day 75 – Eating a Raisin Meditation

You will now experience Jon Kabat-Zinn’s famous Raisin Meditation.  If you do not like raisins, use something else.  He is also famous for the classic, never out of style or time book, Wherever You Go, There You Are.

The cultivation of mindfulness has to do with paying attention to things that we don’t ordinarily pay attention to.

Use one raisin, plumped in some water for around an hour in order to soften.  Begin by sitting in an upright position and breathe deeply for three to ten breaths, eyes closed till you are completely relaxed.  Relax your shoulders and neck.  Then, gently open your eyes.

Pick up the raisin and bring the specimen up towards your face for closer inspection.  Drink it in through your eyes. Make believe you have never seen one of these things before and maybe even forget that it is called a raisin.  See it in its fullness.  You have certainly never seen this particular raisin before.  Notice its surface texture, color and shape, as you turn it in your hands – are there any unique features to it?  Notice the circular little scarring at one end.  This is the equivalent of our belly button.  It is evidence that this shriveled up grape was once connected to a much larger whole. 

And now, use your imagination and take it back to this place of origin;  how it grew on a vine and was cared for, how the sun shone on it and heated it, how it was watered and how surely bees visited its flower before it was a grape. Someone planted this vine into fertile soil.  Now picture how someone had to hand pick it.  Then it was carried to storage in order to dry. Think about the route it took to get from vineyard to store, to here, in your hands. Think of all the people and miles that transpired in order to bring it here in this moment into your hand, in front of you. And bless this raisin with gratitude and your attention.  Send it all your love vibrations!

Now close your eyes and feel it with your fingers.  Really get in touch with this object. Notice the ridges and the valleys and maybe even put it into the palm of your hand and feel the heft of it.  Feel its weight.  It has a certain weight to it.

Bring it up to the nose at a certain point – drink in the fragrance- sense anything at all in the domain of smell coming off of this object.  Be in touch with your experience from moment to moment.  Just sense what is here to be smelled, allow the in breath to bring in the aroma if there is any.  Be aware of the quality of the attention that you are bringing to this hugely familiar object.  And stay as best  as you can in this awareness from moment to moment. 

When you are ready,  bring it up to one of your ears and see if you can hear anything, turn it around real close to the ear. Use the hearing sense. Some foods actually do fizzle, crackle or make noises and you may find that this little object may surprise you. 

Then bring it gradually towards the lips, don’t eat it!  Notice that your arm and hand know how to do this. They know how to position it right in the center of your mouth.  When you were around 6 months old, your body didn’t know how to do this.  Whatever you were eating wound up on your face, the floor, all over your body.  Honor how well the gross motor skills and the functioning of the hand and arm can bring this object right up to your lips.  As you do that – notice what is going on in your mouth. 

There is a strong secreting of saliva perhaps and it is clear that there is a certain amount of anticipation – eating is going to start happening fairly soon.  Notice that this object has not come into the mouth yet.  It is the mind that is anticipating eating it.  The body is synthesizing and generating enzymes and fluid to prepare the mouth for this initial step in the process of digestion.

It is a real mind/body phenomenon.

With great sensitivity, slowly bring the raisin to the lips and notice how it comes into the mouth.  Noticing how this whole thing works.  What goes on to bring this object into the mouth?  And then notice how it gets positioned between the teeth.  Pay attention to the role of the tongue in receiving it.  Don’t bite into it yet.  Just hold all of this in awareness, moment by moment. Just feel the intelligence in the tongue, the cheeks, teeth and in the mind that is so well suited for this activity we call eating and we do so many times a day with very little or no awareness.

And then slowly when the raisin is positioned where the mouth wants it to be positioned, slowly start biting down on it and take maybe 3, 4 or 5 deliberate, intentional, mindful chews while you remain open to whatever is going on in the mouth in any of the sensory domains including hearing, tasting and feeling the texture.  Don’t swallow. 

Experience chewing and tasting moment by moment by moment.  Enjoy the direct sensory experience of chewing and tasting.  The teeth come down on this object; notice the taste in the mouth. Notice any changes in the texture and taste as you continue to chew.

Be aware of the intention to swallow. When did it first arise? Whatever is left gets positioned for swallowing; be in touch with swallowing and in the aftermath of swallowing, rest in the awareness of how it feels in this moment as you sit here – follow what you have swallowed down into the belly, where it will come to rest in the stomach and allow your awareness to expand to include a sense of the body as a whole having just eaten one raisin with this kind of present moment, open-hearted spacious attention.  

 Just rest here in this awareness, feeling how things are right now in this moment, in the aftermath of all that’s come before.  Feel how it is in the body, how it is in the mouth, how it is in the heart and how it is in the mind.  Just rest here. You are outside of time, in the present moment, without having to have anything happen next.  The practice here is to be with each moment as it is.  Be the knowing, be that which knows the experience in its unfolding, as it is unfolding and rest here moment by moment by moment.


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