The Raisin Meditation

(from my book Elderwoman: Reap the wisdom, feel the power, embrace the joy.)

You 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. 

I 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. 

Whatever you choose for this exercise, make sure it is something  you love the taste of. 

Place 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. 

Sit 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.

Give 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. 

When 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. 

Put 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. 

Gently 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 reverently. 

Swallow 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. 

Before 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. 

Allow 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.

Read about 'The Delphi Moment'

Read about 'The Fruit and Veggie Moment'
Inner Simplicity

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