Reviewed by Kathryn Metro
Adreanna Limbach’s new book, Tea and Cake with Demons, relies on Buddhist teachings to improve our self-worth and explore our insecurities. Limbach believes that the Buddha represents our capacity to be present in our own lives and come to know the “fundamentally whole” versions of ourselves. The book explores this mindset through the lens of Buddhist teachings and the Four Noble Truths. Limbach has divided the book into three parts: Waking Up to Worthiness, The Four Noble Truths, and The Eightfold Path.
The first part of the book addresses our definition of worthiness. Limbach delves into the concept of entelékheia, or entelechy, which represents the idea of development of self-expression. One of the fundamental teachings of Buddhism postulates the entelechy of wholeness and worth that we all possess inherently. Limbach states, “Nothing is wasted, nothing is discarded, everything is workable and has a place” (11). This basic wholeness means that we have a birthright of belonging to the earth, which I think can be a comforting principle to remind ourselves when we don’t feel valuable.
In Part two Limbach discusses The Four Noble Truths and how they can guide us through finding our way out of dissatisfaction. The First Noble Truth describes that life always involves suffering, even when things feel good. The other three noble truths discuss the cause of suffering, the end of suffering, and the path to enlightenment and freedom from suffering. If we live a life full of love and happiness, we are also bound to experience the absence of these feelings at other times. When we do experience times of suffering, Limbach urges us to thank these periods of suffering for the information they give us about who we are.
The final part of the book addresses The Eightfold Path, which shows us that all parts of life are interconnected. Within the fourth noble truth is the guide to the end of suffering: the eightfold path. According to the principle of Beneficial View, part of the right view practice, an individual’s point of view on their varying experiences shapes their relationship with the world. We only have access to our individual point of view. At the beginning of the path, Limbach urges us to consider which stories benefit and harm us by acknowledging how they influence our understanding of the world. Buddhist tradition encourages meditation practice to slow down and consider the interconnectedness of life.
Tea and Cake with Demons is a self-proclaimed “non-self-help book” that offers advice about how to be at peace with our deepest insecurities. Learning to accept ourselves as we are is a critical part of living a fulfilling life; this book provides insight into how to get closer to this goal. Limbach promotes mindfulness and meditation as methods of accepting ourselves. These practices focus more on long term growth than quick fixes to being more confident, and therefore they may not be attractive to everyone.
Adreanna Limbach is a personal coach and a lead meditation instructor at MNDFUL, a meditation studio in NYC. Her teachings have been featured in the New York Times, Women’s Health, and Refinery29.
Kathryn Metro studies applied psychology at New York University and is set to graduate in 2021. She has interned in classrooms in the Greater New York City area and has interests in communications, Spanish, and working with children.