by Janette Grant 28th November 2017
Chocolate mindfulness…well there’s two of my favourite words in one sentence! You may have already read about the Raisin exercise on our Mindfulness exercises page. It is a simple exercise which is ideal for beginners, but let’s face it…it’s nearly xmas and wouldn’t it be more fun to try this exercise with some chocolate from a selection box, a chocolate coin or, even better, chocolate from an advent calendar? What if – instead of removing it from the day on the calendar and then just munching it away in seconds – we stop and use the opportunity to practice mindfulness whilst enjoying the little piece of chocolate holly, reindeer or star etc? I think sometimes mindfulness meditation is looked upon by some as a solemn self-discipline, but it is important to remember that mindfulness is all about compassion towards ourselves and to others and whilst chocolate mindfulness may sound a little little-hearted and frivolous, it does have a deeper value. It helps us to re-connect with our senses, something which is very important in our busy lives.
Therefore, chocolate mindfulness sounds a much better idea right? Ok…I know a raisin is much healthier, but…I’d much rather follow the idiom of ‘A little of what you fancy does you good’ ! And it is xmas after all…
So…back to our chocolate mindfulness. We should sit somewhere comfortable, allow our body to relax and feel supported. We should take note of the sounds around us – both in the room and beyond – and then gradually bring our attention to our breath.
I know…you want to get on and eat that chocolate! Well this is all about practising chocolate mindfulness, so patience please…it won’t be long now…
We are concentrating on our breathing – taking a few moments to be aware of how it feels to be here, in the present.
Now…open today’s little door on the calendar and remove our shape of the day. Hold the chocolate in our hand and notice the weight of it and the texture. Is it warm or cool, soft or hard? Notice the desire to munch it, but then gently bring our attention back to the feel of the chocolate in our hand. If our eyes are closed, open them, and look at the piece of chocolate, noticing its shape and colour and any responses you have.
Next, continue the chocolate mindfulness by bringing the chocolate to our nose and inhaling the aroma. Notice when we first smell the chocolatey scent and when we do, sit for a moment appreciating the aroma. It might be mixing with other smells we haven’t noticed before and it may have a stronger scent than we expect. Yes…I know…the urge to gobble it up is getting stronger…but just notice this and enjoy the feeling of sitting comfortably whilst taking in the smell of the chocolate.
The best bit of chocolate mindfulness is now…when we can finally eat it! Letting our attention soften, so that we still have an awareness of the feel and smell of the chocolate, we can now bring the chocolate to our mouth and take a small nibble. What does it first taste of? How does it feel on our tongue? Take note of any flavours and sensations, whether anticipated or unexpected.
Now we can put the rest of the chocolate piece in our mouth and enjoy the tastes and flavours, subtle and strong. See if we can hold the chocolate on our tongue as long as possible, letting it melt and allowing our tongue to explore its textures and tastes. Chocolate has over 300 different flavours – see how many we can sense.
So…the chocolate has gone – we must wait until tomorrow for the next piece! The chocolate may be gone, but we should still bring our attention to our senses. Notice whether there is still a residual taste in our mouth and whether the smells you notice have changed. Bring attention back to our breath and to our feelings. Rest for a moment longer, just breathing and being aware of how we are feeling. How much did we enjoy our chocolate mindfulness exercise? Do we feel any different in any way than how we felt at the start of the exercise? Is it different than normal – did the chocolate taste better than when we gobble it up in our normal way? Do we feel fuller than normal, or more satisfied?
Finally, we should bring our attention back to the rest of the room, the sounds we hear, the weight of your body on the chair ( no…just one chocolate shouldn’t have made a difference!), and our feet resting on the ground. When ready, we can slowly open our eyes and return to our day.