A lesson in mindfulness
I feel as though it was a lifetime ago that I walked expectantly into my one-hour-per-week yoga class on campus, extremely thankful it was offered. I wouldn’t have been able to take another grade school or high school PE class.
I wanted to rid myself of extra pounds. I wanted to rid myself of stress. I wanted to rid myself of guilt. I wanted to rid myself of. . . memories.
So many memories.
I believe it was the second time we met that the yoga instructor sat us down in a rather large freaking huge circle. I was curious and open-minded. She got out a box of raisins and I wondered silently, “How the hell are raisins supposed to help me lose weight and get more flexible?” While I’m still completely uncertain how raisins can do those two things for you, I do know how they can help you become a healthier and happier person.
Please allow me to share this lesson with you. And please help me remember this lesson when I’m feeling low.
The yoga instructor had us all choose a golden raisin from the box and then return, quite perplexed, back to our seats.
“I want you to close your eyes and put this raisin in your mouth. Do not chew it. Just place it there. . .” she began. “Roll it around. Feel its texture. Notice the sharp ridges and rounded sides. Feel the weight of it on your tongue.”
She spoke in a soft, slow, welcoming, and warm voice. I felt my shoulders begin to relax.
“Allow the raisin to plump in your mouth. Feel it accepting its surroundings, taking in the moisture, becoming fuller and rounder.”
I began breathing more softly.
“Slowly begin to chew the raisin. Feel the skin pop. Taste its simple but bright sweetness. Try and realize every thought, every feeling, every motion, every sensation it gives you.”
I was suddenly much more enthralled with a raisin than I’d ever been in my life. I may have been more in tune with that raisin than I had been with anything else in my life. And that was the point.
She had us slowly open our eyes and re-tune to our surroundings. I had never enjoyed a raisin so much in my life. I’d never realized so much about the tiny little fruit; nor had I ever known that there is so much to experience – just within a raisin.
The level of pleasure, enjoyment, education, and understanding about a person or situation depends upon how mindful we are of it.
When is the last time you sat to watch something on television but couldn’t remember what you watched as soon as you got up from the couch? That’s because your mind was elsewhere. I’ve had the same happen while driving to and from my daily destination. My mind starts wandering to other places and completely forgets to enjoy the current moment.
I don’t want my life to be a series of flashes and barely-memorable experiences. I want to enjoy and truly appreciate each moment as it’s given to me.
(This is with the exception, perhaps, of giving birth to Tori – I’m glad to remember her delivery but I am also thankful that I remember very, very little of the pain I breathed through while I labored.)
I want to enjoy each day for its own scenario – for that day’s extreme heat, or extreme cold, or for that day’s perfect breeze while I walk. Each song, each story, each task. . . I want to enjoy it for its own simplicity or complexity. Either way – I want to recognize it. It’s amazing that, when I slow down to recognize each moment for what it is, it usually results in me walking away with a smile on my face.