, or using my brain, with the energy-saving motto in my mind. This resulted in me trying to procrastinate and being reluctant to play mind games like Among Us, as I know how exhausting it is to use my brain. Yet it seemed that something was not in place, that I can barely find myself really doing nothing but often end up surfing the Internet (still wasting my brain memory), resulting in my self-awareness on the deterioration of my attention span when I try to focus on certain task without my hands moving. I can focus well, to be honest, when my hands are moving. Me writing up essays, drawing, sometimes having lectures and studying for hours in a row are cases in point. The exposure to Zen in the workshop was kind of a breakthrough to me, where I reckon I discovered the way to concentrate in doing nothing. Clear my mind, focus on the flow of air through my nostrils, enjoy the peace. I have been bombarded by the advertisement on YouTube saying that people often have the misconception that meditation means doing nothing. And through the workshop, I felt I was finally able to understand what the master meant – concentrate in doing nothing, which I believe is the take-home message of the workshop for me.
WIJAYA Emily Stephanie
Quantitative Finance / Year 2
In such a busy and hectic lifestyle, it’s easy for us to forget to slow down and relax. Similar to how the pandemic has put some of us to stop and rest for a while amidst our fast-paced work, I think that was how my experience in A Taste of Zen in Tea with Dr. Sandy was. Having all the worries on exams, assignments, internships, future career thoughts, or even world issues, I just recognized how I’ve never really put my time to be aware of the present. I constantly have things going around my mind even during my lunch or my night sleep. I just came to a realization that when I’m doing only one thing at a time, such as eating, hearing lectures, hearing weekly church services, I got bored easily and tried to find other things to do whilst doing that activity. Therefore, it’s hard for me to focus continuously and I’ve never been wholly into each of those experiences.
This was actually my first time learning about the Chinese tradition and ceremonial way of serving tea. I don’t think any other countries have this kind of detailed and formal procedure, therefore it was an interesting experience indeed. In Indonesia, particularly, I don’t think there were any procedures to begin with. We never thought much about serving in such a formal way. The tea served was mostly from the restaurants or even small stalls by the street, which sometimes is put in a plastic bag or glass. It was such a contrast on how Chinese and Indonesian serve their tea. Honestly, I am also not much of a tea lover. Therefore, it is very rare for me and my family to serve tea in our household. The only place where we usually got our tea was the one served in the restaurants. Moreover, I’ve never used the traditional Chinese Tea Set, or even had them, but seeing all the attributes Dr. Sandy showed was definitely appealing. I would really like to learn and experience using those one day.
Overall, I must admit at first I was participating for the extra points, but in the end, I learn a whole new experience in Chinese tea tradition. It was simply soothing to listen to how the water poured, how the tea smelled, and be present in the whole experience.
中國語言及文學 / 一年級
社會工作 / 一年級
環球經濟與金融 / 一年級
YIP Hoi Tung
Biochemistry / Year 1
“Please place your electronic devices aside” wasn’t a phrase I expect to hear in a UGFN workshop conducted on Zoom.
Our reliance on electronic devices has significantly increased due to the prevalence of COVID-19, so hearing something the opposite of this phenomenon wasn’t common. Little did I know that the experience would be this remarkable.
In the first half of the workshop, we had to mediate while maintaining a sitting position. It was difficult stopping my thoughts from drifting away at first, but as I focused on the placement of my hands on my lap, unnecessary thoughts gradually left my head, until it felt like I was the only existence left in this universe. When the Keisu sounded and I came back to my senses, I experienced Zen – the calmness and peacefulness that came after mediation, which was a first for me.
In the second half of the workshop, we had to brew a cup of tea for ourselves. But this cup of tea wasn’t about finishing a cup of hot water with a tea packet in it, it was waiting for the flavour of tea leaves to seep into the water, and letting the tea linger on your tongue to stimulate your taste buds. This cup of tea engaged my senses and made me feel the present moment. I had become used to time silently passing by and this cup of tea was one of the few times I felt that I actually existed.
“A Taste of Zen of Tea” gave me a chance to take myself away from electronic devices and slow down in life, allowing me to sense my body, connect with my consciousness, and actually feel my presence, which I have become so accommodated to. It was refreshing to acknowledge my senses and my mind without having to find an objective to doing it, as if I was giving myself a pat on the back for simply existing. I would like to experience the remarkable connection between body and mind again, and I would most definitely join similar workshops in the future, when an opportunity presents itself.
2020-21 上學期 Term 1
CHOI Hoi Yi
Biomedical Sciences / Year 2
It was after this activity that I realized how I could have treated life differently.
As a student, concerning academic performances and future career paths are often inalienable parts of my life. Though I am passionate about my studies and enjoy every learning process, it is unavoidable to doubt if I have performed good enough for some of the assignments or tests, and worry about upcoming challenges. In such a state of mind, it is not surprising to be stressed all the time, without realizing it myself. With the tremendous workload, I always find myself being in a hurry, hoping to save as much time as possible so that I could focus on my work. If I ever notice myself being in a situation in which it is unexpected or that I am not in control of, I would panic or feel uncomfortable, for instance, attending gatherings that take up a lot of time. Every conversation seems to take ages, and my heart would constantly wonder when I could go home and finish my assignments, and as time passes, I feel more and more pressure. I seldom have thoughts of living in the moment, and even if I have the thought of it, I could hardly attain it. Sometimes, I would hang out with my friends and family and would be able to temporarily “live in the moment”, but as soon as I get home and knew I have to start working, I would feel more pressured again.
During the workshop, I was able to relax, and finally realized how stressed I was. When practicing mindfulness meditation, it was not easy to focus and not think about anything, as thoughts keep appearing in my mind. It really took me quite a while to calm myself, and be present. In a relaxed yet concentrated state, I was able to be more meticulous and I could notice more small details happening around me, like my breathing and some touch senses. This continued as the activity proceeded to the tea tasting session, in which I was able to pay attention to every small detail like the heat of the teacup, the sound of tea being poured into the teacup, the movement of steam, the smell of the tea and its taste. As the taste of the tea lingered in my mouth, I reflected on life and felt that I have not been so slow-paced for a long time and had been ignoring many details in life. Waiting for my cup of tea to cool down before drinking took quite a while, and at first, I was quite impatient, but gradually led myself into a calm state and waited for the moment without having any emotional changes. The process of waiting is actually an art, and how one waits for something could reflect a lot about the person.
The taste of tea also made me think of other components that made this moment of tea tasting possible, like the processes involved in producing the tea, all the equipment, the current workshop event, etc. This truly reflects one of the ideas mentioned in “The Heart of Understanding” in the UGFH book, which is the state of interbeing of everything. The analogy mentioned during the workshop about a master asking others to drink tea (喫茶去) also consolidates the idea mentioned in the textbook about upekkha (分別心), in which people should put down their own thoughts and see everything equally.
In a nutshell, the event allowed me to reflect on myself, and I have decided to start meditating since it helps us with our emotions and thoughts, and has multiple positive impacts on our brain, as mentioned in one of the videos.
數學及數學教育 / 二年級
社會科學院 / 一年級
音樂 / 二年級
人工智能：系統與科技 / 一年級
TSE Yat Long
Social Work / Year 2
“A Taste of Zen in Tea” workshop gave me ideas on mindfulness mediation, tea-meditation and an opportunity to practice tea-mediation. I feel grateful to have this opportunity to taste tea as an activity of mediation because it modifies my original idea of mediation, which is mainly sitting quietly without thinking clumsy things in mind. Indeed, this workshop brought me a new dimension to feel mediation which require me to pay attention on the moment with non-judgmental mind.
In the workshop, the parts that inspire me and make me feel the most memorable was letting us to smell the tea leaf and taste the first bite of tea with our eyes close in tea mediation part. The smelling part brought me a new way to experience the tea, the smell of tea leaf was a bit bitter but mildly fragrant. Besides, the tasting part let me feel not only the mild flavor of the tea but also let me feel the aroma of the tea at the same time, I found that the aroma changed the flavor of the tea from bitter to mildly sweet (甘). These two findings in the mediation help me found out that I have never thought about flavor of tea could be mildly sweet because I seldom drink tea and my impression of tea remain in my childhood memory which was all tea are very bitter and do not suit me. This brand-new experience from tea mediation gave me a totally new understanding on tea and inspired me to practice tea mediation again to find out more about tea and enjoy the non-judgmental moment which can free and relax my mind. As the result, I feel grateful to have this opportunity to practice tea-mediation in this workshop.
社會學 / 一年級