What follows are excerpts from my student’s reactions to an orange meditation activity I did with them and discussions on mindfulness and happiness.
Excerpts from Student Responses to the Orange Meditation & Mindfulness
At first I wasn’t exactly sure why we were to put so much thought into just an orange. Plainly there were the orange pickers, the sellers, and the market owners in line of the process of selling the oranges. However, when reminded of the poem that we read in class about how in order for this paper to have been made, a rainfall would have had to happen for the tree to grow and etc. I was then able to concentrate on the deeper meaning of the activity which was to get out of the trance of thinking that the orange is a simple matter, and should have been in my hands without the efforts and the natural process of a thousand events. Before the orange pickers, or even the farmers who planted the orange tree, the Earth had to exist. It may sound like an exaggeration to think about the pre-historic times just for an orange to have happened. But like all humans, and the current existence of you, me, and us, an orange took just as much amount of process. In conclusion, I learned that we shouldn’t take everything for granted but actually think about how it came to be and how much effort or time was put into just one simple existence and be thankful, thoughtful, and simply more aware of my surroundings. – Yeon Ju (Grade 9)

We all ate oranges mindfully. We thought about the orange very precisely. Where did it come from? How did it get here? What did the seed go through to become an orange. This really made me think more about the orange and realize its significance. – Gautam (Grade 9)

When we eat food at home we don’t think of what people went through just so we could enjoy our food. The process of when we started eating the orange I was actually thinking about what people did and for the first time in my life I felt as though I was thanking people I don’t even know. This helped me realize how fortunate I am. It also made me think how everything we eat and drink starts off as such a little thing and that we are dependent on other people in order to get our supply of food. – Akash (Grade 9)

I think mindfulness is very important to life, not just religiously, but in general. When one is aware of his or her surroundings, and pays attention to every little taste, smell, sight, and sound, life becomes a lot more enjoyable. The orange, for example, can be a whole experience, not just a snack, if a person takes the time to smell it, feel it, and get each texture and taste out of every mouthful. There were a lot of sounds and smells one wouldn’t notice if her or she didn’t take the time to stop and just sit quietly, observing and being aware. – Nikhil (Grade 9)

Slow eating involves you to think about the food such as people who bought it, grew it, moved them to stores etc. When we did that activity with the orange, I began to realize that there are a lot of things involved in that orange in order to grow. There is rain and sun involved in terms of nature, also people who grew it, and the meal they had to eat in order to work and people who moved them to stores. If we think about it deeply there is an almost infinity of things involved. – Kyu Min (Grade 9)

I think mindfulness means awareness. Awareness and thinking of everything that surrounds us. To understand this, we all got an orange and had to think of how it got in our hands, of all the people who worked for it to grow. We talked about how we didn’t take enough time to eat and think about all these people which are involved in it, which I think is true, we do not take enough time to savor the things we eat nor think about the work of others to make all this possible, we should be more aware of all this. – Mathis (Grade 9)

Happiness is cultivated by tackling the minute challenges during the day with mindfulness and without being burdened. I think that happiness, to a large extent, can be cultivated by one’s attitude in searching for it instead of dwelling on problems. It is a matter of resilience of the mind and the heart. I want to to continue to find reasons daily to be mindful, grateful, and happy in order to create a pattern of happiness that will lessen any obstacles such as anger, stress, materialism, jealousy, insecurity, and pessimism in my life. – Mary (Grade 12)