Meditation For Dummies
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Try this eating meditation the first time you practice mindfulness. Starting with eating meditation demonstrates the simplicity of meditation. Mindfulness meditation isn’t about sitting cross-legged for hours on end, it’s about the awareness you bring to each present moment. Meditation is about living with an open and curious awareness. Anything done with mindful awareness is meditation, including eating, driving, walking, talking and much more.

Try the following exercise:

  1. Place a raisin in your hand.

    Imagine you dropped in from outer space and have never seen or tasted a raisin before. Spend a few minutes looking at the color and texture of the raisin. Explore the creases and folds of its skin, how it catches the light as you rotate it and how much varying detail it contains. Observe the skill in your fingers to be able to delicately hold and rotate the raisin.

  2. Bring the raisin towards your nose.

    Feel the sensations in your arm as you bring the raisin towards your nose. As you breathe, notice if the raisin has a scent, and the quality of it. Notice how you feel if the raisin doesn’t have a scent. Spend a few minutes doing this.

  3. Hold the raisin to your ear.

    Rotate it gently between your thumb and finger and listen to the sound it produces, if any. Perhaps it makes a quiet crackling sound or no noise at all. When you’ve done this, bring your arm back down.

  4. Rotate the raisin between your fingers and thumb.

    Notice the texture of the raisin. Close your eyes to tune into the sense of touch more deeply. Feel the shape of the object and its weight. Gently squeeze the raisin and observe if you can get a sense of its inner contents.

  5. Bring the raisin towards your mouth.

    Are you salivating? If so, your body has already begun the first stage of digestion. Touch the raisin gently onto your upper and lower lips to see what sensations you can detect. Place the raisin on your tongue. Do you have a sense of relief or frustration? Feel the weight of the raisin. Move the raisin around your mouth, noticing how skilled your tongue is at doing this.

    Place the raisin between two teeth and slowly bring your teeth together. Observe the phenomenon of tasting and eating. Spot the range of experiences unfolding, including a change in taste, and the fluxing consistency of the raisin as it slowly breaks up and dissolves. Be aware of yourself chewing and how you automatically start to swallow. Stay with the experience until you’ve finished eating the raisin.

  6. Notice the aftertaste in your mouth having finished eating the raisin.

Now, reflect on these questions:
  • How do you feel having done that exercise?

  • What effect will this process have on your experience of eating raisins?

  • What did you notice and find out?

There’s no correct experience in this eating meditation. Different people have different experiences. You probably found it wasn’t your normal experience of eating. The first thing to discover about all meditation is that Whatever your experience is, is your experience and is correct and valid.

By connecting with the senses, you move from automatic pilot mode to a mindful mode. In other words, rather than eating the raisin while doing something else and not even noticing the taste of the raisin, you deliberately turn your attention to the whole process of eating.

You may have found the taste of the raisin to be more vivid and colorful than usual. Perhaps you noticed things about raisins that you hadn’t noticed before. Mindfulness reveals things you didn’t notice, and transforms the experience itself, making for a deeper experience. If this is true of eating something ordinary like a raisin, consider what effect mindfulness could have on the rest of your experiences!

You may have noticed that you were thinking during the exercise, and perhaps you felt you couldn’t do the mindful eating properly because of thinking. Don’t worry – you’re always thinking, and it’s not going to stop any time soon. What you can do is begin to become aware that it’s happening and see what effect that has.

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