For our first group meditation, I’ve chosen a mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation has become very popular recently due to its proven success in helping to cope with depression, anxiety and the general stresses of life. It has however been practised historically in Hinduism and Buddhism.
Mindfulness aims to bring awareness and peace to normal daily life, focusing on the present moment in order to feel joy and acceptance in even the mundane elements of life. Washing the dishes is a personal favourite ‘mindfulness moment’ of mine and I always come away with both sparkling(ish) dishes and a brighter outlook on my day.
Today however, I’ve got chocolate on my mind, so…. we’re going to be doing the chocolate meditation! (of course if you can’t eat chocolate or don’t like it just substitute it for another bite-size food)
This meditation is taken from a fantastic book called Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world by Mark Williams and Danny Penman. The book is based around the 8 week MBCT (Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy) course developed at Oxford University and is a great way to get into mindfulness meditation at a suitable pace.
If you own the book, you’ll find the exercise on pages 54-55. If not, just click on the link below to access the soundcloud audio recording from the authors. I’ve also transcribed the recording in case you prefer to read the meditation instead.
Enjoy the meditation and please please comment to share your thoughts on it. (see discussion points below if you need some direction!)
‘The Chocolate Meditation.
Again and again people tell us that mindfulness greatly enhances the joys of daily life. In practice, even the smallest of things can suddenly become captivating again. For this reason, one of our favourite practices is the chocolate meditation.
In this, you ask yourself to bring all your attention to some chocolate as you’re eating it. So if you want to do this right now, choosing some chocolate. Not unwrapping it yet, choosing a type that you’ve never tried before or one that you’ve not eaten recently. It might be dark and flavoursome, organic or fairtrade or whatever you choose. Perhaps choosing a type you wouldn’t normally eat or that you consume only rarely.
Before you unwrap the chocolate, look at the whole bar or packet. Its colour, its shape, what it feels like in your hand as if you were seeing it for the very first time. Now very slowly unwrapping the chocolate. Noticing how the wrapping feels as you unfold it.
Seeing the chocolate itself. What colours do you notice? What shapes? Inhaling the aroma of the chocolate, letting it sweep over you and now taking or breaking off a piece and looking at it as it rests on your hand. Really letting your eyes drink in what it looks like, examining every nook and cranny.
At a certain point, bringing it up to your mouth. Noticing any tendency to chew it, seeing if you can sense some of the different flavours. Really noticing these.
If you notice your mind wandering while you do this, simply noticing where it went and gently escorting it back to the present moment.
And then when the chocolate has completely melted, swallowing it very slowly and deliberately, letting it trickle down your throat.
What did you notice? If the chocolate tasted better than if you’d just eaten it at a normal pace, what do you make of that? Often we taste the first piece and perhaps the last, but the rest goes down unnoticed. We’re so often on autopilot, we can miss much of our day to day lives. Mindfulness is about bringing our awareness to the routine things in life, things that we normally take for granted.
Perhaps you could try this with any routine activity, seeing what you notice. You could change your whole day.’
Discussion Points: Did you enjoy this meditation? How did it feel? Did you try and use a similar practice in any other daily activities? Do you have any experience of mindfulness meditation? Do you think being more mindful could help you personally and how?