How Chocolate Can Help You be More Mindful

Managing wellbeing is so important as a founder and mindfulness can be a great tool to help with this. In this guest blog Hatch graduate Meredith Whitely talks through the role that chocolate can play in your mindfulness journey. Meredith is the founder of Food At Heart and Calm Cocoa, and completed a Hatch Incubator programme

There are many routes into mindfulness, but chocolate is certainly one of the most delicious.

It might be helpful to start with a little reminder of what mindfulness is.

I really like Jon Kabat-Zinn’s definition of mindfulness as ‘the awareness that arises through paying attention on purpose in the present moment non-judgementally’.

Mindfulness isn’t just about paying attention. It’s also about bringing a deliberate intention to cultivating this awareness. And trying to do this with a sense of acceptance and compassion.

We experience the world through our thoughts, emotions, sensations and senses. Mindfulness helps us to tune into this experience, and ultimately build a better sense of connection with ourselves and the wider world.

It does take practise, and there are formal and informal ways to do this – including meditation.

Mindful Eating

Mindful eating is both a type meditation, and a compassionate attitude to eating and hunger grounded in the principles of mindfulness. It involves slowing down and really paying attention. It also helps us reconnect with the full pleasure of taste.

We so often eat in a distracted and disconnected way, and mindful eating is an antidote to this.

In a happy coincidence, the process of tasting chocolate is very similar to a mindful eating meditation.

Chocolate tasting is a truly sensory experience that involves: looking, touching, listening, smelling and tasting. It’s also about paying attention to how a chocolate makes you feel and the journey it takes you on.

Chocolate is a fantastic option for exploring mindful eating as it’s one of the most complex foods around when it comes to taste and flavour. There are over 600 flavours you might taste across the different types of chocolate. This can range from grassy and fresh all the way through to smoky and earthy (and everything in between).

But you really only notice this complexity when you slow down and pay attention.

The extra bonus is that chocolate is such a joyful food, which adds an extra layer of tasting pleasure.

Why is this so Important for Founders?

The rollercoaster ride of business life can feel overwhelming. Finding tools to support your wellbeing is really important, but it can be challenging to make time for them. This is why mindful eating is so powerful. 

We need to eat and drink every day so it’s a great opportunity to practise a little mindfulness, even if just for a mouthful or two. 

This might be a taste of chocolate, a sip or hot chocolate – or something else if you prefer. 

A lot of people find it difficult to focus in meditation (which is normal!), but having something external involved, like chocolate, can help with this.

Over time you can gradually build up to a longer, more ‘formal’ mindful eating meditation if it’s something that resonates with you.

Try your own Chocolate Meditation

  1. Sit somewhere quiet with a piece or two of chocolate in front of you (any type is fine, but dark chocolate tends to have more depth of flavour). Take a few breaths in and out to settle yourself.
  2. Start by looking at your chocolate – what do you see? What colours, shapes, details do you notice?
  3. Touch the chocolate and notice how it feels. Try not to lick your fingers if the chocolate melts (it’s tricky!), but instead rub them together. You might even like to think about all the hands that brought the chocolate to you, from the cocoa farmer to the chocolate maker. 
  4. Break off a piece of your chocolate and listen to the snap.
  5. Take a small piece and lift it to your nose, inhaling the aromas. What do you smell? How does it make you feel? Is there anything else you notice in your body or mind?
  1. Rather than chewing, pop a small piece of the chocolate in your mouth and let it melt on your tongue. How does it feel: is it creamy, grainy or silky? And what about the taste? It might be sweet, sour, salty, umami or maybe a little bitter. What flavours develop as the chocolate melts? What flavours are left as it slips down your throat?
  1. Pause. How does your mouth feel now it’s empty? Is there anything else that stands out?
  2. Continue to slowly taste and notice what takes your attention with each mouthful and moment.
  3. When you’ve tasted enough (or finished your chocolate!), close your eyes or soften your gaze. Sit for a few moments and reflect on how the experience was for you. Take one final deep breath in and out, then take a little chocolatey calm off into your day.

Find out more

If you’d like to try a short guided version, you can also sip along to a hot chocolate meditation on the Calm Cocoa website. You can also find out more about my chocolate wellbeing experiences on Food At Heart.

About the Author

My aim is to boost people’s mental wellbeing through the delicious combination of chocolate and mindfulness. As a meditation teacher and chocolatier, I have two parts to my business: one is my mindful hot chocolate range Calm Cocoa and the other is my series of mindfulness and meditation experiences, normally incorporating chocolate. 

The Hatch programme really helped me get clear on where I most wanted to spend time in my business, to maximise both personal fulfilment and revenue. It was so helpful to review the different areas of my business, and really think about what was and wasn’t working so well. 

Meredith Whitely

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