Listening to Incense with Extraordinary Women


The art of listening to incense was shared in an afternoon retreat of extraordinary women in Sebastopol CA. Held once a month under the guidance of Aimee Lyndon-Adams and Karen Halseth the pair promises an experience packed full of passion, compassion and wisdom saying this. . .

Our time together will focus on:

  1. Releasing … Receive the tools and inspiration that will help you let go of stress, tension, and fatigue
  2. Recharging … Feel exquisite pampering and nurturing and leave feeling re-energized and refreshed
  3. Refilling … Become inspired, educated and renewed with each gathering
  4. Recognizing … Prepare to be honored as the extraordinary woman that you are

And we don’t stop there! But, we know that one way to refill you is to surprise and delight you!

Listening to Incense. . .

Was the most recent surprise. An ancient Japanese art which is closely connected to tea rooted in: Wa-Kei-Sei-Jaku . . . harmony-respect-purity-tranquility

Wa harmony- the ultimate ideal for human beings. It is the positive interaction between people in any situation in life. Koh-Do is the sharing between the host and guest and is not a solitary pursuit.

Kei respect-the ability to understand and accept others, even those who we may be in disagreement with. When we are kind to others, and can humble ourselves, we can receive respect.

Sei puritythe ability to treat oneself and others with a pure and open heart. Purity is not one of absolute cleanliness but one of a pure heart. With a pure heart, harmony and respect can be realized.

 Tranquility– the point in ones training or personal practice where a level of selflessness is reached. While on the one hand it is the ultimate goal, on the other it is the beginning once again. A true master reaches this highest level and then putting the ideals of harmony, respect and purity into practice, and begins again, with a fresh and enlightened heart. Now endless possibilities of life can be realized.


listening to incense
Listening to Incense Shoyeido Japanese Incense Image


How to Set-Up Listening to Incense Game

Our group is divided into 3 smaller groups pulled together in circles.

Three different incense are lite, with only one given to each group and then passed from one to another within each group.

One person in the group serves as the host or scribe and captures the feelings, thoughts, emotions each scent provokes for each person. This should take about 5 minutes and then the bowls are passed from one group to another and repeated.

After about 15 minutes each group will have several notes for each incense stick. From there they will together decide which stick more closely represents each of the elements, Wa, Kei Sei. The three groups share their findings and then an overall determination is reached for each.

What is the Value of this Game?

Art forms such as the tea ceremony, flower arrangement, archery, calligraphy and incense ceremony are often referred to as taking lessons or play. Play however does not simply mean an extravagant pastime for the rich or something in which only children engage. Far from it. What, then, is the value and significance of activities that we ordinarily call play? Some of the reasons for play include;

  • discharging superabundant energy
  • relaxing after exertion
  • training for the demands of life
  • compensating for unfulfilled longing
  • acting on an innate urge to exercise a certain faculty.

But if we look a little deeper, as with children who take their playing seriously, they eventually step out of reality or confuse the world of play with that of reality. Play can be serious and may even rise to heights of beauty and sublime. Play casts a spell over us; it is enchanting and captivating and brings us to rhythm and harmony. Does that seem familiar? Play enriches our lives by allowing us to grow mentally. The practice of the way of Koh provides an exercise in sense-ability or mental expansion.

Although there is no “right answer” the creators of this game choose as follows:

Wa harmony is the green stick evoking clarity and harmony ever-present in the tea garden.

Kei respect is dusty rose, respect that arises from the river path and practiced in the tearoom.

Sei purity is the lavender stick purity which comes from refinement and compassion as seen in a teapot.

Thank you for playing Listening to Incense with us, please feel free to share this game with others.   We sincerely hope this experience has inspired Wa-Kei-Sei-Jaku for this artistic expression of impermanence, humility and imperfection is the Way of Koh and Tea.


Extraordinary Women Afternoon Retreat
Extraordinary Women Afternoon Retreat
Extraordinary Women Tai Tokugawa and Karen Halseth
Extraordinary Women Tai Tokugawa and Karen Halseth


Tai Tokugawa and Karen Halseth Afternoon Retreat
Tai Tokugawa and Karen Halseth Afternoon Retreat

Extraordinary Women Gather on the last Wednesday of every month.

See what will be happening next month at Afternoon Retreats

Do you know an extraordinary woman? Are YOU an extraordinary woman? Tells us about her/you here now!





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