Have you ever deseeded a pomegranate?
This might sound like a strange question at first, but allow me to elaborate and then perhaps you’ll better understand why this crown-wearing fruit is the protagonist of our story here.
A few months ago, I was rushing around the house and as I walked past the fruit basket on the coffee table, I noticed three pomegranates perched along side apples, oranges and a few kiwis. How jealous the other fruits must have been of this mystical fruit that has enjoyed regal status for millennia. Poets and physicians as well as herbalists and artists have revered the pomegranate for its beauty and healing properties, symbolising longevity, fertility and prosperity.
On this exceptionally busy day, I’m not sure why I suddenly abandoned my task and was mentally teleported to another time and place.
Maybe I needed a break. But not the artificial break I fooled myself into recently that consisted of checking emails or sliding down the dark hole of social media.
I needed to just flow freely.
To really feel present and rooted in the here and now.
I know, I whispered to myself. I’m going to peel and deseed the pomegranates.
Was I using this as a procrastination tactic? Did I just want to distract myself from the project I was working on? I’m not quite sure but whatever the reason, the next 20 minutes or so were significant enough for me to want to share the experience with you. Keep in mind, all these ideas were pieced together afterwards—at the time I was just “being,” not “thinking.”
I took the first pomegranate and skillfully carved out a round hole on top. I then cut it in two sections, revealing the plump and shiny ruby seeds all perfectly lined up and positioned in their natural case.
Is there a system to how I should do this? It doesn’t matter.
What if the seeds don’t all get extracted perfectly? It doesn’t matter.
Very little mattered actually once I got into the meditative zone of focusing entirely on this task. The sound of the TV in the background gradually faded so that I could no longer hear about some of the most devastating human atrocities of our generation.
The temperature in the room felt as right as a Mediterranean summer’s afternoon where the air is still and the atmosphere feels so warmly embracive.
I felt my heart slowing down as did my breathing. The cognitive chaos that usually controls my thoughts and actions decreased intensity, only intruding every once in while when trying to better guide my deseeding technique. My muscles were quite relaxed and the concept of time and space had very little meaning.
I briefly thought about my son’s first assembly at school, for some reason, which made me smile. Maybe they had served pomegranates after the show. Fleetingly I thought about the lovely breakfast I had enjoyed with my husband that morning. The only other sensation I remember was feeling almost hypnotized by the blood red color and scent of the pulpy seed. Nothing else.
Fast forward to today. I enjoyed the session so much that since then, I’ve made a commitment to engage in my self devised “Pomegranate Power Program” at least twice a week, no matter how busy I am. Not only do I carve out an incredible sense of being present through mindfulness(comma) but I also get to have a nutritiously delicious snack right after.
This act of quieting the mind and only focusing on what you’re doing has a number of positive effects. Of course the outcomes may vary from person to person but here are a few which we may all benefit from.
• A calmer disposition
• More focused and level headed
• Not distracted
• Not feeling fragmented and pulled into different directions
• A deeper sense of gratitude
• Greater attentional skills
• Paying more attention to people, places or objects that may have been ignored for some time
• Feeling more clear and creative
• Having more energy
• Less intense symptoms of PMS
• More patience
• Not irritated by small challenges of obstacles
Mark Robert Waldman, speaker and communication expert explains, “active meditation (such as coloring or knitting) focuses attention on simple tasks that require repetitive motion. Concentrating this way replaces negative thoughts and creates a state of peace, and many people who have a difficult time with concentrative meditation can find this easier.”
Why is it important to consciously make the effort to appreciate the present? Well, unfortunately many of us suffer from either being archeologists of the past or anxiety architects of the future or both.
So if we worry about what could have been or what might be, we miss what is.
Therefore, like many others in my field and across other philosophies, I too would like to encourage more people to sense the present, through pomegranates. I invite you to take part in our Pomegranate Program Challenge. Try the experience and if you enjoy it, take a picture of yourself with the fruit either before or after your session, upload it on Instagram with a brief description of how you felt, closing it off with #pomegranateprogram. Let’s see how many people we can inspire to join in!
Wishing you a calm and clear day.
Author: Dr. Samineh I. Shaheem
Image: Stacy Spensley at Flickr
Editor: Renée Picard