As I convalesce, I have been listening to presentations on mindfulness through the Mindfulness Summit, a 31-day project with a mission to make mindfulness mainstream.
Here I have to admit that I’m not very good at practicing mindfulness…or anything else that requires me to sit quietly.
I’m getting better, and I think the daily talks and practices in the Mindfulness Summit have helped.
I want to share with you one thing that I have learned in the last few weeks that I have known but never fully embraced…
In my mindfulness practice and in listening to these daily mindfulness talks, I have not specifically focused on being present. However, this is what I’m taking away from these 31 days.
It is true that if you practice, you will improve. It does not matter what it is that you are practicing. And though I spend most of my evenings reminding my daughter to practice her piano and practice her singing, knowing all the while that this is what she needs to do to improve her skills in these areas, I consistently neglect practice in my own life.
Mindfulness is a skill, and one that needs to be practiced.
Without realizing it because I’m doing it as part of a daily routine of listening to the Mindfulness Summit, I have embedded the practice of being present in my mind.
I’ve written here about counting before speaking or reacting, and I’ve practiced that inconsistently over the years. It’s a similar idea to being present, but once you’re present, you are in that moment and can be in every moment if you choose it.
Here is where I get to the part about chocolate.
I love Caramilk chocolate bars. My husband brought one home for me the other night. It has been sitting in the pantry ever since.
Today, I decided to eat it.
But I found myself not wanting to just devour it as I would have in the past. I broke one square off, thinking I would slowly savour the treat.
After popping it into my mouth, I chewed it and swallowed it rather quickly. It was just so good. I couldn’t slow myself down.
I walked away from the chocolate bar. It was tempting me. Pushing me out of my present zone. Dragging me toward wanting more.
I came back a few minutes later, thinking I was ready to handle the delicious little temptress, and I took the chocolate bar to the kitchen table with me.
I sat down at the table, opened my Kindle app on my phone and proceeded to read while I ate the rest of the chocolate bar.
I allowed a couple of squares to melt in my mouth without chewing them. I was winning the battle of temptation. I was slowing down my time with this delicious treat; appreciating all that it had to offer.
But was I?
I was reading and eating. Not fulling enjoying either activity.
And all that mindfulness practice came flooding in.
I closed my Kindle app and pushed my phone away. I took the next square of chocolate and paid close attention to how much of the chocolate bar was left (half, in case you’re wondering).
I put that square in my mouth, closed my eyes and let it melt. I took slow, deep breaths. I savoured the melting chocolate, the feeling of it as it coated the inside of my mouth, the sweetness of it as it slipped down my throat, the way that it activated a sense of calm in my brain.
As I felt my mind wander away from the chocolate to the next item on my To Do list, I gently brought my mind back to the chocolate, back to the sensation, just like in the meditation practice I learned on day one of the Mindfulness Summit.
That square lasted just under a minute, but the feeling of being present in that moment with that square of chocolate and caramel will last in my memory for a life time.
As I write this, I feel a sense of calm and relaxation from the memory alone.
The other half of the chocolate bar is wrapped neatly in its wrapping in the pantry for the next time I need to be reminded of how to be present.