As amazing it is to be living in a time where we can actually say this, we are all pretty sick and tired of hearing about the benefits of mindfulness and meditation. We've all heard the yada yada of how good it is for stress, anxiety, depression as well as for helping us develop a general feeling of contentment and gratitude.
But, to stray a little off the beaten-path, let's quickly check out 3 benefits of mindful meditation that are less talked about and then find out exactly how a single strawberry can change our entire life. Ready?!?
Benefits Of Mindfulness & Mindful Meditation
1. At its core, meditation is about teaching us to create space between our thoughts and our actions, or, to be more accurate, between our thoughts and our reactions. It's difficult to appreciate just how much of every aspect of our life - our thoughts, our actions, our emotions, our beliefs - are on complete and total auto-pilot until you can experience what it looks like from the other side. Essentially, since Matrix references are all the rage right now, meditation is like the Morpheus to our Neo; without his/its guidance, not only would we never escape our all-encompassing prison, but we'd never even know we were trapped inside one! As the famed psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl so wisely said:
2. A mindful meditation practice will help you appreciate the "little things" in life that are, in fact, not even remotely "little". These supposedly "little" parts of our lives are actually composed of, oh you know, just the sounds you hear, the aromas you smell, and, as we'll soon discover, the things you taste. I don't know about you, but none of these "things" seems very "little" at all. In fact, it sort of sounds like the entire makeup of the human experience, right?
3. Lastly, and definitely most importantly, meditation will enable you to truly see once and for all that your thoughts are not you! Your thoughts do not control you, your thoughts do not dictate what you do, and your thoughts absolutely do not determine what kind of person you get to be! Or, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that your thoughts don't have to dictate the person you get to be. Because, if you allow them to, they will! And more likely than not, they will make you miserable your entire life. You can take that promise to the bank!
With that said, mindfulness is one of those things that will forever be devoid of any real meaning until YOU experience it for yourself. So let's get to it, shall we?
Mindful Eating Meditation
Get yourself an item of food to work with. Generally this exercise is done with a raisin, but in my opinion the experience is much more magnified with a more succulent food like a strawberry (or a peach!). However, any small piece of food will do. “Real” foods (fruits, veggies, nuts etc) are preferred but if you must practice with Cheetos or even a stick of gum, that'll work too! Whatever it takes!
So go on and grab something. Seriously, go. Don't just skim over think and think that just by reading it you'll “get the idea, man”.
Uh, it's like, no dude, you won't! That's, like, the whole point...man. It's not an idea, it's an experience!
Besides, it's so easy to do and so incredibly worthwhile so even if you generally tell these articles to go f themselves, decide to instead turn that middle finger towards the part of your mind that's resisting such a powerful human experience and use this opportunity to test your resolve against your own mind's will. So go on now, go get that strawberry and let's get started. Go!
Minimize any distractions that may be present such as noise from an open window or the latest Mr. Robot episode playing on a loop in the background (it's OK dawg, we've all been there!), and sit upright in a comfortable position that embodies the feeling of being awake. Now gently place the strawberry in the palm of your hand and take a deep breath. Have you done it? Congratulations, you are now meditating!
Spend a moment looking at the strawberry as if you had never seen one before. Imagine how an alien would inspect it should s/he be told of its great wonders. What would s/he see? What would it be curious about? Looking at every-day objects in this way is what's known as Beginner's Eye.
Continue experiencing the strawberry in this way for a moment longer. What do you see? What colors? What shapes? What texture can you feel against your fingers?
Now take it a step further and see if you can stop "thinking" about the answers to all these questions and just experience them instead.
Spend a moment in this practice before moving on to step three.
Now that you've taken a thorough inventory of what a strawberry really looks like (sorta trippy, isn't it?), take a moment and bring it up to your nose like a world-class strawberry (or Cheetos) connoisseur. Repeat the exercise from above but shift the focus to your sense of smell, remembering to experience it all as if for the very first time.
Alright, it's time to for the big dance, mouth action! Not so fast though, slow down! Begin by placing the strawberry against your lips so that you can spend a second feeling it's texture before placing it into your mouth. Now as you begin to move it around your mouth and eventually chew, make each action as slow and deliberate as possible, really paying attention to the various sensations that are present.
Notice the texture on your tongue, the taste on the roof of your mouth, the juices and saliva turning it all into an easily digestible powerball of life-energy. But don't swallow just yet! Now's an important time to start paying attention to some of the powerful impulses our body has and begin building the muscle of intention by imposing our will over both our mind and our body. This means that when you feel the impulse to swallow whatever it is you're chewing on, spend a few seconds denying the impulse gratification before making a conscious and deliberate decision to begin to swallow while remaining aware of the sensations of the food making it's way to the back of your throat and as far down as you can track it.
Finally, return to your upright position one final time and turn your attention to all the lingering sensations in and around your mouth and throat. This time forget all the questions and instructions and just observe what is. Simply be, alone, with yourself, until it is your time to move on.
Congratulations friend, you are now officially a mindful meditator! How do you feel??
Until next time,