Are you one of those people who tends to scoff a bar of chocolate and then wonder where it's gone? Or do you savour each piece, making it last, feeling satisfied and content, getting the most from every moment? If you're the latter, then congratulations, you're well on the way to mindful awareness.
If not, here's a taster of mindfulness you can try at home, or at your desk, any time you choose. This is one of my favourite exercises when I am introducing clients to the benefits of Mindfulness, because it's simple and begins the practice of focus and present moment awareness. During the exercise, just try as best as you can, to keep your focus on the chocolate... Here's how to experience a mindful moment and discover the benefits of being present.
You will need: Your choice of square of chocolate, chocolate button, Minstrel or Smartie (just one, yes!) If you don't like chocolate, simple, try substituting the chocolate with a small piece of dried fruit, or other small treat.
Spend about 20-30 seconds on each step...
1. Unwrap the wrapper, listening to the sound of the paper and slowly remove your piece of chocolate.
2. Take the chocolate in your hand and use your eyes to take in every detail of that chocolate - shape, texture, colour, any patterns. What do you see? And use sense of touch to take in the weight, the temperature and the texture. What do you find?
3. Now move the chocolate to your nose and breathe in the scent of the chocolate. What are its qualities? How do you sense the smell of the chocolate?
4. Take the chocolate to your ear and, this might seem strange, but tap the chocolate and see what noise it makes... Again, what do you notice?
5. Bring the chocolate to your lips and rest it there for a moment. What do you notice happening? What do you want to do? Do you notice any thoughts?
6. Place the chocolate in your mouth and just rest it there. What happens now? Resist the urge to chew!
7. After a short while, you can now bite into the chocolate. What do you notice? Flavour, taste, relief that you can now eat the chocolate?
8. Savour the chocolate for as long as you like and reflect on what you noticed during this exercise.
Many people say they didn't realise how much they miss when they ordinarily munch through their chocolate. If we can pay this much attention to a single piece of chocolate, think about how the magic of this mindfulness practice widens out into how much we miss in everyday life when we act on autopilot and tuck in to life, without really paying attention to what is going on around us and inside of us. Who knew there was so much to a piece of chocolate?