The CD arrives and I am very impressed with his humility and clarity in defining the concepts, history of practice, some research details, and an impressive array of excellent benefits of meditation. The fun comes during the opening track of the second "practice" CD.
Envision me seated on my yoga mat, ready & eager to begin the MBSR process. The first exercise involves a raisin (or two). I have no raisins on hand, so I substitute craisins instead. Close enough. (Try not to read anything into the craze part!)
Kabat-Zinn's soothing voice sets up the awareness-inducing concept of perceiving the raisin/craisin with all your senses. OK, so far, so good. I gaze with intensely focused awareness at my craisin, holding it in my fingers, turning it this way and that to observe all its wrinkly parts. Then I bring it to my nose, as instructed to immerse my consiousness in the scent of my craisin, inhaling its perfume deeply in full awareness. At this point, wanting to connect with all our senses, Kabat-Zinn suggests lifting the raisin to our ears. Um, what? I don't hear any craisin voices. Thank goodness!!
Next, he exhorts us to bring the raisin/craisin toward our mouth, observing how that feels, noticing the way our bodies anticipate the food by producing saliva. OK, check, and check. I bring the craisin to slowly to my lips and gently touch it against them, feeling the craisin with my lips and then the tip of my tongue. Then I put the craisin in my mouth to feel and taste its crinkly texture, only to have him say, "Don't put the raisin in your mouth yet." I spit it out. Gee, you could have said that before the 30 second silence, I thought, a bit grumpily.
OK, now I'm contemplating a soggy, saliva-soaked but unchewed craisin in my hand, when he gives (finally) the instruction to put it in my mouth. I repeat this action. Then I am advised to chew it one, two, three, five times, which I proceed to do with total awareness of this small fruit. Now, I am chewing and chewing until there are only tiny craisin-shreds left, and finally, with great awareness, I swallow the craisin and feel it travel down my esophagas, reaching the stomach. He says, "Don't swallow the raisin yet." Akk! (I have to say here that either his timing or mine are really off here!)
Now I sit on my yoga mat pondering the already-swallowed-craisin dilemma. I can't un-swallow it. Well, I could, but that would be beyond gross and disgusting and I won't go there. My solution: get another craisin and start over. I do this, sighing gratefully, that my awareness of the craisin has been only marginally disturbed by this little overly-anticipatory act. I do NOT beat myself up for messing up my first attempt at mindfulness meditation on fruit. Nope, I don't. I just continue on, doing some of those deep breaths that are supposed to calm you. Deeeeeeeeep Breath!
But now, the phenomenon of monkey mind has been awakened and is swinging out of control on the tree branches of my thoughts, which are admittedly scattered all over by now. OK, I'm human. And this is humorous. I start laughing out loud, after first berating the CD for having misled me on when to swallow the silly craisin.
By the time my little episode of hilarity is over, I feel that I have lost the essense of what was intended by this exercise.
The CD has moved on to the next lesson. It's easier. Watching the breath. I can do that. Can't I? He can't very well tell us to stop breathing!
I lay down on my mat and observe my breath, with only an occassional giggle bubbling up from monkey mind. Then I let the soothing voice lead me into awareness of zzzzzzzzzzzzz.......
I never said it was easy, did I? To be continued...