This is a guest post from Toby Morris, who led the group at WiG in a Zen Game a few weeks ago:
I’ve been taking my practice “off the cushion” a lot these days. And maybe because I work in the field of nutrition, and just love food (and now that I’m pregnant I really love food), I think eating is the perfect opportunity to practice mindfulness. Mindful eating is in the media spotlight these days, the subject of many books by authors such as Jan Chozen Bays and Thich Nhat Hanh, even garnering attention from Oprah.
At Wind in Grass a couple weeks ago, we decided to get in on the action. We tried a simple experiment: we payed attention to eating a raisin. Quietly, we held a single raisin in our fingers, we examined it, we smelled it, we even listened to it. We placed the raisin in our mouth and felt its peculiar texture. We bit into the raisin, chewing slowly, noticing its flavors. And then we swallowed the raisin, feeling it move down our throats and disappear into our stomachs. We did this with a second raisin and noticed how the experience was different that the first. We expanded our awareness beyond our physical selves to appreciate all that went into growing, harvesting, and preparing this raisin for us to eat. Finally, we were offered a choice to eat the third raisin or not; some of us did and some of us didn’t.
The group shared their thoughts:
Several people noted how different this was from how they normally eat raisins—by the handful.
A felt a flashback to childhood.
B was a little annoyed by having to eat so slowly and admitted he swallowed the raisin without thinking.
C liked the burst of the skin and flavor in her mouth.
D was shocked to notice the automaticity with which he wanted to eat the third raisin—is this how he always eats? In the same way he compulsively checks the baseball score when a challenging work task lingers.
For E, the raisin solidified the koan we’ve been working with around Buddha and the body.
Such amazing things from three little raisins!
[Thanks Toby- it was a great game and a great time]
“A Course on Koans” is the delusion-riddled work of Chris Kufu (“Wind in the Void”) Wilson, who began practicing Zen in 1967. He regards Taizan Maezumi, Robert Aitken, and David Weinstein as his root teachers. Each of them pecked at his shell until he “completed” the never-ending koan curriculum of the Harada-Yasutani lineage.
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