Last weekend I attended a formation workshop on "Mindfulness" with Simona, Kathy, Sr. Helen, and Sr. Mary. How mindful are we? Well on a mindLESS scale from 1-35 I scored a 22, but in my defense average is 17--and really my score was skewed by my love of day dreaming. As far as most things were concerned I tended toward a lower score of mindlessness.
We spent a good deal of time during the workshop experiencing intentional mindfulness. We closed our eyes to observe the sounds that surrounded us, while being encouraged not to pay attention to them but simply to note them and move on. The sister running the workshop made a distinction between observing and describing. To say someone looks angry is a judgement, to observe is to say a person's eye brows are furrowed, their mouth is turned down, and their eyes are squinting. Who knew we judged so much! In fact it was suggested that we use a pedometer of judgement per say--a counter to figure out the number of times we make judgements throughout our day. I have not yet agreed to try this . . . maybe I'm afraid of the results!
And so, we return to the sound of the raisin. As a final activity we were given a raisin and were asked to place it in our hand to observe it. The activity included smelling, and tasting, and yes, "listening" to the raisin. Believe it or not, if you put a raisin to your ear and roll it around between your finger and thumb you can indeed hear a prominent, squishy sound. WHO KNEW?! Raisins actually make sounds!
Of course when asked to reflect upon the experience I could not help but suggest, as a non-raisin lover, that M&M's would have been a much sweeter experience! But nonetheless I do have to admit, as bizarre as this activity was, and as difficult as it was to stifle the mocking laughter I felt bubbling up inside, there is a reality that was brought to light for me. If I have gone 27 years without ever hearing a raisin, how many things am I missing in my life? How often do I miss what is right in front of me, things that are seemingly simply, and yet have a depth to them that I have obliviously ignored my entire life? This call to be more mindful starts with giving things time. It took about five minutes to eat that one raisin . . . I have to ask myself if I am willing to take the time to experience other things at that depth. This may be the challenge for us all.
So, be honest, have you fetched yourself a raisin yet?