Chocolate meditation, the mindfulness exercise that helps reduce stress and anxiety
YS Life tried chocolate meditation to understand its benefits and how it works.
For those of us who have a tough time silencing our monkey minds, meditation is the pill that we are often offered. Ironically, how does one put restlessness to rest if it’s difficult to stay still even for a few seconds? In that case, mindfulness will die a slow death.
However, all hope is not lost. You could turn to chocolate to calm your mind. No, we are not kidding.
I don’t just mean chomping on chocolate to get those endorphins flowing. But eating it bit by bit, immersing all your senses to enjoy its texture and flavour. This is what chocolate meditation is all about.
Just like other kinds of meditation, chocolate meditation offers a range of benefits–from helping you focus on the present moment to reducing anxiety and stress.
YS Life tried chocolate meditation to know what the fuss is all about, and understanding its many benefits with the help of an expert.
Using chocolate for mindfulness
Cacao (Cocoa in English), the purest form of chocolate, was used as a form of meditation ever since the time of the Mayans and Aztecs. They believed that chocolate possessed magical properties and was capable of opening up the heart chakra, one of the seven energy centres in our body that helps maintain emotional balance and enhances meaningful relationships.
While the practice of chocolate meditation has been making waves globally for over a decade, it has also come to India in the last five years. However, most people practice it at home like other guided meditations.
That’s exactly what I did on the insistence of a few friends. Does it really work? Did I feel any change?
Before I let you know my verdict, here’s what Shaoli Bansal, a mindfulness expert from Mumbai, has to say. “While most individuals consider this type of meditation a ploy, it isn’t another fad. If you love chocolate (like most of us), you will enjoy this mindfulness exercise. You will probably fall in love with this practice and may want to do it often.”
How does one begin?
To start this meditation, take a piece of wrapped chocolate. Before you unwrap it, notice everything--from its colour to its shape. Does it look beautiful? Does it have a distinct scent?
“The idea is to immerse all your senses in the mindfulness practice. After taking some time to observe how it looks, listen to the sound when you unwrap the chocolate,” says Bansal.
How does the chocolate feel to touch? Is it soft or rough? Spend a few minutes doing this and move on to eating the chocolate.
Now bring the piece of chocolate close to your mouth, but don’t instantly eat it. How does chocolate make you feel? Does it produce any sensations in your body? This is before you have tasted it.
“We don’t pay attention to these aspects. That’s the beauty of the mind. Just visualising yourself eating chocolate can make you salivate even before you’ve bit into it,” explains Bansal.
You may experience a myriad of emotions at this point. Take a few moments to observe how you feel. Once you’ve spent some time, take a small bite and figure how you feel.
Chew on it slowly, roll it around your mouth and pay attention to the taste. It could be bitter, sweet, silky, nutty, or citrusy, among other flavours.
Most of us are quick to label food without even immersing ourselves in its taste. It’s important to understand its flavour and texture, and how it makes you feel.
Take bite after bite and enjoy the act of eating chocolate. Soak in the aroma and reflect on what it brought to your mind.
The benefits of chocolate meditation
Chocolate is not just a great tool for mindfulness, it also offers benefits for mental health.
“Your favourite bar of dark chocolate is packed with serotonin and other nutrients. This helps uplift your mood particularly due to the impact of neurotransmitters that helps with regulating mood,” mentions Bansal.
Moreover, dark chocolate is rich in magnesium and B vitamins. It is also filled with powerful antioxidants, the most effective being epicatechin that combats inflammation and protects any damage caused by free radicals.
All in all, you will experience both physical and emotional benefits while eating chocolate!
“Always keep a bowl of dark chocolate or even another option that you like. There’s so much joy in enjoying this sweet treat. Of course, don’t go overboard–everything is best enjoyed in moderation. But you can easily practice this meditation at least two to three times a week,” concludes Bansal.
To my surprise, the experience was quite rejuvenating. I was a little apprehensive in the beginning, but I realised how simple the practice is. In fact, chocolate meditation has helped me become more mindful while eating anything and that has helped me a great deal with digestion. Now, I no longer rush through my meals and focus on every morsel I eat. It is fascinating how one thing can lead to another!
(Feature image by Winona Laisram)
Edited by Megha Reddy