Mindfulness meditation is often seen as an austere practice (possibly because of all those monks getting up at 4 am and meditating before breakfast). While simplicity has its place, it also pays to remember that Mindfulness is first and foremost about compassion towards yourself and to others. Enforced austerity should play no part in the practice at all.
Given that today is the first ever ‘Mindfulness Day' we decided to try and tackle head-on the image of meditation as being purely about simplicity and austerity by encouraging everyone to meditate while eating a bar of chocolate. Yes, that's right, you can meditate whilst eating a candy bar.
I always remind myself of this when the chocolate cravings kick in. And today was one of those day's where I just needed some chocolate. But rather than gobbling it down, I thought I'd run through our ‘Chocolate Meditation'.
At first glance the Chocolate Meditation sounds a little frivolous and self-indulgent. While it is certainly enjoyable, it also has a deeper value. It helps you reconnect with your senses, which is of vital importance in our fast-paced and frantic world. Connecting with your senses is one of the core benefits of Mindfulness meditation so anything that aids this process is of immense value.
The chocolate meditation
Choose some chocolate - either a type that you've never tried before or one that you have not eaten recently. It might be dark and flavoursome, organic or fair-trade or, perhaps, cheap and trashy. The important thing is to choose a type you wouldn't normally eat or that you consume only rarely. Here goes:
• Open the packet. Inhale the aroma. Let it sweep over you.
• Break off a piece and look at it. Really let your eyes drink in what it looks like, examining every nook and cranny.
• Pop it in your mouth. See if it's possible to hold it on your tongue and let it melt, noticing any tendency to suck at it. Chocolate has over 300 different flavours. See if you can sense some of them.
• If you notice your mind wandering while you do this, simply notice where it went, then gently escort it back to the present moment.
• After the chocolate has completely melted, swallow it very slowly and deliberately. Let it trickle down your throat.
• Repeat this with one other piece.
How do you feel? Is it different from normal? Did the chocolate taste better than if you'd just eaten it at a normal breakneck pace? Do you feel fuller that normal, more satisfied?
Mindfulness: An Eight Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World' by Mark Williams and Danny Penman is published by Rodale.
For further information you can visit the Frantic World website.