In our class, our professor has incorporated so-called “contemplative practices” into our lectures. These are short periods in class wherein we take a moment to slow down and really try to be mindful of ourselves, our surroundings, and the things we are learning. Although I was skeptical at first, I ended up being prove wrong. In particular, there is one contemplative practice that really resonated with me, and the only material it involved was a raisin.
For this practice, we were each given a single raisin to eat. Instead of devouring it immediately, per my inclination, we were asked to eat it, on the condition that we did so glacially. We were implored to slowly savor this individual raisin–
toss it around our mouths, notice its texture, and pay close attention to its taste. In our daily routines, it is easy to neglect these subtleties.
What is even easier to forget, arguably, is the process in which raisins are made. When we are given a box of raisins, we are given a sanitized product in a pretty little Sun-Maid box–the contents of which are fit for immediate consumption. Indeed, when all we have to do is go to a local supermarket to pick the raisins up, who could blame us for not thinking about the process?
In reality, the ease of access to raisins makes us neglect all the hard labor that many, many workers put into growing the eventual raisins, drying them, caring for them, and harvesting them–all the while being far underpaid and in injury-prone conditions. We neglect the inhuman, colossal machinery that is employed to these ends as well. And, we neglect all of the resources that must be poured into the operation, at the expense of the environment.
When we go about rushing through the day, moving from one to task to another, we do not take sufficient time to really think about what we eat. But, this contemplative practice made me have all too many realizations regarding raisins for my own liking. And yet, these are realizations we ought to make. So go on and engage in your own mindfulness, and go about performing a contemplative practice yourself. If nothing else, perhaps you’ll come to appreciate that tiny little raisin on your plate a little more.