The raisins sitting in my sweaty palm are getting stickier by the minute. They don’t look
particularly appealing, but when instructed by my teacher, I take one in my fingers and examine
it. I notice that the raisin’s skin glistens. Looking closer, I see a small indentation where it once
hung from the vine. Eventually, I place the raisin in my mouth and roll the wrinkly little shape
over and over with my tongue, feeling its texture. After a while, I push it up against my teeth and
slice it open. Then, finally, I chew–very slowly.
Susan Stone believes that the quality of your life depends on where you focus your attention. You might not need to get a new job or move to a different city to live a better, more fulfilling life. Instead, you could pay closer attention to the here and now. “We think the more we do the better. We multitask. We plan the future and reminisce about the past, and rarely is our mind in the same place as our body,” says Stone. “So, tragically, we miss a lot of our own lives.”
Susan Stone teaches Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) classes at the University of Virginia’s Mindfulness Center, where students learn practical strategies “to be present to the present moment.” She also teaches at the Fluvanna County Correctional Facility for Women; more than 100 inmates have attended classes and Stone hopes to expand the program to include correctional officers as well.