My old friend, the raisin
In an introduction to mindfulness class I led last week, we included an eating with mindful awareness exercise, focusing on eating a raisin mindfully - savouring its colours, shape, texture, smell and taste. When we explore a raisin, eating it very slowly, we can notice how it changes and we are often surprised. How can there be so much to appreciate and notice in something so 'simple' as a raisin? This exercise can show us that, when we take a moment to stop and absorb the present, we can find beauty and wonder in the most unlikely places.
If we do not have any food to hand, this practice can also be done with something as simple as a glass of water. This can let us see that by being mindful with the ordinary, we can have a rich experience.
We can also take time to consider how the item arrived in our hand. Taking a moment to consider the people involved in growing the raisin, or whatever it is, maybe picking it, transporting it. And then getting it into the shop and everything else that was involved in getting it to us. What a lot of people work to provide us with food.
Discussing the experience afterwards, someone who was new to meditation said he felt sad when he finally swallowed the raisin, as if saying goodbye to an old friend. I was struck by this. With just a little focus, one can quickly create fondness and connection with even the most ordinary of things that we so often take for granted in our busy lives. May you find some new 'friends' today!
Mindful eating meditation:
1. Before you start, take a few deep breaths.
2. Notice how you are feeling in your body and mind. Are you feeling hungry? Any particular thoughts or emotions? See if you let your experience be as it is.
3. Pick the item of food up, either by hand or with a utensil, and simply look at it. Observe it as if you have never seen anything like this before. In deed you haven't seen this exact item before.
Notice the colours, textures, shape.
4. Be aware of movements in the body as you bring the food to your mouth.
5. Take time to smell it. What does it smell like?
6. When it is in your mouth, notice how it feels to move it around your mouth. Try to stay with the physical sensations as they arise, and just let thoughts and emotions pass by.
When you chew it, how does the texture and taste change?
7. And what does it feel like as you swallow?
Finally, have you noticed anything new in this experience?
See if you can continue with some level of mindful awareness as you carry on eating.
Bringing awareness to our eating can help us stay grounded and relax; it is also the first step to deal with over eating and emotional eating.