One of the most common myths about meditation is that in order to feel the benefits, you need to meditate for hours a day, invest in specialist equipment or find a special space in which to practice. The truth is, you can meditate on more or less anything –even while indulging in an ice cream! (Now there’s a win–win situation.) And you can do it virtually anywhere – in the park, on the beach, on a bus or in a busy airport on your way to your summer holiday.
Science is increasingly showing that a little meditation goes a long way, so why not try this ice cream meditation in the sun today?
First decide what flavour of ice cream to eat. For the purposes of this meditation we encourage you to avoid choosing an old favourite and try a flavour that is new to you. Perhaps try a variety with contrasting flavours such as mint and chocolate, or salt and caramel.
Take off the wrapping, or place some scoops in a bowl. Now pause and look at it closely. Really observe the texture and colours. Spend a few moments letting your eyes soak up every detail. Now take in the smell. Is it strong or subtle? Is the smell multi-faceted? Notice as many nuances as possible. Notice what is happening in your mouth! Are you salivating as you anticipate the experience of eating it? Can you stay with this anticipation for a few moments longer, noticing the feelings in your body?
Now place the first spoonful on your tongue. What happens? What are the precise sensations as the cold of the ice cream meets the warmth of your mouth? Feel the sensations of melting and the way different flavours are released as the ice cream dissolves. If you have chosen a flavour with contrasting elements, how do these reveal themselves to your taste buds? Are there some moments where one flavour dominates replaced by moments where the other flavour dominates?
Resist the temptation to swallow the ice cream and gulp down another mouthful. Instead, let the flavours linger and only when you feel you have fully experienced all that this spoonful has to offer should you swallow it. How does your mouth feel now?
Is it dominated by warmth or cold? Notice the way the natural temperature of your mouth gradually asserts itself and the way the sensations and feelings on your tongue change. Repeat the previous step with another spoonful of ice cream.
See if you can really experience this instead of rushing on to the next one. Enjoy all the flavours and smells and the play of warmth and cold in your mouth as you take each mouthful and let it linger.
Carry on repeating this until you’ve finished your ice cream. How do you feel? Is it different from normal? Did the ice cream taste better than if you had consumed it at your normal speed?
This meditation has been extracted from Mindfulness for Women by Vidyamala Burch and Claire Irvin. For more on mindfulness visit the website www.mindfulness4women.com.