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What Is There to Be Conscious of?

We at Brooks love the French question “Qu’est-ce que c’est”?—English, “What is this?”--but more literally, What is this that this is?

The last post suggested that you spend a few moments "contemplating" something chosen at random from the refrigerator and then eating it. Do that again today, and this time consider it

with these questions in mind:

  • How do you feel about what you have chosen? Any emotion at all?

  • If you find yourself feeling foolish at this point or wanting to make a wisecrack, go ahead. That may be an important part of yourself to put into this. Just don’t stop there. That’s not all of you.

  • What strikes you first about the thing you have chosen? Its color? Its shape? Do you think to weigh it in your hand, to run your fingertips over it, feel its texture? Its temperature? Can you smell it? How close does it have to be to your nose before you can smell it?

  • Do you wonder where it came from, where it has been before this moment. Can you feel the mystery involved in the intersection—in this moment--of all the places you have been before (in all your life!) with all the places where this thing has been before? (And of the intersection of your life with all the lives that had to do with this thing before it came to you?)

  • Turn it various ways so that you see it from various angles. Let the light catch it in different ways. Close your eyes and see how well you can remember how it looks in your mind’s eye.

  • What if you didn’t “know” what this thing was “for”? What would you make of it then?

  • If it’s something that was once alive and growing, can you picture it that way—standing alive somewhere in the sun in a garden or field or pasture, or on a tree in an orchard? Can you picture someone caring for it, harvesting it?

  • If it’s man-made, do you wonder (or think you know) how it was made? What previous setting for it do you picture? A dairy? A factory? What?

  • Do you know what vitamins. minerals, carbohydrates, fats, proteins are stored up in it? What they will do for you? Do you have any feel for how many calories it will give your body to burn?

  • Do you marvel at the processes by which those nutrients came to be stored up the form you now have in your hand or before your eyes? At the process by which your body will "unpack" these same nutrients in order to use them?--all without any effort on your part?

  • If what you have been contemplating is a fruit or a vegetable, what color is it? Do you marvel at how or why that color came about, from the sunlight, soil, and water that went into the plant it came from?

  • Cut or tear or squeeze what you have chosen, or bite off a piece of it. If what you have was once a living thing—some kind of green, for instance, or a fruit--does it still have any feel of life about it? If so, do you find it at all strange to be doing such violence to it?

  • Bring it to your mouth and taste or chew it. . Over a few seconds of time, how many nuances or stages of texture and flavor do you notice? What are they? (Eat another piece and see if your experience is any more complex or different. What do notice inside your mouth? What are your teeth doing? Your tongue?)

  • What is swallowing like and what is it like after swallowing?

What emotion do you feel now toward what you have been spending these minutes with? Is your emotion changed from what it was in the beginning?

What thoughts are in your mind?

How "present" and "in the now" were you as you considered these various questions?

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