Chocolate is one of life’s potentially guilty pleasures, for those who love it. You know you “shouldn’t”, but you love it anyway. We set ourselves resolutions and make promises to give it up, then dive into articles that proclaim its health benefits, justifying our addiction.
But what if chocolate had other benefits to offer? For example, helping you learn to meditate? Would it really be so bad? Want to find out 5 ways chocolate can help you keep your meditation habit going?
Despite the downsides of the fats and sugars, chocolate could be your friend when it comes to studying meditation and mindfulness, chocolate – in moderation :-).
Here are five ways chocolate can help you learn to meditate:
It’s a great incentive
If you love chocolate, how about using it as an incentive to motivate you to do your chosen meditation or mindfulness practice?
Use it to motivate and reward yourself for carving out that special time.
Of course, you don’t need to dive in and reward yourself with a massive slab or 3 big bars. You’ll know how little you can get away with. 😉
A healthier choice: ‘Normal’ chocolate is still packed with fats and refined sugar. How about trying an incredibly delicious and more nutritious raw chocolate treat instead?
Chocolate improves the blood flow to the brain.
When your bloodflow to your brain is restricted, say, by stress, tension or dehydration, the flavonoids in chocoalte can help increase the bloodflow. Eating about 50g of 70% cocoa solids chocolate an hour or two before meditating creates this effect.
Why should you care? Because it makes it easier for your brain to concentrate. And concentration is the 2nd pillar of meditation. Without concentration, you can’t meditate or practice mindfulness.
So increasing the bloodflow to your brain (within healthy limits!) is a good thing for learning to meditate.
A healthier choice: Other options that create the same effect include drinking a glass of water an hour or so before meditating, or doing a deep relaxation, to release tension and get the bloodflow going again. Flavonoids are also found in fruits such as apples, pears, blueberries and blackcurrants.
Chocolate helps you to relax.
The magnesium in chocolate helps you to relax, releasing physical and mental tension. Relaxation is the first pillar of meditation and mindfulness practices. If you can’t relax, you can’t concentrate, so you won’t be able to meditate.
A healthier choice: Other good sources of magnesium include dark leafy greens (also great for iron and calcium), pumpkin seeds, sprouted almonds (a great body alkaliser), French beans and chick peas (garbanzo beans).
Chocolate impacts your brain chemistry, making you happier and more alert.
Good quality chocolate can release neurotransmitters in your brain that impact your mood. For example, it triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s ‘happy chemical’. It also triggers the release of phenylethylamine, which causes changes in blood pressure and blood-sugar levels to increase alertness. Both of these are really useful when you’re preparing to meditate.
A healthier choice: Exercising releases endorphins, without the side effects of chocolate’s sugars and fats. That’s one of the reason why I always get people up and bouncing around, before I teach a meditation class.
Phenylethylamine is an amino acid that’s naturally-available in protein-rich foods.
And finally, how about bringing chocolate into your meditation practice?
One of my favourite exercises with meditation students is working with food and mindfulness.
If you were to sit and relax, then take a small piece of chocolate and really experience eating it, it can be a life-changing experience! It awakens you to living in the present moment.
A healthier choice: How about choosing a raisin instead? Here’s a link to an article that talks you through ‘raisin mindfulness’. You never know where this technique could take you! 🙂
So there you have them – five ways that chocolate can help you to learn how to meditate.
I’m curious: what do you think?
Could chocolate help you with this?
What are some of the alternatives you might consider?
Please share via the comments box!
And if you’d like to discover for yourself how even ten minutes a day of meditation and mindfulness could change your life, how about joining in with my hugely popular 28 Day Meditation Challenge online course?
P.S. If you found this article helpful, please share it with your friends!