~ Henry Miller
Some days the pace of life can get bit out of control, can’t it? With work commitments, family duties, kid’s activities, chores at home, more work, we often auto-pilot our way through the day. If we have a spare moment we keep those digital distractions right at our finger tips for a little ‘don’t-need-to-think’ down-time. If you know what I’m talking about, you’ve likely experienced the feeling of being there, but not really being there. It’s not good for us.
It’s why mindfulness matters. If you want to break that ‘tuned out’ cycle, and boost your health, happiness and social wellness, it’s essential now and again to pause, be in the moment, and savour small pleasures.
Mindfulness and meditation often get used interchangeably, and many of the articles out there talk about mindfulness meditation as one in the same, but at it’s simplest, mindfulness is a form of meditation. Mindfulness is about being present, in the moment, with whatever you’re doing. It’s about enlisting all of the senses to just notice. To just be.
It can be as simple as savouring the fragrance and taste of your morning coffee, having an undistracted conversation with someone where you’re truly present and engaged, or taking your shoes off to walk barefoot through the cool grass. And when you practice mindfulness more often, you learn to appreciate more, to manage stress better and to navigate daily highs and lows with greater ease.
In fact there are many benefits to mindfulness that enhance our physical, emotional, spiritual and social wellness, including some interesting ones worth considering. In a 2014 article on the 15 Unexpected Side-Benefits to Living in the Present Moment, author David Cain notes that through mindfulness, you can learn to manage cravings and pain, food tastes better and you eat less of it, you become more tuned-in to your emotions, he even says you become better at sex. Hmmm, might be worth a read.
So, with mindfulness on my mind, I sat down for a conversation with my friend Kim McNeil, a Certified Yoga Therapist and Meditation Expert, to talk about why mindfulness matters, and to learn how to be in the moment … with the help of wine and chocolate.
What do wine and chocolate have to do with mindfulness you ask? Well, in the busyness of the day we often eat and drink without really paying attention to the experience. How many times have you made it to the end of meal without really tasting a bite? So, Kim showed me how to do a mindful chocolate meditation to illustrate this point, and then we did the same thing with wine. Yes!
Here’s a step-by-step guide from Psychology Today, so you can try it yourself using one square of chocolate or a mini candy bar. Kim also demonstrates the process in the video below.
1. Notice the weight of a piece of chocolate in your hand. Look at it closely.
2. Observe the shape and color. Use at least three words to describe it to yourself.
3. As you unwrap it, listen closely to the crinkle of the foil or paper.
4. Bring the chocolate up to your nose, and inhale deeply. Notice what thoughts come in your mind as you do this. The smell of chocolate can bring up some powerful feelings and memories. Deeply Inhale.
5. Do any critical thoughts come up like, “I shouldn’t eat this”? If so, let the thoughts come and go as if you are letting go of a balloon.
6. Place the chocolate in your mouth. Notice the flavor, richness, and texture. Pay attention to how the sensations change as it melts and molds to your mouth.
7. Follow the sensations as the chocolate slips down your throat into your stomach.
This is how you eat chocolate mindfully, and it takes practice. Notice how different it feels to savour slowly, versus pop chocolate mindlessly into your mouth. It’s a great exercise because it’s simple, its fun (I mean who doesn’t like chocolate?) and it really does switch on your senses in a powerful way. And once those senses get practice in the present, they begin to help you become happier and healthier in all aspects of your life.
So, in what ways will you practice being in the moment this week? I’d love to hear your ideas.
Watch this week’s Work-Life Recharge to see how the exercise worked for me, and to learn more about what mindfulness can do for you. Plus, visit the new website at www.worklifeenergy.com and let me know what you think!
Michelle Cederberg, MKin, BA Psyc
Certified Speaking Professional (CSP)
Certified Exercise Physiologist (CEP)
Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC)
ORSC Trained Team Coach
Live Energetically ~ Do Work You Love ~ Get the Most Out of Life