12. How to practice Mindful Eating: script

Thanks to Cassandra Bachrach for her help to transcribe this script from our Mindful Eating YouTube video.

The Mindful Eating script

Please hold a sultana in your hand.

Take hold of the sultana between your finger and your thumb. Then, close your eyes.

Now, put all your focus on the sultana, feel the texture, roll it between your finger and your thumb. Sense any patterns on the upper side, the lower side and the edges and the ends.

You’ve never met this sultana before. Every sultana is different. What is this sultana like in texture and feel? You might like to move it between your finger and thumb, turning it over, turning it from end to end, sensing every detail of this sultana as deeply as you can.

Just get to know the sultana. Now very slowly, very, very slowly so you have awareness of how your hand is moving, how your arm is moving, you are going to bring this sultana up in front of the eyes.

Now allow your eyes to open so that you look fully at this sultana for the first time.

What does this sultana look like? What do you notice about the shape and the pattern on the sultana? Does it look like you imagined it would look like when you felt it? How wrinkled is it? Is one side the same as the other side? Look at the ends. Does the pattern change on each end?

Can you can see that at some point maybe the sultana is attached to something greater?

Notice the colour. Notice the colour variation.

Now, very gently, allow your eyes to close again.

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Mindfully noticing with all your senses

Bring the sultana to the nose. Is there any sense of a smell from this sultana? Does it give off any scent and perfume? You might try it with one nostril breathing in any scent. Then try it with the other nostril. Breathe in any smell. Maybe it does not have any smell. Just be curious. Discover for yourself for your particular sultana.

Next, very slowly, again noticing how your arm moves, bring your sultana to your ear. Does this sultana make any sound? Sometimes food makes noise. What happens if you squeeze the sultana just outside your ear? Does it make a crackly or popping noise? Or, is there no sound? Roll the sultana slowly between your finger and thumb, noticing any sounds at all.

You may never have thought of the sound of a sultana before but we have many senses of which we can be mindful.

Allow your hand to return to your lap, still holding the sultana between your finger and your thumb.

Feel the sultana resting where it is.

Bringing the sultana to your mouth mindfully

Now very slowly, noticing the movement of your arm, your hand, and your fingers, bring the sultana very slowly in front of your mouth. Do you know where your lips are? Sense where you need to bring the sultana to the centre point of the mouth, without touching the sultana to the lips. Gently hold it there without it touching the lips.

Pay attention to anything that may be happening inside your mouth. Is there any anticipation inside your mouth of having a sultana in there? Your tongue? Saliva? Teeth? And what about your mind? Do you have any anticipation? Some people eat the food before it has even touched their lips.

They have anticipated the taste before it’s actually happened.

Are you doing this or are you totally focused on the sultana between your fingers? The mind and body are deeply connected. Sometimes there is great anticipation before food arrives.

Now allow yourself to move the sultana into your mouth very slowly. Rest the sultana between your teeth but without biting it. Just rest it there. Notice if anything happens inside your mouth when you rest the sultana there. Do you get a little boost of saliva? Is the tongue anticipating the arrival? Is anything happening in your teeth? Pay full attention to what happens.

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Mindfully taking the first bite

Now, very slowly, take a small bite of the sultana but do not swallow at this stage. Just bite it between your teeth.

What else happens in your mouth? What does the tongue want to do? Is anything happening to the saliva? Or to the cheeks? Is there any sense of taste, any anticipation?

Now allow yourself very slowly to chew this part of the sultana but still not swallow. Notice what your tongue does to the bit of sultana. Does your tongue move it around your mouth? Does saliva come into your mouth? Is there any movement of your jaw, your cheeks? What does this bit of sultana feel like as you start to chew it? Is there any noise or any squelch?

Slowly, as you prepare to swallow, notice what happens. Notice the action of the tongue. Notice the saliva. As you swallow a piece of the sultana, notice the taste. Notice the afterglow of your swallow.

Mindfully taking a second bite of the sultana

Now take another small bite of the sultana and repeat this process. Chew this piece of sultana very slowly and mindfully, notice everything that is happening in your mouth and to the sultana. How big of chunk are you biting each time? What is the work of the tongue?

What happens before you swallow? How often are you chewing the sultana before you swallow it? What happens after you swallow?

Now take another small bite of the sultana and repeat this process.

Do this so in the end you have taken 5 or 6 bites of the sultana. Chew and swallow each one mindfully, with full awareness of what happens at each stage.

Allow yourself to keep chewing the sultana until the whole sultana has been chewed and swallowed.

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Mindfully noticing the afterglow

Once the sultana has gone, notice the after-effect in your mouth. What is happening in your mouth? Does your tongue want to clean your teeth? Is there still saliva? Is there any lingering taste? What is your mind saying to you? Are you commenting on this process? Or are you allowing yourself to stay focused with the sultana and the taste that lingers behind?

Monitor your mind in this process. Allow yourself to focus quietly; monitoring what happens in your mouth now that you have swallowed the sultana.

Allow yourself to stay in the present moment, noticing whatever happens with your mind and body. (Long pause….. eyes closed. Quiet.)

We are coming to the end of the meditation time. Notice where your mind is. What have you learnt? How do you feel? How does your body feel? Has anything changed in your mind, is it calmer, slower, less full of thoughts? Have you gone back to thinking about other things or are you still in the present moment right now?

This is the end of the meditation, now slowly come out of the meditation and open your eyes and come back into the room.

Want to gain the benefits of meditation? You can do it now using our professional recordings "Happy not hassled". There are four guided meditations of different lengths and types for you and instructions on how to meditate.

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11. Smartphones can teach mindfulness

Summary written by Rachel Green, Director of The Emotional Intelligence Institute.

A mindfulness study

"Putting the ‘app’ in Happiness: A Randomised Controlled Trial of a Smartphone-Based Mindfulness Intervention to Enhance Wellbeing", by Annika Howells, Itai Ivtzan, and Francisco Jose Eiroa-Orosa. Published in Journal of Happiness Studies, 29th October 2014.

Can you use your smartphone to help you develop mindfulness and as a consequence feel better?

This is the basic question asked by this study, which was conducted as part of a positive psychology Masters degree by Australian based, Annika Howells, at the University of East London.

There are many different Apps available which are said to improve one's wellbeing but the driving question behind Annika's research was "are they effective?".

Very few Apps have been evaluated scientifically, until this point.

In this study mindfulness is defined as the practice of non-judgmental awareness of present moment experiences.

If you are interested in learning more about mindfulness and meditation, and the positive research outcomes that have resulted from studies into their results, then this paper provides some very useful material.

There is no doubt in the scientific literature that mindfulness has a positive impact on people's emotions and it is therefore an important methodology in emotional intelligence development.

Annika and her colleagues state: By researching long-term meditators and delivering mindfulness-based training to novice meditators, scientists are building a deeper understanding of the multiple pathways influenced by the practice, that lead to greater psychological health.

Mindfulness methodology

  1. A  randomized-control trial was conducted. Subjects self-selected in response to advertisements on social media and in newsletters inviting volunteers to participate in a wellbeing study on their phones.
  2. Subjects were randomly assigned to a mindfulness intervention (n = 57) or a control intervention (n = 64) for 10 days.
  3. Headspace On-The-Go was the free smartphone application used by the mindfulness intervention group. Participants had to engage with simple daily activities based on mindfulness practice for 10 mins a day.
  4. The control group engaged in a neutral task using a list-making application called Catch Notes. They were asked to write a list of what they did on a particular day for 10 mins a day over 10 days.

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Mindfulness results

Results showed for the mindfulness intervention group:

  1. Statistically significant increases in positive affect with a medium effect size.
  2. Reduced depressive symptoms with a small effect size.
  3. Positive correlatations between ratings of task enjoyment and an increase in positive affect.
  4. No statistically significant changes in satisfaction with life, flourishing or negative affect.

No statistically significant gains were observed in the control group.

Mindfulness implications by the authors

The results support the viability of the Headspace On-The-Go smartphone-based intervention to significantly enhance elements of wellbeing in the short-term.

Smartphone-based interventions may be able to play a significant role in the daily practice of mindfulness and the development of wellbeing and happiness.

Mindfulness comments by Rachel 

  • The subjects only used the mindfulness Headspace On-The-Go App for 10 days. This is a very short period of time given that many people learn to meditate over a number of years. The fact, therefore, that there was an improvement in positive affect and a decrease in depressive symptoms in such a short time is very encouraging.
  • Many people do not have the time to go to a meditation group and therefore risk missing out on developing mindfulness. The availability of such an App allows people far more flexibility in being able to access mindfulness training.
  • Being able to demonstrate the short-term effectiveness of such an App is important, given the popularity of Apps. It would be helpful if further Apps could be similarly evaluated. We do not know how this one compares to others. Nor do we know how results compare on a Smartphone versus an ipad, for instance, or versus group mindfulness training. Is it more or less effective? And what if the two were used together - a once weekly group with use of the App during the week?
  • Clearly not everybody will enjoy using such an App and further investigation is needed with different types of people. The group were already biased towards happiness. For example, some people are looking to mindfulness and meditation as a way of reducing stress and anxiety and lowering blood pressure - would it work as well for them? 
  • We now need to know how long such benefits last and how long people will use the App for after the 10 day period and outside study conditions? Do people tire of an App more easily than a regular face-to-face teaching? Or is it more reliable?
  • There are lots of exciting questions waiting to be answered. In the meantime this study offers us important insights, and highlights the value of using a smartphone to teach mindfulness. 

Full article is available here:

Want to gain the benefits of meditation? You can do it now using our professional recordings "Happy not hassled". There are four guided meditations of different lengths and types for you and instructions on how to meditate.

MP3s: $29 (US). Add to Cart
Please note: Depression occurs to varying degrees, and takes on different forms. Please seek the professional help you need. Mindfulness and meditation are not a cure-all for all depression problems.

10. Loving-kindness stops public speaking anxiety

Written by Rachel Green. Director, The Emotional Intelligence Institute. She has practised loving-kindness meditation for many years.

Loving-kindness is a positive, joyful meditation.There are many emotions for us to learn to manage and transform when we are developing our emotional intelligence.

One of the emotions that most of us dislike is anxiety. Yet it is anxiety that most of us also need to learn to handle and reduce if we are to develop our emotional intelligence to a higher level and have a happier life. 

Fortunately, there are many ways to manage and reduce anxiety.

I have already written about the value of meditation in doing this. However, in this article I will specifically focus on loving-kindness meditation, (LKM).

I have found loving-kindness meditation very helpful in reducing anxiety, in preventing anxiety and in managing anxiety across all areas of my life.

This includes overcoming some public speaking anxiety. Public speaking anxiety is a common problem and loving-kindness meditation is an original way of solving it. It has worked beautifully for me. Here's how.

Emotional intelligence 1: How loving-kindness meditation helped my public speaking anxiety

When I was the master of ceremony for a large international conference I became very nervous in the weeks and months before the event. At one stage I even tried to get out of it because I was so anxious I would let the organiser down and not be good enough.

I was typically doing what everyone with public speaking anxiety does - imaging all the errors I would make and the things that would go wrong. I even imagined that the audience would be against me rather than for me. Stupid really, but this kind of public speaking anxiety is played out across the world on a daily basis.

How did I use loving-kindness meditation (or metta meditation) in managing my anxiety?

It was simple really, yet profound. I would imagine the audience in the convention centre and send them feelings of loving-kindness.

In order to send them loving kindness I would first of all place my attention on the area in the middle of my chest and around my heart and bring up an image of something that I felt caring and loving towards. For me it was a baby kangaroo.

However, it may be an image of a soft, lovable dog, or the serene look on someone's face, or it might be a baby, or the feeling of the soft fur as you stroke a kitten ...

Once I had the feeling, it became my meditation focus.

Then I would imagine the audience in the convention centre and let this sense of love and caring flow to them.

I did this night after night. I imagined the audience and sent them loving kindness, for minutes on end.

If you would like to follow a guided loving-kindness meditation, the one that I used is on our MP3 set "Happy not hassled". I recommend it to you.

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Emotional intelligence 2: What results did I get with Loving-Kindness Meditation?

In addition to my master of ceremonies role I also helped to run and organise the conference. I was in charge of the running sheets for the day so I had a lot of extra aspects to consider, all of which could cause me anxiety.

On the morning of the conference I woke up early in a panic that we had forgotten the matches! I was at the convention centre as soon as possible and feeling anxious. I stayed anxious all the way until my curtain call.

However, when I stepped out onto the platform to start the conference everything changed. I looked at the audience and I felt nothing but loving-kindness towards them. My public speaking anxiety disappeared totally and in its place was warmth and caring.

It had worked! It was a beautiful way to overcome the anxiety as I felt good too. 

People commented afterwards how much warmth I conveyed and how good I was at helping the audience relax. Brilliant! I was rapt! They didn't know my secret method either, they all thought I was just being natural!

Yes, loving-kindness meditation definitely helped me in managing anxiety when public speaking.

Now before I am due to speak to any audience I might get nervous about, I practise sending loving-kindness to them the night before and while I am travelling to the event. Now I don't get nervous speaking in public. Managing my public speaking anxiety with loving-kindness meditation certainly worked for me.

How are you managing your anxiety? I recommend you try loving-kindness meditation for public speaking anxiety or anxiety about other aspects of your life.

Want to gain the benefits of meditation? You can do it now using our professional recordings "Happy not hassled". There are four guided meditations of different lengths and types for you and instructions on how to meditate.

MP3s: $29 (US). Add to Cart
Please note: Anxiety occurs to varying degrees. It can be very minor to completely debilitating. Please seek the professional help you need. It is recommended that people with significant or long-lasting anxiety seek the help of a good psychologist, medical practitioner or psychiatrist. Meditation is not a cure-all for all anxiety problems.

9. Mantra meditation for anxiety relief

Written by Rachel Green. Director, The Emotional Intelligence Institute. She used meditation to help her overcome panic attacks & first began practising meditation in 1987. She still practises on a near daily basis.

Anxiety can be very scary, can’t it?

Developing emotional intelligence includes developing the ability to manage and transform our emotions. Mindfulness practice and meditation are two of the many ways that we can develop our emotional self-management.

They are particularly important in helping us to learn how to reduce and manage anxiety.

Some of us hate anxiety so much that we go to great extremes to avoid it. It is important, therefore, that we can overcome our fear of anxiety and gain a sense of control over it, so that we soften its attack and reduce its occurrence. 

This is where mindfulness and meditation can help.

I have used meditation very successfully in managing my own anxiety and curing myself of panic attacks.

I have written about anxiety and meditation elsewhere, and in this article I want to focus on one particular type of meditation that has provided many people with anxiety relief: mantra meditation.

Emotional intelligence 1: What is mantra meditation?

Nearly all meditation has the same core concept: to practise keeping your attention on a peaceful, calm meditation focus. Then, when your mind drifts away to gently bring it back to the meditation focus again.

A mantra is simply one of the many possible items upon which you can focus your attention.

A mantra is a single word or short combination of words that you silently and repetitively think to yourself and focus upon while meditating.

You say it to yourself over and over again, silently inside your head.

A mantra is most often a soothing phrase or word that conjures up relaxation or peace.

The choice of word is yours. All that matters is that the phrase you use resonates inside you to evoke an atmosphere of peace and quiet.

For example, it is unlikely that the phrases, “I am not going to cope”, “I hate terrorists” or “Stupid idiot” are going to be the type of phrases that will put you at ease!

My favourite is the phrase "Peace & calm".

One of the most popular guided meditations on our MP3s is the "Peace & calm" mantra meditation. I used it to help me overcome panic attacks and sleeplessness. If you would like to follow a guided meditation I recommend it to you.

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Emotional intelligence 2: What mantras are there?

In addition to the phrase "Peace & calm" some of the other phrases I have repeated to myself and used as mantras have been:

  • Peacefully breathing in, peacefully breathing out.
  • Be here now.
  • This too will pass.
  • Calm, blue seas.
  • Budd-ho.

Another set of mantras that I've been using recently is from one of my meditation teachers. He uses phrases to do with the impermanence of all things. For example, "A tree is impermanent by nature" or "Sensations are always changing".

This helps us to let go of trying to keep everything in our lives the same. When we expect and want things to be permanent and unchanging, we can evoke much anxiety.

Emotional intelligence 3: How to use a mantra

How can you use such phrases as mantras? It depends on the phrase, so let's take "peace & calm" as an example. We simply and silently say one word on the breath in, and one word on the breath out. Then we do this repeatedly. It would go something like this:

As you breathe in silently say to yourself the word “peace”.

As you breathe out silently say to yourself “calm”.

As you breathe in again silently say to yourself “peace”.

As you breathe out again silently say to yourself “calm”.

As you breathe in again silently say to yourself “peace”.

As you breathe out again silently say to yourself “calm”.

If you ever drift away or become distracted, e.g. by your back hurting, concerns about what the children are doing or having to meet the boss tomorrow, then gently return to silently saying “peace & calm”.

As you breathe in silently say to yourself “peace”. As you breathe out silently say to yourself “calm”.

Thus it continues, for 5 minutes, 15 minutes or 30 minutes.

If you prefer to be guided through a "Peace & calm" mantra meditation, there is one for you to follow on our meditation MP3s "Happy not hassled". You can get them here:

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Emotional intelligence 4: Gaining anxiety relief

Over time the more you practise, the more the anxiety may lessen. Your thoughts may start becoming more peaceful and less agitated by anxiety.

Even when people are feeling anxious this mantra meditation can be done. The more people focus on "peace & calm" the less room there is for anxiety.

I've found that if I’m feeling anxious and I practise the "peace & calm" mantra, the anxiety may be there but my anxiety or fear about the anxiety lessens. I am no longer so troubled by the anxiety itself. It is just there but I am more at peace with it. Then there is nothing to fear.

What words or phrases can you say to yourself, inside your head, to help you gain relief from anxiety and boost your emotional intelligence?

Please note: Anxiety occurs to varying degrees; it can be very minor to completely debilitating. Please seek the professional help you need. People with long-standing or crippling anxiety may need to seek the help of a good psychologist, medical practitioner or psychiatrist. Meditation is not a cure-all for all anxiety problems.

Want to practice meditation? You can do it now using our professional recordings "Happy not hassled". There are four guided meditations of different lengths and types for you and instructions on how to meditate. 

MP3s: $29 (US). Add to Cart

8. Calming your anxious thoughts

Written by Rachel Green. Director, The Emotional Intelligence Institute. She has used meditation to help her overcome panic attacks and first began practising meditation in 1987. She is still doing it!

Meditation can ease anxious thoughtsBeing able to manage your emotions is a significant aspect of emotional intelligence. There are many emotions we need to learn how to handle and reduce, including disappointment, anger, resentment, frustration and anxiety.

In this article we are going to focus on anxiety and feeling anxious.

It is an emotion that most of us feel very uncomfortable with, and yet anxiety is common.

If you can learn how to manage your anxiety you are taking another step forward in developing your emotional intelligence and having a happier life.

One important method I have used to develop greater levels of peace and calm, and to quieten my anxious thoughts is meditation.

Meditation has now been scientifically proven to help people reduce their anxiety.

Emotional intelligence 1: What is meditation?

The basic idea of meditation is to practise focusing on a single calming object and to keep returning to it whenever you are distracted from it. It is that simple.

When you are focusing on the calming object, such as the breath going in and out of your body, or the words "peace and calm",  there is no room for the anxiety.

Despite what you may think, two different ideas cannot be in the mind at exactly the same time. However, it is possible to move between two thoughts very quickly.

If you find yourself focusing on an anxious thought and becoming distracted by your anxiety, you simply learn to return to the calm meditation object. You keep gently and kindly returning your thoughts and your mind to the calm meditation object, over and over again. And over and over and over again!

I often talk about it in my meditation classes as being like taming a wild horse. One of my teachers talks about calming the monkey mind so the monkey stops jumping around and settles.

Emotional intelligence 2: How can meditation calm anxious thoughts?

Imagine you have a wild horse on a long rope and it keeps jumping all over the place and pulling on the rope, trying to break away. What would you do? Each time it tries to break away you would probably gently coax it back. Over and over again.

Over time the horse pulls away less and less. When it does pull away it learns to come back to you more readily. In the end it may just stand still. Peace!

The mind is the same. When you first start meditating it gets distracted from the calming meditation object, and generates anxious thoughts, and starts running towards them and creating more and more anxious thoughts, until it brews up quite a storm. 

Every time it runs off you learn to simply and gently coax it back to focusing again on the calming meditation object. The more you do this, over time, the mind will come back more easily and quickly. After a while it learns to stay for longer and longer on the calm meditation object.

Meditation is a training. It isn't like taking a happy pill and suddenly your mind is free from anxious thoughts and you bliss out! It is a training of the mind. The meditations I used to help me train my mind and calm my anxious thoughts and panic attacks are all on these MP3s.

MP3s: $29 (US). Add to Cart

It is the training that eases the anxious thoughts.

What meditation also does, in terms of anxiety, is return the control to you. People become aware of their anxious thoughts arising and know how to soothe and calm them. This is one of the benefits.

Emotional intelligence 3: How soon will the anxiety ease?

I remember one of the women, Margaret, in my meditation class. She was sure, as many are, that she could not meditate. As I do with everyone, I encouraged Margaret to come to the class for at least four weeks before deciding whether it would help or not. It is important to try it for long enough and to understood the process. That's being emotionally intelligent!

In the first week she was very restless and she described her mind as a bucking bronco, jumping all over the place. The second week she was the same; her horse was running wild inside her head. The third week seemed he same.

In the fourth week, Margaret said, “Do you know I still have a horse in my head but it isn’t a bucking bronco any more. It’s got calmer. It’s kind of just walking around now instead of jumping. Well I never!” She was really surprised. The progress had crept up on her! The horse had finally found a more peaceful way of responding.

The anxiety and anxious thoughts ease over time, step-by-step. How quickly this happens can depend on how often you practice. The kind of meditations Margaret used, and that you could try, are on these MP3s.

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Emotional intelligence 4: How can I calm down my thoughts?

What helped Margaret? It was the repetition that did it. She just kept coaxing her mind away from the anxious thoughts back to the calming meditation object, until her mind and thoughts learnt not to run away so hard or fast.

I remember the first time I tried to meditate. At my first class I ended up getting irritated by the teacher and at the ticking clock they had in the room. At the end I was more stressed than when I arrived! My mind went everywhere except stay on the calming meditation object. I became more and more agitated inside - my mind, like an untamed horse, kept trying to run away and generate more anxious or irritated thoughts, and I was not skilled at bringing it back.

I went back for a second session. It was just as bad, my mind was still restless, my knee hurt and my nose itched, and I kept getting irritated with the person next to me for fidgiting. I simply couldn't stay focused on the calming meditation object. Was I more relaxed? No way - I was just more aware of how full my head was of stupid thoughts. I left not wanting to come back.

However, I decided to go again. My mind was still racing with negative thoughts and running off in all sorts of directions. I was still fidgeting on the chair. And I still hated it.

But something strange then happened. At the end of the session, the teacher said, "Just notice if anything has changed since you started". Oh, yes! My mind was not racing as quickly, there were fewer anxious thoughts and I was a bit more peaceful. I realised it was the repetition that did it.

After that I began to mediate more often. And over time it became easier for me. The anxious thoughts calmed down, they didn't arise so often, and if they did occur I knew how to soothe them so they left again.

Have you tried meditating yet? Have you stuck with it? It is the repetition that helps. It is a training of the mind that can leave you more in control. It could help you calm your own anxious thoughts and develop your emotional intelligence even further.

Please note: Anxiety occurs to varying degrees, and takes on different forms. Please seek the professional help you need. Meditation is not a cure-all for all anxiety problems.

Want to gain the benefits of meditation? You can do it now using our professional recordings "Happy not hassled". There are four guided meditations of different lengths and types for you and instructions on how to meditate.

MP3s: $29 (US). Add to Cart