Why do the exercise?
The raisin exercise is what is known as a ‘grounding’ exercise. Grounding exercises help you to be fully aware and present in your body, and in the current moment. When our brains experience a threat, it affects our nervous system in the same way, whether it is perceived or ‘real’. Our body goes into high alert, preparing to either escape, fight or hide (freeze). When we force our consciousness to stay grounded in the present, it can help calm the body’s initial fear response. Our body then signals to our nervous system, and our brain, that there is no real threat present, which helps reduce the feeling of anxiety. In summary, grounding techniques – like the raisin exercise can help us regulate our natural “fight, flight or freeze” instinct.
How to do the exercise
Start by finding a place where you can stand or sit comfortably for the duration of the exercise. You will also need a raisin. If you do not have a raisin, you can use something else. The most important thing is that it is something that you can feel, smell and taste. An alternative could be an apple. If you feel yourself getting distracted during the exercise, try to let the thoughts or feelings that you notice slip past you, and then turn your attention back to the raisin.
1. Take the raisin and place it in your hand. Inspect it closely, and try to pay attention to as many details as you can. For example, you can make note of the color, shape and wrinkles of the raisin. Feel free to turn the raisin in your hand, so that you get a thorough look at it from all angles.
2. Once you have taken a close look at the raisin, start turning your attention to how the raisin feels in your hand. Is it soft or hard? Is it sticky or dry? and so on.
3. Once you have spent some time feeling the raisin with your hands, lift the raisin up to your nose and smell it. Turn your attention to the scent of the raisin. You may notice that your particular raisin doesn’t really have a scent – but if that’s the case, then you simply make a note of that and move on.
4. After you have thoroughly looked at, felt and smelled the raisin, put the raisin in your mouth, but without chewing on it. Instead, try noticing how the raisin feels now that it’s in your mouth. You can also move it around in your mouth with your tongue.
5. Now you can start chewing the raisin. Try to chew slowly and notice what happens as you eat the raisin. What is the consistency like? Does it change as you chew? How does it taste? Do you start salivating
6. When you have finished chewing the raisin, try to notice how it feels to swallow it as well.