Friday 28 October 2011

Awareness vs Judgement

Gretel Hallet, is a Trained Chocolate Fairy and is running the Getting Started half day workshop in Norwich - perfect for beginners to experience the core principles of Beyond Chocolate and equally great as a refresher for any Beyond Chocolater. If you live in East Anglia and want to know more about Beyond Chocolate or her workshops, get in touch with Gretel.

As I mentioned in a previous blog post – I recently spent a week in a women's retreat centre learning about meditation (amongst other things). And, as the week progressed, I was struck several times by the way that these meditation practices fitted in so well with my Beyond Chocolate practice.

So this time I'd like to talk about Awareness versus Judgement.

Beyond Chocolate encourages and helps us to become more aware of our own bodies. So many of us acknowledge that we have a body, but that we'd rather not be too aware of it. Somehow we reason that if we become totally aware of our bodies we will be disgusted by them and thrown straight back into the self-torment of dieting and body loathing. It's easier, in fact, to just ignore the fact that we have a body beyond cleaning, clothing and feeding it.

With Beyond Chocolate we are gently encouraged to make contact with our bodies and to acknowledge that they are there and that we do need them. Acceptance of our bodies as they are may take longer for some than others, but it's the first necessary step on the road to change – we can't change what we don't own or acknowledge. And, we don't have to like or love our bodies at this stage, but we do need to acknowledge them.

The meditation practice I was learning said the same but in a different context. Be aware of your body and your thoughts and emotions, but don't pass any judgement on them. They are what you have right now, they are what you are working with. Accept and move on.

If you're anything like me, you have a lot of mental chatter too. A lot of emotions, thoughts, feelings that come and go and some that come and seem to stick around for ages. Beyond Chocolate encourages us to notice these and not to judge them. To notice them and then let them gently go or notice them and sit with them, allowing the feelings rather than squashing them down with food.

In both cases, noticing the emotion, acknowledging the thought, working with what we have right now (instead of waiting for a mythical future in which we will be slim and ‘perfect’) is a great place to start from.


  1. Hi Gretal! Yes, my boyfriend is getting very into Zen buddhism, and he is convinced that Sophie and Audrey got their inspiration from that religion, even though (as far as I know!) they didn't. The similarities are v striking - being mindful of ourselves (that includes our bodies - people always forget that our mind and body are one!) and of everything we do - breathing, walking, listening and eating. There's a classic Zen exercise that gets you really in tune with eating - thinking about the food, looking at it - using your eyes, nose and even ears - and then when you finally allow yourself to taste it, to REALLY taste it and enjoy it. Doing everything mindfully includes slowing down and becoming aware of everything. Just as Zen has helped my partner, Beyond Chocolate has helped me in very similar ways (applying it to my life, not just eating) and we are both so much happier.

  2. Great post Gretel and so true. I rarely am aware of my body except to berate it in some way for being too big, or to focus on those zones that I dislike the most. The mindfulness exercise sounds like a great way to connect positively. Tanks for that. Emmax

  3. Glad you both understood - I was a little concerned that I was getting a little too far from BC but my thoughts on the retreat were constantly 'how like BC this is!'

  4. May I recommend Mark Williams and Danny Penman's book, Mindfulness - Finding Peace in a Frantic World? Especially Chapter 6, 'Keeping the body in mind'. This book is my bible, along with Full Catastrophe Living: How to Cope with Stress, Pain and Illness Using Mindfulness Meditation, by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Mindfulness meditation is the way to go, for EVERYBODY, whatever their problems. Why have most of us in the West been ignoring eastern philosophies and practices for so many millennia?!


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