Many of us encounter stress daily.
What’s considered stressful for some may not be for others.
How our bodies react to stress is different from one person to the next. And how it’s handled varies greatly. But we all get it, and it kinda sucks.
I can tell you this, stress makes me tired,and it shows all over my face. If the eyes are the window to the soul, my soul is saying “I need a nap.”
I was watching The National one morning with good’ ol Pete Mansbridge and there was a bit on meditation. I have yet to find a style of meditation that clicks for me. Or the patience. The story was on meditation as a way for people to cope with certain mental disorders: stress, anxiety and depression. He had my attention.
The camera scans over a room of 15 or so participants being guided into mindful meditation. I’m half listening as I eat my eggs and grapefruit and then I see it—a piece of chocolate sitting atop a little pedestal of paper towel in front of each participant. Chocolate meditation? Could it be? Is there such a thing? Okay, now he really had my attention.
This group is one of many similar groups out there embarking on an eight-week journey into calm. The goal is not to cure what ails them but to prepare them to better deal with the daily stresses of life. To learn to become curious with their emotions rather than running from them or trying to “fix” them right away.
Mindfulness meditation teaches us to turn our attention inwards. Noticing how our breath moves, how our body feels. Taking thoughts that enter our space, acknowledging them and letting them go. The hope is that once a practitioner of mindful meditation learns how to notice the body and their thoughts they can start to turn that attention onto their emotions and some of the physical reactions that come along with stress and depression.
Learning to become an observer of their emotions.
Learning to question why these thoughts and feelings arise and knowing how to handle them in a healthier way.
What does this mean for the patients?
Many found that the meditation really did work. They acknowledge that it’s not a cure. Nor is it something that you can do sporadically and still reap the benefits. This is a serious practice that needs to become a part of your life. It takes time and patience and a dedication to yourself, but the reward is something wonderful.
Some had the good fortune of coming off of the medication they once so heavily depended upon. Others, noted that the meditation helps them to better cope with the ups and downs of life. It’s taught them to come away from the notion of replacing bad thoughts with good and has brought them in to a place of calm and acknowledgement.
A place of understanding.
A place that encourages learning and growth.
As the session came to a close, the patients were instructed to take that little piece of heaven and pop it in their mouth. A well deserved treat after a long stint in silence? It’s more than that. Just as they had spent the last 20 minutes observing their breath and body, it was time to observe the sensations that come about from the chocolate. The taste, the texture, the temperature. How does it feel in your mouth, your throat, your belly? How are your body and mind reacting to the chocolate?
Talk about learning to savor the moment.
I think I just found my style of meditation.
Don’t have a full 30 minutes to commit to meditation every day, but still want a little choco-calm action? Try this:
You will need:
1. a piece of chocolate
2. the will to not scarf the chocolate
Step 1: Find a calm place and a comfortable position. Close your eyes.
Step 2: Take a few moments to let go of your day, to tune into your breathing and into your body
Step 3: Pop that piece of heaven into your mouth (do not chew)!
Step 4: Bring your attention to the sensations of the chocolate as it melts in your mouth. As thoughts come into your head, acknowledge them, let them go and bring your awareness back to the chocolate.
Step 5: Savor
Step 6: When the chocolate is finished sit for a few more moments (as many as you like) and bring your attention back to your breath and your body. How do you feel?
Step 7: Continue on with your day revisiting this feeling whenever you need a little calm.
Step 8: Remind yourself of just how amazing you are…now go on with your bad self!
Editor: Kate Bartolotta