The Raisin Meditation
(from my book Elderwoman: Reap the wisdom, feel the power, embrace the joy.)
may find it best to read this exercise through first and then do it, rather
than trying to read it and do it at the same time.
use those plump and rich‑brown muscatel raisins that come with the stalks
attached, because the flavor is so rich and I love them. But you could use
anything—a piece of full-flavored, organically grown apple, for instance, or a
strawberry, but only if they are in season. When we eat the fruit which is
growing naturally around us, in its own season, it gives fully of itself and
seems to nourish us more fully on every level of our being. Dried fruit is fine
though. It saves it sweetness for us, long after its growing season is past.
Another favorite taste treat of mine is
dried mango. I know where to buy the fair-traded ones, so that when I eat them
I know that whoever picked and processed this fruit was properly rewarded for
his or her labors. And the fact that it comes from far away and therefore cost
a lot of energy to bring to my plate means that it is something I only allow
myself to indulge in very, very rarely, perhaps on special occasions like
Christmas or my birthday.
you choose for this exercise, make sure it is something you love the taste of.
the raisin (or whatever you have chosen to substitute) on a small and pretty plate, in a little basket
or on some kind of ceremonial dish or container, which may be anything, a
special hanky, a seashell, whatever takes your fancy. This act of choosing a
special container is important. It is one of the things which turns an otherwise ordinary act
into a ritual. Just as the Japanese use a special teapot for the tea ceremony,
or Christians use a chalice and paten for their wine and wafers, our raisin
needs its ritual container.
in a quiet, comfortable, undisturbed place, and relax. Allow the busyness of the day to drop away.
Take a little time to explore, inwardly, noticing where there are lingering places of tension in your body. Acknowledge each one and thank your body silently for these attempts to armor you against the problems and difficulties of the outside world. Then gently let each tension go.
your mind time to slow down and become quiet. The Buddhist teacher, Thich Nhat
Hanh says that when we sit down to meditate, we are a bit like a glass of
cloudy apple juice. When you let it sit quietly for a while, it clears. Sit
quietly, and gently allow your body to relax and your mind to clear.
you feel ready, take the raisin from its container and look at it carefully.
Notice its shape, color, texture. Visualize it growing—how it developed and
ripened in the warmth of the sun. Let yourself feel a sense of appreciation for
it, as a gift to you from the sun.
the raisin in your mouth and hold it there, exploring it slowly. You may choose
to do this with your eyes closed. Feel the saliva coming in as your body
prepares to begin the work of absorbing this new food.
break its skin with your teeth and feel the flavor burst upon your senses. Roll
it around in your mouth. Chew it slowly, slowly, savoring every movement, every
sensation, fully feeling it, concentrating your whole being on the taste, the
texture, the experience of eating this one small thing very, very slowly and
it only when it has become fully liquefied. Then savor the taste which remains
upon your palate, just as a wine taster savors a fine wine. Give thanks once
again, to the food itself and the sun which grew it, and to yourself for the
opportunity to have this experience.
you return to the ordinary world, take a few moments to review your body again
and check that the once tense places remain calm and relaxed. Make some
gesture, like placing your palms together, or whatever occurs to you, to
signify the closing of your private ritual, and wash, wipe or ritually dust off
the container that you used before returning it to the everyday world also.
yourself time to let the effects of this deceptively simple exercise reach your
being at all levels.
And by the way, don’t beat yourself up for not eating every meal in that slow and meditative way. Don’t burden yourself with good resolutions. This was an exercise, not a prescription. So just put the dish away and get on with your life.
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