When I am asked to do public yoga demonstrations, it can be difficult to get around the participants' preconceived ideas of yoga which often center around media images or a couple of classes they took on vacation one summer. In some cases, people are in work attire, even high heels, or a small cubicle-sized room arranged with folding chairs.
I just never can tell who or what I'll encounter when I am hired by an organization to provide a guided meditation or a short yoga sequence to their team. And because I've learned to be flexible in my expectations, I enjoy every fresh opportunity to introduce yoga and mindfulness in a fun and memorable way!
For example, when giving a presentation to the Yorba Linda Chamber of Commerce, I placed several small cups of sweet, juicy raisins on each table. After a short introduction, I told the group that an encounter with a raisin was going to explain what yoga is about. Try this at home for your own mindful, yoga moment. If you don't care for raisins, choose another dried fruit like cranberry, apple, or banana chip: anything you find in your trail mix will do. While it may be tempting to just melt a chocolate chip on your tongue, it may sound great, but trust me: it doesn't have the same effect.
The Raisin Meditation
Get a raisin. Not a handful. Just one. Sit down comfortably in a chair and get grounded by feeling your feet touching the floor, or in your shoes. Now, place the raisin in your right hand. Then put your right hand into the palm of your left hand, like a cradle. Close your eyes, and take a full breath, then release it like a sigh. Breathe slowly and fully a few more times, with no strain at all, being patient and relaxed as you exhale until you feel calm and ready to have an experience this raisin.
Smell the raisin first. Smell it's sweetness and enjoy the mild anticipation of what it will taste like, but with no urgency at all. This process is to enjoy each small part of a small morsel. Place the raisin in your mouth, but don't chew it yet. Place your hands back in your lap as you had them before, and enjoy the sweet textural exterior of the raisin's ridges. Breathe fully again, and do so from time to time as you move the raisin around in your mouth. As the outside of the raisin skin rehydrates, you wait for a good moment to make a small bite into the skin.
Still breathing, eyes closed, take your time exploring the taste and texture until it almost comes apart in your mouth. Then you are welcome to chew the raisin and swallow it. Remain seated with your eyes closed another moment and see what other sensations you notice.
Now open your eyes gently and just gaze at something pleasant like a tree, an inspirational quote, or a photo on your desk. After a few more moments of peacefulness, resume your activities for the day. Remember to take small breaks like this one when you get hurried or unfocused.
The whole point of this activity is to give you a solid opportunity to breathe deeply, relax, and have some deep listening time in your body, not thinking about other things. You just don't know how much you are not paying attention until you are in that mindful zone. With a little mindfulness each day, you can increase productivity at work, and harmony in your relationships at home. Your connections will be more meaningful, your mind clearer, and your heart lighter.
Create a little harmony by sharing this meditation with someone you care about, or suggest a yoga teacher they could learn other techniques from. They'll love you so much, and so will we!
Kristen Fewel, Yoga Educator, Reiki Master
Full Circle Yoga & Healing Arts