By: Vivian Duncan
Mr. Doug Adams’ pottery class at Newnan received the opportunity to participate in a tea ceremony, using the teacups they crafted themselves. Craig Canedy has come down from Sandy Springs each semester for four years to do this ceremony with the students so that they get to use their hand made tea cups.
The students make two different tea cups throughout the semester in the traditional Japanese style, consisting of one for summer and one for winter. The winter one is narrower and cylindrically shaped to keep the tea hot for longer. The summer tea cup has a wider lip and is shaped more like a bowl, in order for the tea to be able to cool off quickly in the summer. Neither cups have handles because of the belief that if it’s too hot to hold, its too hot to drink.
Canedy came prepared for the presentation, with his “sacred stage,” which is the area in which the tea ceremony takes place. He brought three different kinds of tea kettles and other personal items such as his dreamcatcher and a pouch with special stones from friends. There was soft, calming music playing the background.
Canedy holds a master’s degree in music therapy from Georgia College and State University and a bachelor’s degree in music composition from Sierra Nevada College. He is also a board certified music therapist and is the director of Muse for Life, “a center for music, dance, meditation, health and overall creative inspiration and expression.” Canedy developed his practice by working with Georgia Regional Hospital Atlanta, Cumberland Academy of Georgia and the Lionheart School, where he specialized in working with children on the autism spectrum.
“It is through his kind generosity in time and resources that this event is made possible and brings great excitement to the students,” Mr. Adams said of Canedy.
He started out his presentation by discussing different musicians such as Jimi Hendrix as a segue to explain the science behind the harmonics of the universe, using cerebral alertness as a topic to explain enlightenment. He told the students that we can sense on a higher capacity, but we get distracted by life.
“We have a lot of distraction. Our goals, our pressures that are on us to get things done, our media, TVs, cellphones, posters, billboards, all of it, distract us from being
aware of what’s happening,” Canedy reflected on modern interferences to living.
“If we dream the possibility that we can expand our senses in our full capacity, what does that mean?” he mused.
Canedy used this discussion of senses to lead into a lesson on sound, resonance and harmonics, even using tuning forks as a metaphor. There are grounding tones, just as one can be grounded in life.
He was very intellectual in this discussion, talking about how “those things that share harmonic qualities together will sympathetically vibrate in response, which is resonation.”
He explained how thoughts create a resonation pattern and mentioned scientific things like electromagnetic synaptic currents, nerves firing and electrochemicals.
“If all we are is distracting ourselves out here with disharmonies, and we are not grounded in the fundamental, our life and our emotions are going to feel out of place, fragmented, scattered. We live in this place of the world right now that is all ungrounded.”
To bring the discussion back to the tea, he described how although tea drinking is a very simple ritual that is very accessible, traditionally, ceremonies were done for communities and people, “to tune into the fundamental.”
Shifting topics to the tea itself, Canedy taught the students about how different factors such as quality, steeping time and the heat of the water factor into the tea. He let the students come up to the table to see the six different kinds of tea he brought with him: white, green, oolong, black and pu-erh.
Canedy analyzed all of the other factors that go into tea as well, such as the water. He explained that we are eighty percent water, and he discussed several scientific experiments about the relationship between a person and the water, ultimately coming to the conclusion that it absorbs the energy you give it.
“I know it sounds like mumbo jumbo to a certain degree, but now there has been a lot of scientific and verifiable physics that really verify this stuff. The ancient, holistic and homeopathic view is being bridged now with this medical allopathic approach.”
Then, Canedy began brewing the tea. The class started with white, then chose light green tea and tried the fermented pu-erh tea. With each tea, the students were advised to smell it first and then when they were to take the first sip, to hold it in their mouth a moment in order to let it cover all of their taste buds.
After trying each tea, the class got to have a tea reading. After drinking their pu-erh tea, they left the tea leaves for Canedy and Adams to come around and read them.
The tea ceremony was an excellent way to allow the students to use their pottery creations, and they also were able to learn more about different ideas and practices from other cultures ways of being.
Mr. Adams’ pottery classes were very grateful for Canedy’s donation of his time and his willingness to share his knowledge as well as share his tea. Students left the ceremony with a different appreciation behind the process of making a cup from its most basic materials as well as the process of making what goes in it.