For most of us, sitting in an empty room silently watching our breath while quieting our thoughts doesn’t have the same gravitational pull of a Twitter feed, randomly surfing the Internet or even sorting through a full email inbox.
For those wanting to regularly practice mindfulness, the greatest struggle is finding the inspiration to put our intoxicatingly busy lives on hold for even a few minutes.
When the brain is busy solving problems, getting things done or simply having fun, it doesn’t want to stop. (Learn more in 4 Methods to Mastering Your 'Monkey Mind'.)
But, chocolate may be the solution.
Over the years, the significant benefits of using chocolate for an eating meditation have become more clear.
Chocolate meditation offers many of the same benefits of mindful breath meditation with some additional benefits.
Similar to mindful breath meditation, practitioners quiet their mind and focus on a single phenomenon in the present moment, increasing their ability to manage anxiety and stress. (Learn more in How Meditation can Help Soothe Your Stress and Anxiety.)
In addition, practitioners are also able to observe their mind in action while struggling with emotions, such as frustration and anticipation.
During chocolate meditation, you have the rare opportunity to calmly sneak a peek as your mind makes meaning and handles adversity, offering new insights to better handle other struggles in your life.
Ready to Try It?
Grab a piece of wrapped chocolate (or a similar food item), and try this. (You can also follow along here.)
1. Observe your wrapped chocolate.
Pick up your wrapped piece of chocolate. Notice its color and how the light reflects off the wrapper. Notice its shape and the weight of it in your hand. Notice its scent.
2. Observe it unwrapped.
Listen to the sound as you unwrap your chocolate. Again, take note of its color, shape and scent.
Observe its texture: Is it hard or soft? Smooth or bumpy?
3. Observe your mind.
Bring the morsel toward your mouth, but don’t bite into it.
Notice how your body reacts. Do you start to salivate? Do other parts of your body anticipate the bite you’re about to take? What thoughts go through your head?
Are you excited? Impatient? Hesitant? Observe your thoughts and feelings as though you’re watching them move through your head like clouds moving across the sky. (Learn more in You Are Not Your Thoughts.)
4. Take a mindful bite.
Take a small bite and let it linger on your tongue. Slowly roll it around your mouth.
How does it taste? Is the taste different on different parts of your tongue? Is it sweet, salty, bitter, fruity or nutty?
Refrain from judging the taste as good or bad, but simply experience the various taste sensations.
Notice how the texture feels in your mouth as you slowly start chewing.
Continue mindfully eating, slowly taking bites and experiencing the aroma, the textures and the flavors.
When you’ve finished, sit for a few moments and reflect on your experience of slowly and mindfully eating the chocolate. (Learn more in Mindful Consumption for a Joyful New Year.)
Using Chocolate Meditation to Create the Mindfulness Habit
Ultimately, for those living full, active lives, mindfulness is a difficult habit to cultivate because it demands a dramatic mental shift. (Learn more in 8 In-the-Moment Techniques to Cultivate Your Mindfulness Practice.)
Many find chocolate meditation easier to practice than other forms of meditation because it’s easy to have a visual reminder -- and because it’s more fun.
Here are some tips for making chocolate meditation a regular part of your daily routine:
- Find a clear glass bowl and fill it with small wrapped chocolates suitable for meditation.
- Put the bowl on your desk, kitchen counter or somewhere where you will see it.
- Identify a time of day when you want to practice, such as your morning coffee break or after lunch, and set a practice reminder on your phone or other digital device. This reminder is essential until it becomes a “mindless” habit, which often takes three to four weeks.
- Set a timer (such as the one on your phone or a meditation app) for three to five minutes, whatever is comfortable, to practice chocolate meditation. If you have an unusually hectic day, commit to 60-seconds of chocolate meditation so that you create a strong foundation for the habit of mindfulness. You’ll see benefits from even one minute of practice.
- As the practice becomes easier, at the end of the meditation start adding a minute or more of classic breath meditation where you focus on your breath while quieting the inner chatter in your mind.
- You should start to notice an increased ability to manage stress and anxiety with minor stressors within two weeks.
(Learn more about mindfulness in The Ripple Effect of Presence: Why Mindfulness Matters.)