Do you have a body? Don’t sit on the porch!
Go out and walk in the rain!
If you are in love,
then why are you asleep?
Wake up, wake up!
You have slept millions and millions of years.
Why not wake up this morning?
Life is happening all around us. At times, it can feel frantic and overwhelming. We may find ourselves rushing from one activity to the next attempting to do seven things at once. Our minds keep running when we lay down at night, continually churning, keeping us from a restful night’s sleep. After a while, it all feels meaningless. It’s time to get up and face another hectic day.
If this sounds familiar, then this blog is for you. Grab a piece of chocolate and keep reading.
Here is the good news: Current research is growing about the benefits of a practice called “mindfulness.” “Mindfulness is purposefully paying attention, in the present moment and without judgment.” (Kabat-Zinn, 2005) The practice of mindfulness has been shown to calm the mind, improve memory, and bring about clarity. It has also been shown to reduce symptoms in those suffering from chronic pain, depression, anxiety, and mood disorders. When we wake up to the present moment, we are able to renew our zest for life and enhance our relationships.
In the book Mindfulness, Mark Williams and Danny Penman discuss the benefits of a mindfulness practice. Mindfulness can be practiced anywhere and for any length of time. Williams and Penman share exercises ranging from 1 to 3 minutes, or 20 to 30 minutes, so it can become a part of one’s daily routine no matter how much (or how little) time you have. The most important point is to realize that our minds tend to wander, so we gently bring our mind back to the present. Keep coming back to the present, over and over again. One of my personal favorite exercises is their Chocolate meditation. (If you do not like chocolate, try it with another pleasurable substitute.)
The Chocolate meditation
Choose some chocolate, either a type that you have never tried before or one that you have not eaten recently. It might be dark, milk, organic, fair-trade, or whatever you choose. The important thing is to choose a type you would not normally eat or that you consume only rarely.
• Open the packet. Inhale the aroma. Let it sweep over you.
• Break off a piece and look at it. Really let your eyes take in what it looks like, examining every nook and cranny.
• Pop it in your mouth. See if it is possible to hold it on your tongue and let it melt, noticing any tendency to suck at it. Chocolate has over three hundred flavors. See if you can sense some of them.
• If you notice your mind wandering while you do this, simply notice where it went, and then gently escort it back to the present moment.
• After the chocolate has melted, swallow it very slowly and deliberately. Let it trickle down your throat.
• Repeat this with the next bite.
• How do you feel? Is it different from normal? Did the chocolate taste better than if you’d just eaten it at a normal breakneck pace? (Williams & Penman, 2011)
If you seek a place to calm your racing mind, or a place where you learn compassion for yourself, please contact Fuller Life Family Therapy. We want to work together with you to wake up to a fuller experience of living each moment in the present.
Bly, Robert, (1977). The Kabir Book.
Resident therapist at Fuller Life Family Therapy Institute