mindfulness workshop: grape day
And on the third day, I ate the best grape of my life.
We were sitting down, cross-legged, spines lifting up towards the sky as our sitz bones rooted down towards the earth. We just did a 45 minute sudarshan kriya session, a breathing technique that incorporates specific natural rhythms of breath which, you know, harmonize the body and mind. You sit with your eyes closed, listening to the cues "so" (inhale) and "hum" (exhale). They start rapidly picking up, to the point where you feel like you're hyperventilating. You can't open your eyes, you have no idea when it's ending, and you are entangled in this cycle of breath, prisoner to this voice recording so'ing and hum'ing, expanding your rib cage to an impossible degree --
In short, I felt like a crazy person.
The good part about kriya is there is a long relaxation period afterwards. Think savasana but BETTER. Your body is literally exhausted, and then you finally lie down, blanket over your face, lights off, and you just...be. You'd think your mind would start swirling with thoughts, but it's too tired to do so. You're supposed to be present. I usually just fall asleep.
Anyway. The grape. We just finished this kriya, and I am starving. It's Saturday, and I ate a bagel for breakfast in anticipation of being trapped without food for a long while. It was the right choice. We were finally told we would be getting lunch—I could smell the Indian food in the kitchen. We were told to hold out our hands and keep our eyes closed. Fine. The ghee, curry, and coriander is wafting into my nose. I can taste the paneer and garlic naan on my tongue. I finally hear people walking about, delivering us our food. I hold out my hungry little hands.
I feel something small and squishy. We still cannot open our eyes. I roll it around my fingers and it doesn't take long to realize what it is. A fucking grape.
Now we're allowed to look. I stare at it. For a whole minute. I've never looked at a grape that long in my life, and for some reason I feel like I'm having this oddly intimate moment with a piece of fruit I typically like better in its alcoholic form. Finally, we're allowed to put it in our mouth. But, we can't chew it. So I'm swirling this grape around my mouth, using every bit of might to not bite down. Then, we can take one bite, but we can't swallow the juice. The sweet liquid wallows under my tongue, haunting me. Now...swallow. Now, take another bite. Go slowly. Appreciate each bite, each taste, each sensation.
Now I get it. Mindfulness.
It literally takes five minutes to eat the stupid grape. And I'm loving every second of it. I get it! Be totally in the present, and focus all of your attention on the one thing!
This rounded out a lesson we were learning on Day 2 of class, when we were first introduced to the kriya breathing exercise (I was breathing way too violently through my nose and thought I was going to pass out), actually did some sun salutations, and then talked about how we spend so much time trying to change the present moment.
Instead of constantly trying to change the present moment, why not be in it? Can you actually give 100% of your self to one thing (ala grape)? Even when you're in a meeting, how many times are you half-listening while also writing emails? How many times are you talking to a friend while texting another friend? When do we ever just ride the subway, instead of ride the subway and think about the million and one things you have to do at work, wonder if you're going to exercise that day, and shit you forgot to pay rent and maybe in two years you'll get a cat and you can't wait to drink outside in the summer and maybe you'll go camping this weekend but the 4/5 will be down so it'll be annoying to get to Grand Central and..
Just try something: Try to be 100%. Try to give someone your utmost attention. Try to eat lunch outside of your desk. Go for a run, and feel your muscles move with every stride. Put your phone away when waiting on line to use the bathroom. Read the book, and actually read each word.
Eat the grape, and eat the grape.