Have you ever listened to a raisin?
I have read and heard so much about mindfulness over the last couple of years that I decided to look into it. I found a taster session in my area and went along to investigate...
The evening kicked off with the group sitting in silence for two minutes. The instructor asked us to feed back to her what had been in our minds during those (what seemed like a very long) two minutes. Responses ranged from worrying about work deadlines to childhood memories to weekend plans. The teacher then defined mindfulness as “the complete opposite of mindlessness” - mindlessness being the aimless roaming of the mind, as we had experienced during those two minutes.
The next hour and a half saw me complete a 10-minute meditative body scan, grasp a light understanding of the theory behind the practice, and listen (yes – actually listen!) to a raisin held up to my ear squeezed gently between my thumb and forefinger; the point of the latter being to train the mind and senses on something as small and insignificant as a raisin so as to distract from the auto-pilot state of mindlessness.
When I considered some of my learnings from the event, I came up with the following:
- Our minds are as important as our bodies when it comes to health. While we’ll readily invest time and money in physical exercise and healthy eating to look after our bodies, what do we do to keep our minds in shape? Perhaps it’s time for a few “mind superfoods” and “mental workouts”?
- We are the only ones who can control how we respond in a situation. Using our minds to overcome feelings seems like an impossible task, but it does work, and means we waste less energy on negative behaviour.
- We do have the power to say “no” to ourselves. It takes training and practice, (and probably a few more meditative body scans if we’re going to do it properly!) but we can tell unhelpful thoughts and memories to disappear while we focus on the job or conversation at hand.
I have already seen a small difference in my thoughts and behaviour since attending the session – in my interactions with others and in the way I actively stop unruly thoughts hindering my concentration. I would thoroughly recommend a mindfulness workshop to anyone who has the opportunity to attend. If you go, let me know what your raisin sounds like!