My mother took me took me to my first yoga class in the basement of our synagogue in our neighborhood outside of Pittsburgh, PA when I was only 7 years old. That was back in 1971, and I have had an interest in contemplative practices ever since. My fascination for Eastern philosophy, meditation, and mindfulness was further fueled when a psychotherapist told me that I was Taoist when I was only 16. Unfamiliar with the term, I rushed to the library to learn more. Intrigued by this newly discovered philosophical inquiry, at that time, my sights were still set on a career in the performing arts - theater, music, and dance - with dreams of being Broadway-bound.
When it was time to head off to college, I sought a school where I could continue to perform yet could obtain a useful major to "fall back on" should my theatre plans take an unfortunate turn. Emerson College allowed me to study communication disorders, speech pathology and psychology, yet continue to explore my creative side. To my utter surprise, I enjoyed my courses, and slowly the thought of a career in medicine began taking shape. Afraid of abandoning my artistic pursuits completely, I spent several more years vacillating, until a dance injury destroyed the cartilage in my knee, forcing me to confront my next steps.
Despite my already formed views about health and wellness, I ventured down a conventional medical path, deciding to move to Chicago for an MD/PhD program. Even as I was packing to leave, I knew something was amiss. This conventional route was not aligned with my approach to life. Still, I made my way to Chicago, only to sit in the parking lot for hours before I turned around, and drove back to Pittsburgh. Unsure what to do once home, I sat and waited. Finally an acupuncturist I knew mentioned a medical program in Seattle which emphasized diet and nutrition, herbal medicine, physical medicine, counseling and a several other modalities as the first and fundamental approaches in creating health. I learned that at that time, only two naturopathic medical schools existed in the United States, one in Seattle, John Bastyr College of Naturopathic Medicine, and the other in Portland, National College of Naturopathic Medicine. I called both to requesting information (this was pre-internet days), then booked a flight to Seattle for an interview.
And this is where tea first played an influential role in my life path. One of the reasons I chose Bastyr back in 1991 was Teahouse Kuan Yin, which opened in the Wallingford area only a few months before I landed here. Never much of a coffee drinker, I began drinking tea during college, as I would study over a pot of assam or chai. Tea was a meditative experience for me, and the entire process, from selecting the tea, heating the water to the proper temperature, to using the appropriate teaware, to the inevitable consumption, allowed space in my day to take a break, breathe, pause and be present. Tea was something to experience. Tea was not to be rushed. Tea was a meditation.
Kuan Yin Teahouse became a second home for me during my years in naturopathic medical school and beyond. I spent many a day and evening studying, journaling, imaging, envisioning, in essence, meditating over a cup of tea.
This website is dedicated to the original owners of Kuan Yin Teahouse, Miranda and Frank, as well as all the subsequent owners (Jim & Marcus), and the owners of my other favorite teahouse, Remedy Tea/Modern Steep (AJ, Anthony and Christopher). All of you, in your own way, have taught me so much about tea, and hence living. Thank you.
This website combines my passions for meditative living and tea!
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