There’s a simple exercise that was brought to light by the Zen monk Thich Nhat Hanh and the Zen teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn called the “Raisin Meditation”. It’s basically a mindfulness exercise. I like the Raisin Meditation because it’s capable of expanding ones consciousness without any woo woo.
Get one single raisin. If you don’t have a box of raisins, get one raisin-size morsel of a different fruit, maybe a blueberry.
Place the raisin in the palm of one of your hands. Study the raisin. What does it look like? Describe its color. How many wrinkles does it have? How does it feel on your skin? Pick up the raisin and examine its tactile qualities.
Bring the raisin to your nose and pay attention to any aromas it may have. Do you notice any lingering mustiness, sweetness, or earthiness? Next, bring the raisin to one of your ears. Do you hear any subtle sounds when you gently squeeze it or roll it between the finger and thumb?
Place the raisin between your lips and just hold it there for awhile. How does your mouth react? Do you feel your mouth watering? Do you notice the urge to bring the raisin into your mouth? Pay attention to that desire for a few moments.
Go ahead and push the raisin onto your tongue. What is going on? What does the raisin feel like on the surface of your tongue? How does it taste? Press it against the roof of your mouth. Are there other sensations?
Manipulate the raisin onto one of your lower teeth. Pay attention to the desire to crush the raisin. Gently squeeze the raisin between two teeth but don’t crush it. What does it feel like? How strong is your instinct to chew? Keep the raisin between the teeth for as long as you can.
Go ahead and chew the raisin. Notice the slight pressure on the teeth. Is there any stickiness? What types of flavors and textures are being squeezed out of the raisin? How does the masticated raisin substance feel on the tongue? Do you hear yourself chewing? How strong is the instinct to swallow?
When you can no longer resist the swallowing instinct, go ahead and allow it to happen. Pay attention to the movements of your tongue and jaw. Notice the clenching of the muscles in your throat. How far down the throat can you feel the act of swallowing?
How does it feel to act like a connoisseur of raisins for these few moments? What is the difference, to you, between mindfully eating one single raisin and mindlessly snacking on clusters of raisins? How does the pleasure compare?
Were you able to actually do this simple exercise and not just read about it and process it intellectually?
What did you learn about yourself?