How chocolate can transform your outlook

You may or may not have already heard about mindfulness but if you have ever laid in bed worrying or found yourself consumed by stress or tiredness, then practising mindfulness could be perfect for you- it can even be done whilst eating chocolate! 

With the exam period in full flow, many of you may be feeling the burdens of stress and anxiety, so try and take some time out to follow this basic guide to introducing mindfulness into your life. You will come away feel refreshed and revitalised- just what you need before you walk into the exam hall!

Mindfulness centers on being present, sustaining happiness and helping tackle the hardest parts of our lives. It can be split into two parts: the meditation programme- which is a series of daily meditations- and breaking away from negative thinking habits. 

Here are three starting points to help you become mindful:

Meditation

Try a one-minute meditation

Put your books, laptop, phone or whatever to one side and sit up straight on a chair with your feet flat and eyes rested. 

Shift your attention on to your breathing and notice how you feel with each breath in and out. 

If you notice your mind wandering, draw your thoughts back to your breathing until your mind becomes calm and centered. 

After one minute, open your eyes and observe the room around you.
 

chocolate

Switching off auto-pilot

The routine of our day to day lives can lead us to live in auto-pilot and become oblivious to our surroundings. When you walk somewhere are you thinking about getting to your destination or are you absorbing the environment around you? 

Mindfulness encourages greater awareness and allows you to break free of habits and routines that make it feel like you are living in your head rather than in the present.

One technique that you can use to 'wake yourself up' to being aware is mindful eating. 

A good practise for this to kick off with is 'The Chocolate Meditation'.

  • Select a piece of chocolate that you don't usually have or have never tried.
  • Open the packaging and inhale the scent of the chocolate fully.
  • Snap off a piece of the chocolate and gaze at it so that your eyes are examining its every detail.
  • Place the chocolate in your mouth and try to let it melt on your tongue whilst noticing any habit of sucking on it. Try to sense the flavours of the chocolate and how the sensations are playing on your tongue.
  • If your mind begins to wander, without telling yourself off mentally, simply bring the strand of thought back to the present moment.
  • Once melted, swallow the chocolate slowly and deliberately, experiencing it as it trickles down your throat.
  • Afterwards think about how this might be different to how you usually eat chocolate. How has the chocolate meditation made you feel? Did it taste better than wolfing it down?
awareeness

Growing awareness outside of your mind

The daily stresses and anxieties of life are very much caught up in your mind and can ruin your mood, health and happiness. By releasing yourself from this, your daily enjoyment and ability to cope with stress will increase. There are many ways to start doing this- taking a mindful walk, turning off your technology or simply adding value to your current habits such as only watching TV that you are generally interested to see rather than as routine. 

One of the most effective ways to become more aware is through mindful movement/yoga. By seeing what your limitations are, both physically and mentally, you can continue to join the body and mind. Your stress and anxiety are released through the body, whether this is through muscle tension or feeling unwell, and increasing your awareness of this can make you feel more in control both physically and mentally. There are plenty of yoga videos for beginners on YouTube or you could attend a class locally or at your uni to get started.

The Mental Health Foundation are raising awareness of mindfulness for Mental Health Awareness Week (May 11th-17th). Read more info here: http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/our-w...awarenessweek/ 

Check out our mental health forum or start a thread about yoga in our fitness forum.