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Posts Tagged ‘Hershey’s Chocolate World’

Chocolate Kisses and Wishes

A yogini discovers, in an unexpected place, a guilt-free way to enjoy her favorite food

Hershey bar on plate

Can a passion for yoga and an obsession for chocolate coexist peacefully? Or will an essential thread of a yogini’s self-worth begin to unravel if she indulges in chocolate treats?

As a yoga practitioner and instructor, I often question how I live my yoga. The most recognizable component of yoga–the physical practice, or poses (“asana,” in Sanskrit)–is just the visible tip of a massive yogic iceberg comprised of tantalizing philosophical crystals that date back to ancient times. A key concept for yoga practitioners is non-attachment (in Sanksrit, “Vairagya”), described in The Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali (one of the most important yoga texts) as a freeing of the mind “from craving for objects seen or heard about.”

The pioneers of yoga science were more concerned about desires for achievements and wealth than a yen for a Hershey’s kiss, but any desire can distract and trouble the mind, causing unhappiness.

I didn’t always desire chocolate as much I do now, yet it seems I’ve lived my life to its bittersweet tune. As a child, I walked with friends to the corner candy store, jingling the coins in my pocket and thinking about M&M’s.  The older I got, the finer the chocolate treats became. (Chocolate mousse, anyone?) The best dessert I ever had was the freshly made chocolate-chip cake served at a long-defunct restaurant on the Upper East Side back in the 1980s–a memory all the sweeter because I’d meet my best friends there after work for girls’ night out.

More recently, I’ve started pondering chocolate, craving chocolate, and guzzling the stuff. (I’ve tried blaming it on hormones, but that only goes so far.) So when my husband suggested a trip to Hershey, Pennsylvania, I was afraid–very afraid.  “The hotels give you chocolate candy at breakfast!” one of my students told me happily. Could I resist the temptation?

Before we left for Pennsylvania, my 10-year-old son, Harrison, read up on Hershey’s offerings. He was especially psyched about the Chocolate Tasting Adventure at Hershey’s Chocolate World attraction. “Taasting!” he said, savoring the word and its chocolatey implications.

Harrison had the right idea. A sticky-fingered, kid-friendly version of a wine tasting, the “adventure” blended bits of chocolate’s rich history (the Aztecs, we learned, drank a spiced, cocao-based beverage, believing it gave them strength) with tongue-teasing treats. Each participant received a paper bag filled with miniature Hershey’s bars, an illustrated placemat to arrange them on, and bottled water (the palate cleanser). No gobbling allowed! Bar by bar, we explored the chocolate jungle, observing each bar’s color, texture, and aroma. We tasted each bar with one small bite only–no chewing–allowing the chocolate to melt on the tongue. We were given suggested words to describe each bar’s distinctive flavor: Was it bitter or sweet? Smooth or granular? Earthy? Nutty? Buttery?

Mike and Harrison at Hershey

Enablers! My husband, Michael, and son, Harrison, tempt me with a Hagrid-size Hershey bar.

As I slowly ate, savoring flavors, sitting by my son’s side and enjoying his thoughtful expression, I realized that I was fully in the moment: joyful and content; not attached or expectant. Chocolate without worries–what could be better?

Post-Hershey, I’ve continued to make eating chocolate a fully aware, sit-down affair, and not a gobble on the go. If chocolate is your favorite food, consider trying the following routine for your next nibble.

  • Place a small amount of chocolate on a beautiful dish. Stay present. Don’t think about the chocolate you had the day or week before, or your expectations about the piece in front of you.
  • Lift the chocolate to your nose and inhale. How would you describe the scent?
  • If you are eating a solid piece of chocolate, hold it to your ear and break it in half. Notice the sound. The more milky the chocolate, the softer the sound will be. (Dark chocolate, you might notice, breaks with a wonderfully assertive snap!)
  • Resist the desire to devour. Take one bite only, and let the flavor bathe your tongue. How would you describe its taste?
  • Continue to eat, bite by bite, savoring your treat to the last.
  • When you are done, close your eyes and allow yourself to feel gratitude for the sweetness you just enjoyed. If you feel giddy enough to chant, do so: join your palms and sound “Yum,” letting the “mmm,” like the taste on your tongue, linger.

Like yoga, the cocao bean (from which chocolate is made) has been cherished since ancient times. They were born on different continents, so combining them truly yields the best of both worlds. And, like me, you may discover that you can have your calm–and eat your chocolate, too.

Thursday, October 7th, 2010
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