Mindfulness Chocolate Challenge!

Mindfulness is a type of meditation which focuses on the awareness of what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment. It is free from interpretation and judgment of your own thoughts and feelings. Practicing mindfulness helps to relax the body and mind, as well helping to reduce stress levels. Today I am sharing with you a guided mindfulness activity. This was one of the very first things I did when I began studying for my Psychology degree, so it’s super beginner friendly if you haven’t tried mindfulness before. All you need for this activity is 5 minutes, 1 chocolate (or a raisin), and a pen and paper (or your phone will do).

The below activity was sourced from Duke Intergative Medicine. My personal choice for this exercise is a small Celebrations sized Malteser chocolate! Ready to begin? Find a comfortable and quiet spot and get your chocolate at the ready…

  • First, unwrap the chocolate, take it out of it’s wrapper(if it has one), and hold it between your index finger and thumb. Focus solely on the chocolate and try to imagine that this is the very first time you have ever seen this food.
  • Take some time to examine it carefully. Really look at it. Give it your full attention.
  • Allow your eyes to wonder across the chocolate, focusing on it’s shape. Are there any different colours? What does it’s surface feel like?
  • Examine it’s texture and note if there is any light shining on it, or if there are any shadows.
  • Begin to turn the chocolate between your finger tips, and continue to focus on it’s texture.
  • Apply a very small amount of pressure to the chocolate – is it soft or is it hard? Feel free to close your eyes if that allows you to really focus on how the chocolate feels between your fingers.
  • Recognize this is as chocolate. What thoughts do you have about this chocolate, if any? Are there any specific memories that come to mind? Do you like or dislike them?
  • Now hold the chocolate under your nose, and take a few natural breaths in. With each inhale, notice how the chocolate smells.
  • Continue to breathe the chocolate in and out, but now turn your attention to the effect this has had on your mouth and your stomach.
  • Slowly bring the chocolate close to your mouth. Notice if you have begun to salivate, as your body and mind prepares itself for eating.
  • Next without chewing, place the chocolate gently into your mouth.
  • Over the next 10 seconds or so, feel the chocolate with your tongue and become aware of the sensations of having it there.
  • Take a moment to become aware of this deliberate pause. How does it feel to take some time before eating this piece of chocolate?
  • When you are ready, prepare to chew. Take one or two bites into it without swallowing, and notice what happens when you do so. Bring your full attention to the chocolate’s taste and texture as you continue chewing. How does the chocolate’s taste and texture change in your mouth?
  • When you feel ready to, swallow the rest of the chocolate, focusing as you do so as it travels down to your stomach.

How does your whole body feel after completing this exercise? Take a few moments to write down any reflections and answers you may have to the following questions:

  1. Was there anything that surprised you during this exercise?
  2. What did you notice about the chocolate in relation to sight, touch, sound, smell, and taste?
  3. Did you have any thoughts or memories that you recalled during this exercise? If so, what were they?
  4. What is one takeaway from this exercise that you will try to apply to your future eating habits?

I hope that you enjoyed this mindfulness eating exercise! Redoing this activity reminded me how I used to take a moment on my commute to practice mindfulness. This helped set me up for the day ahead, as well a block out any possible annoying commuters…! If anyone has any other activities that you find useful, please do share them in the comments with me.

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So far in 2018…

Happy Sunday everyone! It has officially been 2018 for 7 days and what a week it’s been. Donald Trump is in the news again for more altercations with ‘losers’ and just about everything that seems to be irrelevant to the political affairs of America. The UK has been battling stormy weather, Hollywood is getting ready for the Golden Globes, Crypto currencies are on the rise and gaining more media attention and our worst fears were confirmed. Game of Thrones will officially not be aired until 2019.

With all this noise in the world, I feel like Sunday is a good time to check in with myself and see how I am getting on with the little things. I can take comfort in that it is less dramatic than Trump’s “fictitious book” by that fraud.

This week I have managed to drink more water- carrying a 1.5 litre of water definitely helps. I have read my book nearly every day- something which really has helped me to wind down before I go to sleep.  I have also blogged daily which I am super happy about. Overall since 29th December I have posted 10 days in a row. Even more satisfying! To you, these may be small and insignificant achievements, but for me this is the creation of healthier habits. So what did I do differently? I decided to A) Put some effort in! B) Manage my time better.

I have been watching TV less, trying not to procrastinate and make both a mental and physical list of what I want to achieve today. To tell you the truth, it’s quite hard to be consistent. There I said it. Life makes it difficult enough to set out completing the tasks we want to do, both at work or at home due to natural daily disruptions, deadlines, social meetings, kids, health problems, travel- the list continues! So I am trying to improve the things I do have control of.

I feel that it’s important to reflect upon the last week. Whether that is a quiet reflection to yourself, talking about it with friends, complaining to family or writing in a diary. Whatever it is, evaluating what we did this last week we can get a potential representative of how this year could pan out. For example let’s say that I really wanted to reach my 10,000 steps daily but every day this week I stayed slumped at my desk in my lunch hour, to then drive to my car, to then sit on my sofa. If I am being honest with myself I can see that I won’t be changing my habits at all next week, if I carry on doing what I did this week of course. Then before you know it, it’s November and I’m thinking, maybe next year I will move more. You following me? So as I try to form new habits, I will reflect weekly on what I did do and learn from it. I often look at people I admire and think how on earth do they do it all? It must be that unless you have a team and your own PA you probably can’t. But realistically we all have 24 hours in the day and in some ways you can achieve just as much as Beyoncé, Joe Bloggs or Princess Consuela Banana Hammock. CAUTION: Just don’t try shaking your booty like Beyoncé you may throw your back out.

Before you all think I am mad because you know that it is human nature to sometimes plainly not be bothered to go for that walk, cook that vegan recipe, go to the gym, wake up earlier etc. I will level with you as I am sure that will happen inevitability this year. What did help me to dedicate more time to my blog, was when I had my time off from work over Christmas. Before you think I am implying that you need time off to make some changes, my week off was far from plain sailing and sleeping in every day (you can read about what happened in my post  What’s Been Going On) ; the only thing that really changed  was my mindset. Okay, I was less physically tired having not been at work all day, but I was inspired to make the most of my time and get out of my own way! Maybe it was a small almost quarter life crisis, (just less dramatic or pronounced). But a lightbulb switched on where I was like, “I am going to start actually trying to do the things I always say I want to do”. Simple as that- the tricky part is putting it into practice.

Now I am back at work I am in the swing of it and am definitely trying to make new habits. Rather than being lazy and ‘relaxing’ with mindless TV* I am putting more effort into my hobbies which will benefit me. (* I will try to save it for the weekends or on sick days!) So this week , I am going to add another challenge… To incorporate some exercise into my weekly routine. Challenge? That’s not a challenge you say! It is the mental motivation of actually getting on with the 5k or the swim at the gym consistently is the hardest part and this week I shall try to jump over this hurdle. Let’s see how it goes.

To finish today’s post and musings I am going to try to preemptively beat the Monday blues with this thought that I saw on fitness mogul Kayla Itsines Instagram:

 

Have a good week everyone!