As part of 64 Million Artists January Creative Challenge I’m sharing the raising meditation – a quick and easy way to get focus and prime your mind for creative thinking.
It’s a short meditation where we invite you to take a really long, hard look at… a raisin
Yes, really – this exercise is endorsed by the scientists at The University of Berkeley in California and This exercise is adapted from the guide.
It’s ideal for anyone who likes the idea of mindfulness but finds it tricky and struggles with the “close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing” bit.
Exploring a raisin might seem like an odd way to get your head around this, but it’s an easy, practical exercise.
First things first, find a raisin or another small foodstuff if you don’t love raisins. A biscuit or sweet. Pause this now if you need to and find one.
For the next five minutes, you’re going to study that raisin like you’ve never studied anything before.
Raisin meditation is a mindfulness exercise that requires you to focus your mind on the present moment using all your senses – what you can see, hear, smell, taste and touch. The idea is that by focusing all your attention on the tiny raisin, you help to bring your mind into the moment and train it to notice the present.
The technique sounds simple, but for a society constantly bombarded with stimulation, being still and present can be tough. This can be a valuable tool in improving our mental wellbeing and helping you notice things and make connections is valuable for our creativity.
So here we go. If you want you can listen to my recording below (go and get your foodstuff!)
How do I practise raisin meditation?
Before you begin, find a quiet spot where you can sit down and relax. You might find taking a few deep breaths will help you loosen the body and bring your mind to your practise. Once you’re comfy, pick up the raisin and hold it in your hand.
LOOK at the raisin. Really concentrate. Let your eyes roam over the fruit and pick out all the details– the colour, areas of light and shade, any ridges or shine. Before moving on, you might want to close your eyes, as this can heighten your other senses and help you focus.
TOUCH Feel its smallness in your palm. Explore the raisin’s texture with your fingers. Is the skin waxy? Are there any edges? It is soft or hard?
SMELL Bring it close to your nose and with your deep inhalations and exhalations, concentrate on any scents and fragrances you can detect. Does it smell sweet? Or perhaps earthy? Has this triggered your taste buds or made your tummy grumble?
TASTE Place it in your mouth, noticing how your hand instinctively knows where to go. Don’t chew yet, just spend some time concentrating on how the raisin feels on your tongue. Turn it over in your mouth and feel it’s texture on the roof of your mouth.
Take one or two bites into the fruit, without swallowing it yet. Fix your mind on the sensations just released into your mouth. How does it taste? How does this develop as the moments pass? How has the raisin changed? Do the smaller pieces of fruit feel different?
HEAR the sounds you make as you chew it and swallow. When you have really explored the sensation of the raisin in your mouth, notice your intention to swallow it and then follow with the physical action.
If you can, track the sensation of the raisin going into your tummy. Now take a moment to notice how your whole body feels.
When you are ready, start to awaken your mind. You might want to move the hands and feet a little, slowly open your eyes and take a few deep breaths.
With the meditation exercise now complete, you can carry on with your day when you’re ready – there’s no hurry.
It might sound slightly batty, but this exercise will totally slow everything down for five minutes and help you to narrow your focus.
Now try it!
Gather some of your team together and do it as a group (blame it on me, call it an experiment!). What do you notice? How do you think this relates to being creative?
Perhaps what will start to happen is that you make small mental connections. The texture might remind you of something; the smell or taste could take you back in time to a certain period in your life.
What we’re sure you’ll notice is just how fast the pace of life is –and how ‘tuning in’ might just help you with your creative challenges.
Filmmaker David Lynch believes in the power of meditative practices to help with creativity. He says:
“Ideas are like fish. If you want to catch little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. But if you want to catch the big fish, you’ve got to go deeper. Down deep, the fish are more powerful and more pure. They’re huge and abstract. And they’re very beautiful.”