Conversation 4: Mindfulness & Being Present

Exercise 3: Eating a Raisin

Exercise 3Eating a Raisin – a recording of Julian McNally (8:24 min) 

(Exercise 3: Eating a Raisin by  RMIT University Counselling Service, Six ACT* Conversations, RMIT University is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) 

The third exercise is called Eating a Raisin, and you might be surprised to hear requires you to eat a raisin. So before starting the exercise, you’ll need to obtain a raisin, or if you don’t like raisins, a sultana, a dried apricot, or another small piece of fruit (but sorry, no chocolate allowed). When you have your piece of fruit, we can start.

Exercise 3: Eating a Raisin

We’ll start this exercise with your eyes open.

So take your raisin or other piece of fruit – and don’t eat it just yet!

First of all, I’d like you to take a good long look at the raisin. Hold it up to the light. See how translucent it is? Notice the changes in colour across the surface of it. See the wrinkles and folds in the skin of the raisin.

As you hold it in your hand, feel the different textures. Just hold it lightly. Roll it around between your finger and thumb, and feel the moistness or dryness of the surface. See if you can feel every little point where the raisin contacts your fingers.

Now place it in your other hand, and just feel the stickiness left behind on your fingers, and at the same time feel the weight of the raisin in your other hand.

What you’re doing is paying specific, focused attention to this particular raisin.

Now pick it up in your fingers again and slowly bring it up towards your nose. Try to find the first point where you start to notice the smell of this piece of fruit – so very slowly, and perhaps with your eyes closed.

As that smell hits your nostrils, see if you can break down the different fragrances and smells within that smell of this particular fruit. Is it sweet? Is it spicy? Is it sour-smelling? Remember, smell is about 80% of your taste, so most of the information you’re going to get in terms of taste will come before you even put the raisin in your mouth.

Okay now, perhaps we’re ready to eat.

Very slowly bring the raisin in contact with your lips. Again, feel the texture, the temperature of it, the stickiness of it.

And perhaps notice any response you might have to this. You may be salivating already. Or you may have a craving or urge to just pop the raisin in your mouth and gulp it down. If so, just be aware of that impulse, and continue to do as I say.

Now put the raisin on your tongue, and pay attention to the sudden change in sensation in your taste buds as you do that.

And bring the raisin slowly into your mouth – so now it’s completely covered in saliva and the taste is dispersing through your mouth. Notice that change? Where or when did that change in taste peak?

And move the raisin backwards and forwards on your tongue – see if there are changes in the taste you get as you do this.

Could you see that the taste buds at the front of your tongue have a different function to the ones in the middle, which have a different function to the ones at the back of your tongue? So you might get different flavours as you move the raisin around.

And after you’ve tasted all those different flavours, bring the raisin onto your teeth and take one slow, soft bite.

And again, feel the juice come out of the raisin. The different flavours that are exuded from it. Notice how, again, that taste intensifies and then gradually fades.

And now take a second bite, and again, notice any changes and notice also that you have that urge again, perhaps to keep chewing – but don’t do that just yet.

Feel if you can, where the raisin has started to break down. Perhaps there’s more than one piece there in your mouth?

Now eat the raisin slowly and consciously, taking your time to pay attention to each chew, each swallow, each movement of your tongue.

And before you finally swallow the raisin, notice the feeling of it now that it’s completely fallen apart.

And anytime now, if you wish, you can swallow the rest of that raisin, and again, notice the feeling of that going down your throat.

Notice any changes in flavour that have happened at the back of your throat. Pay attention to any changes in your tongue as you do that. And again, just see if there are any urges, cravings, desires.

Perhaps you’re even missing your raisin?

That’s the end of the eating the raisin exercise.


  • How did you find this exercise?
  • How hard was it to restrain yourself from eating faster?
  • Was it a struggle to resist urges?
  • Was it easy – or difficult – for you to focus on one tiny piece of food like that?
  • What feelings or thoughts appeared as you tried to focus on the sensation of eating?
  • What was your experience of time while you were doing this?

Many people report that when they practise everyday activities mindfully, time seems to stretch.

Think about how you eat normally in your daily life. Do you really pay attention to what you’re eating while you’re eating it? Or is it a case of get it into your body so you can get on with the next important task?

Many people spend more time enjoying the anticipation of food than they do in enjoying the actual present moment experience of it, but the goal of all these mindfulness exercises is to put you in touch with your present moment experiences rather than your anticipation of the future or your memories of the past.


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