I don't like to admit it, but I can get stressed out pretty easily. If I'm late to an event, I'm in an all-out panic. Have to parallel park? You know I'm freaking out. So, you can imagine that by the end of the day — after working out, dealing with people and nasty strangers, and juggling work deadlines, cooking, and housework — I'm basically ready to run away. I take off my work clothes and bra, throw on pyjamas, grab a glass of red wine or a beer, and sink into my couch in front of the TV, happy to finally be in my own space. But the thoughts keep lingering.
I've recently tried mindfulness meditation, hoping to push those thoughts aside. Mindfulness is all about being in the present moment: taking note of what you're seeing, hearing, and feeling. A study in JAMA Internal Medicine found that mindfulness meditation may help ease anxiety and depression — but meditation of any kind is a struggle for a worrier like me. When I'm clouding my vision with scenarios of the day, how can I ever experience anything fully? It's like I'm there, but I'm not there.
When I learned that Stella Artois had partnered with Inscape to create a mindful sipping guide for its famous beer, I figured it was worth a shot — after all, I like to unwind with a drink. So, I settled in with a beer, some food, and STELLASPACE — the 20-minute audio guide — to see if I could finally relax. Here's how it went.
Honestly, Beer Has Never Tasted So Good
I opened the free Inscape meditation app and was pleasantly surprised to hear actor Luke Evans narrating (so dreamy). The music was light and jazzy before turning into a calming melody that instantly put me in a state of focussed ease.
When I finally did take a drink, it was unlike any sip I had taken before.
The session started like any ordinary meditation, with me taking in my surroundings, and noticing the tension in my body and my breath, before focusing my attention inward. I then broke the seal of the beer can, poured it into my chalice, and watched liquid gold fill the glass with a perfect bit of foam at the top. Even with my headphones in, the audio accentuated the sounds of the pour — and those nuances unexpectedly soothed me. My senses were awakened as I focussed on the colour of the beer, the shape of the chalice, the malt aroma, the sound of the foam . . . and I hadn't even tasted the beer yet.
When I finally did take a drink, it was unlike any sip I had taken before. I don't normally pay attention while drinking beer. Instead, I'm hanging with friends, watching TV, or scrolling through Instagram. But I've learned that meditation isn't just about paying attention to your breath — you can also use it to be more mindful of what you drink and eat, and that's exactly what I did. I breathed in the aroma, mauled the flavour over my tongue, accepted the coldness and welcomed the sweet and bitter taste that was left behind. Evans' witty anecdotes made me smile, but also gave me the opportunity to place my focus back on the session when my mind wandered.
Eventually, we added food to the mix. I gathered rosemary goat cheese, water crackers, and some almonds. The crackling sound made when I bit into a cracker wowed me — I had never noticed it before. The cheese was soft and chewy. And when I gulped down some Stella, the pair was really something. I felt like Remy in Ratatouille after he tried a piece of cheese with strawberry for the first time — explosions in the mouth. The rat was onto something with his sensory style of eating.
So, What Did I Learn?
I have a bad habit of doing several things at once and not actually experiencing any of them. You know what I mean. If someone texts me while I'm watching TV, I'll pick up the phone and before I know it, I've missed a huge detail in the storyline. Or I might get really sucked into an episode of Younger, only to mindlessly scarf down the bag of Tate's chocolate chip cookies beside me, which 1) pales in comparison to savouring them, and 2) is super unhealthy.
While I can't say that I'll be able to live mindfully every moment of every day, I will make an effort to pay more attention to what I'm doing. I best delight in the things I love when I'm experiencing them one moment at a time. Whether I'm having a beer, talking to a close friend, reading, or even watering my plants, I want to experience my life fully. And maybe that's the key to finally letting go of the little things.