This might come as a surprise, but chocolate can be a wonderful tool in the practice of mindfulness. I write this post in honor of the upcoming holiday of Valentine’s Day and take the opportunity to make use of chocolate to give you an exercise in mindfulness!
Chocolate itself is proven to quiet the nerves, and through the release of dopamine, make us happy. The darker varieties are rich in polyphenols, antioxidants that fight off inflammation and help keep our immune system healthy. While we often vilify this decadent sweet, I would like to offer you the opportunity to bring it into your daily life by using it as a tool to practice mindful eating. This exercise can eventually translate over to being present in all aspects of your daily life. Follow this simple practice regularly, and soon you may surprise yourself as you become more present.
- Sit quietly and hold the wrapped chocolate in your hand. Observe its color, feel its texture, smell its aroma, look at it as if you are seeing it for the first time.
- Listen to the sounds as you remover the confection from its wrapper. What noise does the foil or paper make? Does the aroma intensify as it is brought out of its wrapper? Keep looking at its texture, its shape, and its color.
- As you bring the chocolate to your mouth, but without tasting it, notice any reactions it elicits in your body. Is your mouth watering? Is your brain switched on in anticipation? Can you imagine what it will taste like? Observe any feelings of impatience, thoughts or hesitations and just sit with them for a moment.
- Gently take a small bite into the chocolate and focus on your teeth sinking into its center. What does it feel like? As you keep the chocolate in your mouth, focus on the mouth feel, is it smooth and creamy? Is the flavor profile salty or nutty? Chew the piece slowly and keep focusing on the mouth feel and flavors. Do either change over time?
- Continue the process of taking a bite and observing, taking your time in between each morsel and losing yourself in the aroma and flavors
This is essentially a chocolate meditation that you can do every day with a small quantity of high-quality dark chocolate (70% or greater). Not only will you benefit physically from the chocolate, but you will find a great ability to be present in the moment and perhaps deal with everyday stressors in a new light!
Adapted from the book Mindfulness for Chocolate Lovers: A Lighthearted Way to Stress Less and Savor More Each Day by Diane Gehart.