By Susan Davis

Mind-full. I picture a cartoon drawing of a brain with the top open, overflowing with images, movies, memories, to-do lists, laundry, dust, flowers, music, smells, touches, feelings, conversations, and stuff… oh the stuff… there is no way (without sitting on the top cover) for the brain to be whole again. There is also a red sign and fence out front that reads: Warning, extreme chaos, enter at your own risk!

When we are told that Mindfulness facilitates health and healing, quality of life, and relationship improvement, we look at our brain and quickly observe that there is no room for any more of this goodness to fit! However, short experiences can fill the need to create this important practice of mindfulness. This practice makes way for the likelihood that our brain can indeed organize and calm itself into a more beautiful and balanced state.

As I began my retail adventures in the chocolate world, I realized that there were thousands of artisan chocolate bars that I had not experienced. It was my profound responsibility in life to become personally acquainted with every possible chocolate bar I could identify. (Such a difficult task to face – I know…) To be objective with my personal observations and critiques, it was imperative that I use a systematic method of tasting and recording chocolate experiences. This is where our mindfulness practice begins.

Being mindful when experiencing a culinary masterpiece such as chocolate, requires all available senses. It also requires that one quiets their environment and their own person to secure the maximum inputs (i.e. enjoyment) from the tasting. Here is a guide:

  • Cleanse the palette by sipping room temperature water
  • Take a few deep breaths and relax into your chair
  • Observe the color of the chocolate – whites (pink, golden) milks (light golden or light brown with a grey tint) dark (varies from warm golden dark brown to reddish or purple hues)
  • Rub the chocolate between your fingers and smell the chocolate which will be emitting the lovely scents that will soon be echoed in your mouth
  • Break the chocolate and note the “snap” to determine the quality of the temper (more snap is better)
  • Place a small amount of the chocolate on your tongue – moving it completely around your mouth until all parts of your tasting centers are covered
  • Continue to let the chocolate melt as you swallow or chew to finish the tasting
  • Observe the texture and tastes on your tongue and the scents that finalize the tasting in the back of your throat

This is simple and direct mindfulness practice as focused on luxurious food. This use of all your senses can be applied to anything you choose to eat. Why not? It does not take more time or special equipment – it’s just you – paying attention to what you choose to experience. So, while adding a practice (discipline) to your life may seem overwhelming, mindfulness is easy. Go ahead, pay attention to the ordinary things in your life and they will emerge as extraordinary.