There was a time when I brewed and tasted beer for a living. If it weren’t for one of those forks in the trousers of time so to speak, then I might still be doing something similar to this very day. To be fair, I am, it’s just that I no longer receive financial reward for my efforts.
It occurs to me that there’s a difference between those far off days and my current more meagre brews and socially adapted taste buds. It’s not simply that back then I had yet to uncover the trials, tribulations, successes and delights that the intervening period was to bring. Nor that nowadays I tend to ferment fruit rather than grain, though on occasion the wine does actually taste pretty damn good, (although unfortunately every now and then, it tastes pretty damn poor and finds its way drainwards more directly than the circuitous route the good tasting stuff traditionally takes).
Which brings me to my point, unusually quickly it has to said.
It’s all a matter of taste.
Back in the day, when it was part of my role to join the daily taste panel in one of the largest breweries in Europe and pass judgement on numerous brews, I knew what I was doing. There are a stunning number of potential flavours in, well everything, when you know how to find them. And many of those potential flavours tell you a lot about what’s going on in the beer. So it pays to focus.
If a beer is good, it’s important to know what makes it good so that it can be replicated more often. And importantly, if it isn’t as good as it might be, what’s caused it. Especially as depending on the cause, it might be destined for those drains, (albeit far larger ones than my wines occasionally find their way into), or it just might be that the particular problem has an opposite in another brew, neither of which are perfect on their own but their particular deficiencies or excesses can combine to even out or enhance each other so that the blended result is, well, bang on.
This requires an attention to tasting detail that we seldom use unless we frequent some very particular taste-panel-esque environments. It requires us to concentrate our attention onto the extraordinary variety of experience that our senses really can pick up and alert us to.
A lot of the taste is in the aroma. And, weirdly, in the appearance. And the texture. It’s a proper multi-sense extravaganza. And yes, this is beer we’re talking about.
We almost always miss this. Unless there is a very specific requirement to do so, we prefer to go for the overall experience. The sum total of the tastes, rather than being interested in the underlying flavours which make up the whole. It tends to be the preserve of experts.
We don’t deconstruct flavours or aromas or music or painting or plays or comedy. We just experience the effects that it brings as a whole. We like it or we dislike it. We want it again or try avoid it in the future. But we don’t really know why. We just do.
It’s like that with emotions.
We experience the emotion and react accordingly, shaping our lives and relationships. We rarely focus on the complexities that drive the emotion, so we miss what it is trying to alert us to. We treat the emotion as if it were a problem to be solved by our 21st century brain, existing as we do in a world of primarily cerebral rather than physical challenges. We seem to have lost the innate ability to, for want of a better phrase, deal with our feelings.
This is what mindful awareness, usually reduced simply to ‘mindfulness‘, is all about. Taking the time and effort to experience the different component parts of what we are actually experiencing. Not to pass judgement or to find a way to do something about it, just to become fully aware of what is going on with us at that very moment.
Emotions want us to feel. That’s why they’re there. Their purpose is not to drive us to think about how to solve a problem, rather they try to get us to experience the problem. It turns out that simply by learning to turn our attention onto Now, we dramatically improve our ability to cope, not just mentally but physically too. Even the structure of our brains can change as a result. Just by focussing on Now. By becoming aware. (By the way, did you notice the triple homophonic homonym? It’s surprising what you notice when you try).
It’s as though a fundamental part of us has been forgotten and allowed to atrophy through lack of use, drastically affecting our health. So I would highly recommend that you spend some time learning how to reawaken your natural awareness. Getting back in touch with what is actually happening, right Here, right Now, [as an aside, those of you who are particularly aware and dedicated followers, you’ll know that both the Fat Boy and Mr Davies have been here before].
If you don’t re-awaken, you might just spend the rest of your life worrying about a future that hasn’t happened because of a past that is no longer there, falling foul of the Born Under Punches lyric: Don’t you miss it. Don’t you miss it. Some of you people just about missed it. You can always rely on David for a good turn of phrase.
As you might expect, I’d love to help. So, if you have 10 minutes a day to spare (yes that’s all you’d need – that and an mp3 player), simply click on the link below and take your first steps into the world of mindful awareness. There are two Mindfulness mp3s. One is a first step into Mindfulness Meditation, the other is Mindfulness for Anxiety. They’re both good.
To save you having to choose, the ‘bundle’ of both mp3s is available at half price to WP readers for the rest of this week (until 18th May). Just use the code WPMAY50.
If you have any questions at all, don’t hesitate to ask me.
Live life in the moment…
Mindfulness MP3 Bundle: (Use the code WPMAY50): Click Here
Related Post: Be Mindful of what you know
Keeping It All Inside
© Tony Burkinshaw 2014
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