Part 2: The Raisin Exercise
Ok, yea …This one sounds a little strange. I remember my first mindfulness course. The instructor came around with a bag of raisins and I thought “What a wonderfully weird thing to do. A biscuit would have been just fine!”
And she gave each person JUST ONE raisin and told each of us, as the raisin fell into our palm “Don’t do anything with that raisin. I just want you to look at it and certainly DO NOT eat it”
Roll of eyes skywards with a thought of “Ok. So now what new voodoo is this?!”
15 minutes later. Something had changed. Well, to be honest. Something had reset in me. And since that day, it has pretty much stayed that way. And that was 14 years ago.
So trust me it’s a powerful exercise
The Raisin Exercise brings an amazing level of awareness to something that we all do every day. And for many of us, we do badly; myself included, full confession, hands up guilty.
Eat. And how we eat.
This is an important exercise. And it has a strong impact on our lives. And we will remind you of the Raisin Exercise again when we talk about Mindful Eating.
This demonstration of the Raisin Meditation by Dave Potter at Palouse Mindfulness is just perfect in its humble serenity. And it takes the exercise into a second, very beautiful phase which brings added meaning to it all.
You will need two raisins. (Ha! Not being mindfully generous or kind. It’s what’s needed for the exercise) and a glass of water.
Please try to do this exercise. If you don’t have two raisins, how about two thin slices of a banana or a segment of an orange cut into two halves. Just remember to have two of whatever you chose to use.
Make the effort to find a quiet space where you will not be interrupted.
And give it your full, curious and kind attention.
Notice the awareness.
Holding, Seeing, Touching, Smelling, Feeling, Hearing, Moving/Rolling/Squeezing, Tasting, Chewing, Swallowing.
And then the appreciation and gratitude of all the energy, and hard work and the lives the raisin has touched, to reach you.
Think how you would normally eat one raisin
Chew. Gulp. Gone.
After you hear the story of the second raisin, and its journey to reach your mouth, you realise its one purpose was to give you a flavour burst.
Its long journey, made up of many lives and nature’s resources, was to bring you some joy …
No time is given. No respect. All that journey. Gulp. Gone. Extinguished with no dignity what so ever. Gone unappreciated.
And that’s where so many of us go wrong. We miss out appreciation. And appreciation requires awareness. An awareness of the present.
The critical element of The Raisin Evercise is how it can change our relationship with food and mealtimes. Specifically, how we ACTUALLY eat when we do have food.
Now think back to the exercise. Did you notice something else?
By focusing on the one simple, ordinary raisin and bringing your awareness to touching, feeling, squeezing the raisin all the way to that final swallow; you brought your full attention to the present, to what is right in front of you.
And you were appreciating the texture, colour, taste of the raisin. Probably more than you ever had since the first time you ever saw a raisin.
Remember one of the Nine Attitudes of Mindfulness? Yes, beginner’s mind.
That powerful level of awareness. To view something with the curiosity of a child viewing it for the first time.
“By focusing on the raisin in their hand and making a point to notice everything about it, they are unlikely to be expending energy, time, and attention on worrying or ruminating about other parts of their lives.”
It pays to do this exercise once a day for a week. Try it with different small pieces of food. And remember to make the journey of all the lives that were touched and the resources it took for that small piece of food to reach you and be eaten. Appreciating the nourishment it brings as you do so.
Remember this mindful exercise when we next have a brief look at Mindful Eating. It slots in very nicely.
To find out more about the Million Steps Challenge and how we can help you, your business or charity, please visit https://millionsteps.com
Or Register your organisation interest: Million Steps CoVid-19 Package here