WELCOME TO THE GRATEFUL DUDE WEEKLY UPDATE FOR JUNE 25th, 2017
The Mindful Brewski
Did you know that mindfulness makes beer taste better?
To clarify, being mindful or meditating doesn’t actually change the taste of the beer. It simply changes the way you experience it. I’ll get into that in a second.
My intention for today’s blogpost is twofold: 1) Explain how mindfulness can be applied in any situation and 2) provide you with a simple tool you can use to channel mindfulness on command in less that 20 seconds.
Back to the beer.
I’ve always enjoyed a cold brewski. Back in college I used to enjoy them quite often. Shotguns, Beer Funnels, Beer Pong, Casual brewskis with the boys - the typical things most lacrosse players and fraternity guys do.
The thing is, I wasn’t always enjoying the brewskis themselves. The brewskis were often more of a social crutch. I’m sure many people out there can relate to that. Getting to a party, or a bar, feeling on edge, and having that impulse to get a drink to take the edge off. For most of my college career my impulse was followed by an action: “I’ll have a heineken please, thank you”.
It was all about taking the edge off. A completely understandable and relatable feeling - I mean, we all want to feel good, right?
But it was a habit. And not a healthy one. Over time I came to link feeling comfortable with alcohol, and I developed an impulse to have another brewski when I felt a little uncomfortable. This worked to make me comfortable at parties, but I wasn’t getting to the root cause of the discomfort, which was my anxiety.
Oh, anxiety. You are such a lovely friend. Without you, I wouldn’t be here. After all, the human race evolved from the “freaked out apes” who were always stressing about potential threats. The chillaxed monkeys were the ones who got eaten by saber tooth tigers while they were lying in the open field not worrying about nada.
The point I’m trying to get at is that I wasn’t enjoying my cold brewskis mindfully. Isn’t that a shame? I mean, so many high quality, premium, craft natural lights were consumed without truly savoring the flavor. Such a shame to waste a natty!
In all seriousness….I wasn’t even usually mindful for the nice beers, like an ice cold heineken. Such a pity.
The point of a cold brewski is to enjoy the flavor and the buzz. The experience. Now that my anxiety doesn’t dominate my life (I credit meditation for that by the way) I can enjoy my brewskis much more mindfully. Here’s how I do that using mindfulness:
It’s all about noticing the flavor of the beer. It starts with paying extreme attention to the sensation of how it tastes in my mouth (“Wow, that’s super hoppy”). How does the texture of the beer feel, how does it smell as you bring the glass up to your mouth? How does the cold refreshing texture feel as it goes down my throat and into my stomach?
It’s really simple - you just pay more attention to the sensory experience of things. How does the weight of the stein feel in your hand. What’s written on the stein? Thoughts like these are mindful thoughts. They are focused on what you’re doing in this moment, versus drinking a beer while your thoughts are running elsewhere without any awareness.
And while beer is the example I chose to use today, it’s not just beer that can be enjoyed mindfully. I’m not trying to hype up beer or alcohol. You can do this with food, juice, water, anything.
So I invite you to pick an experience that might usually happen without any focus (i.e. that Chipotle burrito that gets finished before you realized you were eating) and simply pay more attention to the different sensations.
I learned a tool yesterday from one of my mindfulness mentors. This tool can be applied in any situation (work, partying, eating, etc.) and all it takes is three DEEP breaths. As you breathe deeply, try the following.
Breath 1: Completely focus your attention on the sensation of what it feels like to breathe. You might notice the feeling of the rise and fall of your abdomen, or the feeling of the air on the tip of your nostril.
Breath 2: Make an intention to relax the body, even if it’s only 1% more. Do a quick scan and notice any areas you might be holding tension, and see if you can let some of it go
Breath 3: Ask yourself “What is most important to me right now”? Don’t worry about having an answer, just ask yourself the open question and invite whatever arises to arise.
Before you know it, these three mindful breaths will add up and you’ll start experiencing more mindfulness in day to day life.
Taking a moment to be mindful of the sensory experience of just about anything can make the experience all the better
You can access greater mindfulness on command with a tool that only takes three breaths
Breath 1: focus your attention on what it feels like to breathe
Breath 2: see if you can relax your body 1% more
Breath 3: ask yourself “What is most important to me right now?”
Thanks for reading!