The 8 Week Journey to Now

Alan Green enters the world of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction to give us a firsthand account of the world's most well-known meditation program.

Illustrations by Asia Pietrzyk
WEEK 01—Raisin D’être

Introduction to mindfulness, along with the basics of the body scan meditation and mindful breathing and eating.

Eighteen adults are seated in a semi-circle, each inspecting two inky-blue raisins as if they hold the keys to the Kabbalah. The dehydrated grapes are individually ogled and caressed, passed before nostrils and pressed across lips, then crushed by molars, lashed by tongues, and finally sent southward.

Shortly thereafter the group divides into pairs, each partner recounting, in succession, their experiences: the tactile sensations and the fruits’ physical attributes, the aromas and the anticipation of eating, the squirting juice and the memories unleashed of breads or bakeries.

This exercise, we were instructed, should be done without judgment; it’s a two-minute monologue with no right or wrong observations, absorbed, in turn, without emotion or interruption. But when my cohort finishes, I sheepishly proclaim her narrative to have been the more compelling, and my rant about the unexpected seed in one raisin mortifying. What I don’t reveal is that despite being forewarned to acknowledge and dismiss distracting thoughts, I’d been fixated on the fear that my raisins, with their shriveled skins and freakish striations, were miniaturized replicas of my withering prostate, which…


Get practices, tips, and special offers delivered straight to your inbox

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
About the author

Alan Green

Alan Green is a veteran investigative reporter in Washington, D.C., whose books include Animal Underworld: Inside America's Black Market for Rare and Exotic Species. His most recent piece for Mindful in August 2017 was a firsthand account of taking part in an MSBR course.