I just received a message that in the USA today .. it’s National Chocolate Day. Can you guess my favorite chocolate from the image above?

I am always happy to celebrate chocolate and I also love having the opportunity to share my own Chocolate Meditation .. so that we might all extract the greatest pleasure, and insight(s), when indulging in this delightful morsel (and it is best to stick to a ‘morsel’: a small piece or amount).

Eating Chocolate is one Mindfulness practice that always elicits a giggle and a look of disbelief in class .. how can eating chocolate be a meditation?

Eating can become a mindfulness practice when we pay attention to the true and complete act of eating .. becoming a captivated witness to the full range of tastes, textures, smells, movement, colour and design of our food, including our presence to the meal, our body and mind’s involvement in the meal .. the full experience of the body eating.

When we are totally engaged in any activity, without judgement or commentary .. we shift quite naturally to a deeper state of awareness and an internal sense of calmness and balance. Mindfulness opens up a whole new world of wonder!

Mindfulness of Eating is a beautiful and quite moving experience.  My introduction to this practice occurred when I attended a one day Zen Sesshin and experiencing the most beautifully presented and enjoyed group meal.  I smelt the food being prepared during a particularly long and challenging meditation session (yes, sensory distractions ) and when finally instructed to attend the table for our meal (taken in silence ) I watched mesmerized as these gorgeous, visually exquisite and delicious smelling plates of goodness began arriving at our table.  I recall a sacredness in that silent meal; without the usual home chatter and noise that accompanies every meal ..

.. instead each mouthful was an invitation to be present

We are surrounded by flavours, textures, aromas and appealing colours and designs in food, however we very rarely take the time to notice. We tend to rush quickly through the purchase and devouring of our food, forgetting or simply not noticing that we have this opportunity to slow down and enjoy each and every mouthful in the moment – and, this is what life is all about!

Chocolate (of course) makes this experience just a little more fun .. a little more indulgent.  The most common thing I hear after our Mindfulness of Eating (Chocolate) practice .. is how amazing and mind-blowing a small square of chocolate can be .. and, how satisfying and intense the experience.

Chocolate (Mindful Eating) Meditation

* Close your eyes. Check your posture. Take a few longer, slower and deeper breaths
* Spend a few moments just paying attention to your breath, settling the body and the mind
* When ready, observe the object of your attention (could be any food or meal) just taking in all the details, the appearance, the smell .. examining like a child might, entranced!
*Spend time smelling and touching the item .. can you notice any affects on the body as you do so?
* Check in with your heart also, what do you desire to do right now? Are you hungry, bored, thankful?
* Reflect and consider all the people and processes involved in bringing this item to you .. the sun, wind and rain, the labour, care and attention. Notice how your mind feels in this moment when you are just waiting to eat the item.
* Close your eyes and move the item towards your mouth .. try running it across your lips just smelling the food .. can you notice your mouth watering in anticipation?
* Taste the item but refrain from chewing or digesting. Allow precious moments for savoring, for exploring and engaging with the food in your mouth
* When you start to chew, know that you are chewing, each and every micro movement and what you are thinking about at that moment
* Check until the item has disappeared. Notice when the flavor in the mouth changes, don’t swallow for a moment.. just pause here
* Can you be aware of the process of swallowing, mindfully observing the decision to swallow and the act of swallowing
* Now relax. Rest with the flavor as it fades. How do you feel when the flavor is gone?

And be grateful for the opportunity to enjoy this piece of chocolate for the sweet joy that it has brought and for the lesson in being mindful.