Do you like raisins? Because I hate them. They are disgusting abominations, a sad remnant of what used to be a noble fruit, and the world would be a far better place without them.
Raisins are responsible for unhealthy trust issues. Don’t believe me? Ever bit into what looked like a delicious chocolate chip cookie only to find out its actually oatmeal raisin? Yeah. Trust broken.
Why dry a grape? Why shrivel it into what looks like a rotten tiny testicle and presume people will want to put that in their food. There are better things to do with grapes; make wine, make jelly, make juice or soda! Don’t make friggin’ RAISINS!
The reason I bring up this culinary atrocity is because one exercise we did as part of our mindfullness training was to eat a raisin. But not just normally… mindfully. That’s right. Using all the skills and tips and patience we learned in theory, now we had to injest a grape corpse in all its disgusting detail.
First, you hold the raisin. You feel its weight. touch its saggy skin. Is it warm? Cool? Does it feel like evil incarnate? Notice the texture. Notice the colour. Is it a light or dark raisin? Can you foresee your death in its evil face? Of course not! This is mindfullness, all it can show you is the present! The horrible inescapable torturous present!
Hold the raisin to your ear. Move it in your fingers a bit and notice if it makes a sound. Does it squish a little? Is it hard or soft? Can you hear it screaming for the sweet release of death?
Hold the raisin to your nose. Smell it. Does it smell sweet? Or Bitter? Does it smell like the millions of lost souls of grapes trapped in a sundried prison? What’s that? You say you like raisins and it smells like sweet sunshine? Screw you.
Now, put the raisin in your mouth, but don’t bite down on it yet. Hold that bastard on your tongue for a moment and focus on the sensation of it. What is the taste? What is its shape? How does your tongue, lips, teeth and cheeks change to accommodate this intruder? Try putting it between your teeth slowly and feel the resistance as you apply a little pressure. Now bite down. Notice the sensation of ripping the sweet flesh apart. Notice the taste flood your mouth and the saliva that flows in to surround it.
Chew it slowly, noticing how your tongue moves the bits from one side of your mouth to the other. What motions are intuitive or deliberate? Are you fighting off the urge to gag? Is your intuition to hurl that soggy usurper across the room and kill it with the firey fury of a thousand suns? Notice that feeling. Allow it to pass through you, because now you have to swallow the damn thing.
What are the mechanisms of a swallow? How does your mouth shift to move the masticated remains down your throat and into your stomach? What kind of aftertaste is leftover? Is it like the bitter tears of unrequited love? Or perhaps like the sweet taste of revenge on a hated enemy? Maybe it tastes like the nothingness of an empty black soul.
Its over now, and the group can reminisce on the experience of eating a single raisin mindfully. We learned about how to stay in the present, and how to engage our senses to really focus on the here and now. We’ve proven to ourselves that it’s possible, and even enjoyable to explore and learn about an action so small and mundane. We can take our experience here and apply to all sorts of other small mundane experiences until we’ve practiced enough that we can begin to apply it to larger and larger experiences.
I know a big part of mindfullness is to observe, describe and participate without judgement, and this whole post (and my honest experience) is nothing but a big stinking pile of judgement. Worry not, the hypocrisy is not lost on me. But approaching a challenging exercise with good humour makes the lesson more memorable and enjoyable. Did I eat the raisin mindfully? Yes. Did I enjoy the experience? Heck no. Would I do it again? If I needed a reminder on how to be mindful, yes I would. Because in the end it’s not about how much I think raisins are a wretched deceptive excuse of a food, its about the lesson. What I learned in this exercise is incredibly valuable and I do practice it in everyday life (just not with raisins).
Go ahead, have another one if you want to. It’s much easier the second time, or the third. Take the whole box home if you like! And don’t worry if you didn’t really get it today, remember, each module is run through twice so in a few weeks you get to eat ANOTHER RAISIN!!!