To help you keep calm over Christmas and into the New Year, my next few blog posts will be about Mindfulness – bringing greater awareness to what you think, feel and do, in order achieve greater resilience to life’s challenges and to live more fully. It is a powerful antidote to stress, anxiety, unhappiness and exhaustion, but it is not a quick fix and needs to be practised daily over several weeks to feel the benefit. Ultimately, it is a lifetime’s work.
This week’s post will focus on becoming aware of daily activities that we tend to do automatically without giving them much attention, such as eating, drinking, showering, dressing, driving – you get the picture. The chocolate meditation is a good introduction to this. It works best if you use a good quality dark chocolate, so treat yourself! The meditation also works well with a raisin if you prefer that, or it could be adapted for use with another food of your choice.
The chocolate meditation:
- Put a small piece of the chocolate on a plate and really look it: the colour, any pattern, its shape, the textures or anything else that you notice about it.
- Then smell the chocolate and take in all the aromas.
- Now put it in your mouth and let it just sit on your tongue, don’t chew or swallow it.
- Notice all the different tastes from that one piece of chocolate.
- Notice how it feels sitting on your tongue.
- Notice the automatic reactions that you may be having to suppress to keep it there.
- You will no doubt be salivating and will need to swallow, but keep the chocolate in your mouth for as long as possible, noticing how the tastes and sensations change.
- Really listen as you swallow.
- Once the chocolate has dissolved away, reflect on how that experience differed from how you usually eat chocolate.
- Try it again with another piece…
How much richer would your life be if you approached more of it with that amount of attention? And how many unhelpful habits have you got into without realising it? Becoming aware of our thinking and doing can be liberating.
Over the next week try to spend 5-10 minutes once or twice a day quietly concentrating on your breathing:
- Just breathe normally.
- Be aware of your inbreath and outbreath and any pause between.
- If your mind wanders, don’t berate yourself, just acknowledge it and come back to your breathing
- Notice how the experience changes from day to day, depending on how you are feeling.
If you would like some guidance on the breathing meditation, click here.