Mindfulness Meditation: Using a Raisin to Find Peace
Pay some mind to your mind. Focus on the raisin.
You may have heard of the practice of "mindfulness", which is a meditative focusing and relaxation technique which spawned from religious Buddhism. I learned about it in law school from a wonderful and highly intelligent man named Scott. He taught us to really put our feet on the ground, to really taste the food in our mouth, and to really feel the feelings that arise. Being in law school is an incredibly stressful experience. The entire foundation of the type of school is built on constant competition, and the prize is simply the ability to enter another competition. What I mean is that you compete to get in, once you're in you compete to get on law review, into a club, in a position, or for class rank, and that status gives you the ability to compete for a job, or for another position, and once in that job or position, you compete to win the case, or to move up in your firm, or to get elected. And instead of beating the stress that naturally attaches itself to all of this competition, Scott told us to feel it. He told us to let it arise, recognize it, then let it pass. He told us to apply this mentality to all things, and by doing this we would be able to begin walking on the path to inner peace.
I am only going to talk about the basics of mindfulness here and give you some links, because it, like anything else worth doing, is a process.
Since most of you have probably not had the experience of attending law school, I will tell you about mindfulness with a more global example: eating a raisin. This idea is also one of Scott's. I am simply going to give you the steps to eating a raisin in a mindful way, and you try it once or twice, and you can decide whether it is stupid. All you need is a box of raisins and probably a chair. Do this slowly.
- Look at your box of raisins. Think about the box, how it feels, its colors, the design on it... close your eyes and feel its weight and texture. Shake it, hear it, smell it.
- Open the box, noting how it feels when you squeeze it, noting the sound of the top popping open and the smell that comes from it.
- Look at the box when it is open. Look in the box at all of the raisins. Smell them, feel the weight. Look at the sticky stuff on the inside.
- Put your finger in the box and feel the raisins.
- Pick one and take it out.
- Don't eat it! Hold it in your hand. Smell it, feel it, squeeze it. Close your eyes and do it again.
- Put the raisin in your mouth. Close your eyes from here on out. Don't chew! Feel it on your tongue, note any taste. Notice your saliva. Hold it there for at least one minute.
- Chew once. Notice the way it feels on your gums and teeth, the sound, the new taste. Notice how much you want to keep chewing. Hold it there for at least one minute.
- Chew it again, slowly, letting it slide around on your tongue. Put it in your cheek and taste it. Really taste it, feel the texture. Is it sweet? Sour? Notice any urges to chew faster.
- Swallow it when you are done chewing. Notice how it feels. Notice how your mouth feels with nothing in it, with the sugar the raisin left behind.
- Open your eyes again. Ever had a raisin like that?
Also notice how you really tasted and really felt, really experienced what it was to eat a raisin. It may not be mind-bending or life changing, but it is a philosophy to try on other things in life. This philosophy may bring you a more consistent feeling of inner peace.
Below are some links about mindfulness and how it is related to the jolly, big-bellied Buddha.
What stresses you out most? (Or let it out in the comment box!!)
I'm not crazy, other people eat raisins slowly too.
- The Mindful law Student Finding Balance and Success in Law school
This is Scott's page - not everyone is a law student, but the practices he talks about are applicable to everyone who has stress! (I'll bet you fit in that category.)
- Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Course - Week 1 meditation for the masses
It seems that Scott's idea is popular. There's something about those raisins! This site focuses on mindfulness for stress relief.
- Mindfulness (psychology) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
I know, I know, it's a Wiki page and the content is contributed by normal people. But it has a really great definition and references, and I believe in the power of the Wiki.