How Eating a Grape Can Change Your Sex Life!
Have you ever heard of ‘mindful eating’? Mindful eating is an exercise that is taught and experienced in general courses in mindfulness like the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) classes taught through universities and healthcare delivery systems throughout the country. It is the practice of being truly present and focused on eating, slowing down the process of consuming food so that you can truly taste it…pleasurably…and enjoy the sheer sensation of tasting. In one such MBSR class we were told to close our eyes and hold out our hands to receive something. The teachers passed out a single raisin to each participant and they then led us through a step-by-step process of slowly consuming the raisin. It was a rather incredible experience, but it came nowhere near to my later encounter with a grape.
As part of the MBSR class we were to spend an entire day in silence with our teachers, being led through one mindfulness-based practice after another. It was challenging to say the least, but overall quite rewarding. We were told to bring a lunch and that we would be asked to practice ‘mindful eating’ as part of the experience. So on my way to the location of the retreat I stopped off at Starbucks and got one of their cheese and fruit bistro boxes: three different cheeses, some crackers, sliced apples and some seedless red grapes. I ate slowly and mindfully, concentrating on the difference of tastes and textures of the different foods, enjoying the hell out of every bite. But it was this one grape…this one, single grape…that completely did me in!
I picked the grape up and looked at it. I took time to feel its smooth skin against my fingers, sensuously rubbing it between thumb and forefinger. I let it lay in my palm for a few moments, feeling its shiny surface against my skin. I held it up to the sun so that I could admire its rich color and the variation of texture between its stem end and the fatter, round bottom. I inhaled its scent, delicate but definitely present. I wet my lips and enjoyed how it felt being rubbed gently against them, then I let it slide between my front teeth just to get a sense of its shape as it slowly entered my mouth. Then I let it lay on my tongue for a couple of minutes, letting my tongue envelope it and allowing my taste buds to get just a hint of its flavor. Sliding it to the side of my mouth I took one small bite between my molars, tasting the juice that spurt out of it and doused the inside of my mouth with grape-ness. Then I began to chew, but very, very slowly, enjoying the varied texture of the now masticated grape, being attentive at one moment to its interior flesh and its slippery skin the next. Finally I allowed it to make its way down my throat while I closed my eyes and imagined all the glorious nutrients that this grape would give me, embracing not only the pleasure of the grape but its health benefits as well.
My mind then made a fantastic leap. The MBSR class was an elective in my pursuit of a certificate in Somatic Sex Education, and as the class progressed I was made ever more aware of the foundations of mindfulness in our work as somatic sex educators. We’re encouraged to do body scans with our clients just as we do in meditation practice at MBSR. We revere the practice of deep, belly-centered breath (just as in MBSR meditation practices) and mark the relationship between good breath and good sex. Our work is painstakingly focused, working with people to be in the ‘here and now’, to be ever mindful of their body sensations. We’re trained to help people to learn the ability to ‘read’ their bodies during sex. We take time to coach people to slow down when having sex, to take notice of their bodies and the bodies of their partners. We are also always concerned about the intentionality of touch: what does touch mean, who is this touch for, what are the boundaries of touch with this person, and have those boundaries been communicated clearly? All of it has a basis in the field of mindfulness.
Then I thought about that grape. In self pleasure, what if my approach to my body was as exacting, as focused, as mindful and as ravishing as in my experience with the grape? In shared intimate pleasure with another, what if my approach to that person’s body were just as focused on pleasurable sensation as it was on that delicious grape? Wow. Yes, my sex life can be changed by eating a grape. Or an apple. Or a slice of brie. You should try it sometime!