Rococo Chocolates founder, Chantal Coady, shares a beautiful breathing exercise to help you garner a new relationship with chocolate in the New Year.
Chantal’s Chocolate Meditation
All you’ll need for this exercise is some high quality dark chocolate (you’re in the right place! See our range of dark chocolate here) and a quiet space (you can also do this with friends if you’d prefer). Get ready by practicing some mindfulness for a minute or so – sit comfortably, place your hands on your thighs.
This breathing exercise is utterly simple, takes almost no time, requires no equipment and can be done anywhere. Although you can do the exercise in any position, sit with your back straight while learning the exercise. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward.
Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
Hold your breath for a count of seven.
Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
Please note, with this breathing technique, you always inhale quietly through your nose and exhale audibly through your mouth. The tip of your tongue stays in position the whole time. Exhalation takes twice as long as inhalation. The absolute time you spend on each phase is not important; the ratio of 4:7:8 is important. If you have trouble holding your breath, speed the exercise up but keep to the ratio of 4:7:8 for the three phases.
With practice you can slow it all down and get used to inhaling and exhaling more and more deeply. This breathing exercise is a natural tranquilliser for the nervous system – do it at least twice a day for maximum benefits. If you feel a little lightheaded when you first breathe this way, do not be concerned; it will pass.
Once you develop this technique by practicing it every day, it will become an incredibly useful tool that you will always have with you – use it whenever you are aware of internal tension or stress. It can also help you fall asleep.
Now for the fun part – once you have gained control of your breath and steadied your mind take two pieces of chocolate – 5-gram squares or similar would be perfect.
One should be the best dark chocolate you can find (like Rococo’s range of dark chocolate) and any other a commercial milk chocolate. Start with the good quality dark chocolate.
Inhale deeply and notice what you can smell, you may find aromas of fruit, woody notes, leather or caramel.
Notice the colour – dark chocolate comes in many different hues, from a reddish tinge, to brown or even black. In general a redder colour indicates quality, while a darker the hue indicates that the cocoa beans were burnt during production. Is the chocolate glossy or dull?
Notice as you hold the chocolate that it may be starting to melt. Cocoa butter is a unique fat that melts just below body temperature. The better the quality, the faster it will melt.
Now, if you can, break your piece of chocolate in two: listen to the snap and then observe the texture – the crystalline structure should have revealed itself.
Now this is the bit you have been waiting for… Put the chocolate in your mouth to experience the flavour explosion as it melts on your tongue. Do not chew the chocolate – instead allow it melt slowly and notice all the different sensations and flavours. Chocolate contains over 300 different flavour compounds.
Notice what you were feeling on every sensory level – notice where your mind was and how satisfying the experience was for you.
Now you can eat the milk chocolate, using the same steps. What you have experienced is known as “delayed gratification” – you have been in the moment, immersed in your chocolate tasting and in the process, your brain wiring has altered. You may feel that you don’t need to go on eating more chocolate – that you feel satisfied…
A GUIDE TO CHOOSING GOOD QUALITY DARK CHOCOLATE
- Read the label – this will tell you where the cocoa is from, what variety and lots more.
- Percentage of cocoa – should be a minimum of 60% and can go up to 100%. However, the variety of cocoa beans and price are much more reliable source of information.
- Avoid anything with artificial vanillin or butter oil. Dark chocolate should always be vegan, and the only fat should be pure naturally occurring cocoa butter, which is a very healthy fat.
- Organic chocolate – made with certified organic beans, no pesticides or herbicides used – this is better for the cocoa farmers, the environment and for YOU.