Interactive Mindfulness Activity and Reflection (IMAR): The Raisin Exercise

For this IMAR, you will need a few raisins; any color will do.

1. Place the raisins in front of you on a table or similar surface.

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2. It is helpful to walk out of the room and re-enter since this can foster a sense of newness or curiosity.

3. Approach the spot where you’d placed the tiny objects and look at them as if for the very first time. Allow yourself to feel a sense of wonder and interest while resisting the mind’s tendency to label what you are seeing.

4. Take a few moments to pay careful attention to:

o The way the your item looks

o How it feels

o How your skin responds to its manipulation

o Its smell

o Its taste

If thoughts or judgments arise during your examination, that is okay; simply notice that your mind veered and bring your awareness back to your object with fresh eyes. You may find it helpful to spend one minute on each of the five aspects noted above.

It’s useful to repeat the exercise more than once. See if you can maintain a sense of openness and curiosity throughout each step.

Focusing on a single object such as a raisin is meant to bring your mind to the present, to what is right in front of you. It also allows for the practice of fostering curiosity and openness, which are useful in suspending judgments and preconceptions.

It is nearly impossible to avoid practicing mindfulness when you follow these instructions and take notice of what is in front of you in the present moment.

Reflection:

Consider the following statement: By focusing on the raisin in your hand and making a point to notice everything about it, you are unlikely to be expending energy, time and attention on worrying or ruminating about other parts of your life.

· Describe your experiences (good or bad) with the Raisin Exercise.

· Did you notice your attention shifting away from worries or ruminations about other parts of your life as you did this activity?

· How did this activity affect your mood or emotional state? (Consider how you may have felt before, during, and immediately after completing the activity.)

· Management experts like Peter Senge and others suggest that dialogue involves balancing inquiry and advocacy. With respect to leadership of human service organizations, do you see the mindfulness activity you just completed as relevant to this statement? If so, in what way? If not, why not?

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