The holiday season from November through New Year's is for many people a challenging time, to say the least. So for our December ritual salon I envisioned a simple mindfulness meditation exploring five senses. I wanted to do something that would help us center ourselves and become present as an antidote to the frenzy and scramble of the season.
We began with our usual opening of calling in the directions. To help further bring us into the moment and to engage the first sense, I used my crystal singing bowl for a meditation on hearing. We followed the "singing" as I varied tapping the bowl, resonating the rim, and changing the volume. We then sat in silence for 1 minute.
We used our chosen fruit when we moved on to seeing – gazing at it, noticing the varying shades, structure, texture, everything we could about our fruit. We finished with a minute of closed eyes.
Keeping our eyes closed, we moved on to touch. We focused our attention on physical contact with our fruit - touching it with our hands, rubbing it across a cheek or the back of our hands or arm. Then we sat still for 1 minute with eyes closed and palms facing up in our lap.
We next explored our fruit through smell. When possible, we compared the outer fragrance of our fruit with the fragrance of its inside parts, noticing subtle differences we might not have perceived before. We ended with a minute of breathing through our mouths to rest our sense of smell.
And finally we ventured into taste - slowly and deliberately eating our fruit, always coming back to focus on just the taste. At the end, everyone was given some water to cleanse the mouth for our resting minute.
Simple, easy, and all of 15 minutes with nothing but a piece of fruit (and a crystal singing bowl.) But the sound part could be done with the fruit also — as it is peeled or when a bite is taken. Or simply listening to it — does a piece of fruit have sound? That's something to explore on your own.
In the discussion that followed, some interesting things came up. Some admitted that although they had brought their favorite fruit, they had forgotten why it was their favorite and this ritual allowed them to reconnect with the qualities that made it a favorite. Others mentioned how interesting the sight meditation was; for example, they had never before seen the many shades of color on an apple. Many commented on how the taste meditation was challenging because it incorporated other senses — the noticing of the texture of the food as you chew, the sound of taking a bite, how it felt against the teeth. So they had to remind themselves to keep coming back to just noticing the taste. Overall everyone said how grounded and present the experience made them feel.
This could all be done in one mindful eating meditation. How often do you really take the time to truly eat without doing anything else like reading, or watching TV, or carrying on a conversation? How often do you really just let your food take center stage and captivate all your senses? Try it for just five minutes during your next meal and see if it doesn't blow your mind while also bringing you a sense of peace and presence.