This mindfulness practice is about pointing our attention towards different senses: sight, sound, taste, touch, smell, and our thoughts.
A Meditation for Exploring Your Senses
- We’ll begin by starting in our body, so find a comfortable seat. Place your feet on the floor, your hands on your thighs, and sit upright in an alert and comfortable way.
- Pause for a moment, and point your attention to your physical sensations. Notice how your feet feel on the floor, notice your hands on your thighs, and notice how your seat feels on a chair or on a cushion. Notice your spine, if it’s resting on the chair or slightly off your chair, and now notice your clothing on your body. Notice where you feel your clothing: is it tight or loose? Coarse or soft? Heighten your awareness or your attention on this specific physical sense of being. Notice your skin and if you feel any coolness or heat on your skin, or coming up from your skin. Notice your breath and what it feels like to be breathing in this moment. Notice your physical changes as you inhale, whether it be around your chest or your belly. Notice what happens when you exhale.
- Pay close attention to what’s happening in your body and around your body physically, and now notice any other physical sensations emerging, arising, or falling away. Coolness, heat, tingling, prickly, tension, or relaxation, for example. Take a few moments now to scan your body. Notice what’s happening within.
- Next, turn your attention away from your body and towards your sense of sound. Pause to notice sound coming from afar. Fine-tune your attention to notice what’s happening way outside of your immediate surroundings. Perhaps you hear a distant highway, or a plane, or birds. Perhaps you don’t hear any sounds far out, but you do hear sounds in your immediate surroundings, so notice that. Is it somebody moving in another room or speaking outside your door? Maybe it’s just the hum of the air conditioner or the heat. With this practice of mindfulness we’re building the capacity to notice more. Right now we’re just noticing sound. Bring your awareness even closer and notice the sound of your body, and of your breath. You may notice your body making sounds in your stomach, like gurgling, or notice when you take a big breath in and how your clothes shift. Get really detailed here in the micro sounds in and around you.
- Turn your attention towards your sense of smell. What do you smell in your environment? Perhaps there is a lack of smell right now. Notice that as your mind starts to settle and your nervous system starts to steady, that you start to shift into a more awake and aware state of being, where your senses light up. Oftentimes we can notice things that we don’t notice when we’re living from our busy mind.
- Turn your attention to your sense of taste. Notice if you taste anything, perhaps the remnants of your toothpaste or your coffee. Perhaps there is a lack of taste. Notice your sense of taste throughout the day. It will help you to remember to notice taste when you’re actually eating or drinking.
- Move your attention to your sense of sight. Open your eyes for a moment, and notice your macro vision and what’s happening in your wide vision, all around the room. Notice what’s happening way out beyond your immediate sight, such as the wide-open space, the sky, the trees, and the walls that are far from you. Notice colors and textures, movement and stillness. Notice your peripheral vision, what’s happening right out from your sides that you’re not really looking at but you can kind of sense are there. You’re expanding your capacity to see by focusing your attention on this sense. Come in a little more closely to your immediate surroundings, not too close but sort of halfway. Notice colors, textures, objects, people, movement, stillness, or light. For example, how the light is landing on different objects, or the floor, or the walls, or the trees. No need to label what you’re seeing, just notice. Now bring it in even closer. Notice your immediate surroundings right in front of you, right around the floor in front of you. The walls, the sky, or the way the light is hitting the world in your immediate surroundings. This practice of mindfulness is strength building. We’re building strength in our capacity to recognize our senses, and to heighten our senses, in what I like to call high definition sensory awareness.
- Close your eyes once more to finish up your practice. As you close your eyes, notice your mind. Notice the thoughts that come and go across your mental screen. They could be big thoughts or little thoughts, happy thoughts, or not-so-happy thoughts. You don’t need to label them. You’re just noticing. Just as smells come and go, thoughts come and go. Just as goosebumps arise and dissipate, so do thoughts. In many ways our thoughts can be considered our sixth sense. As you move in and out of your day today, notice your six senses. Your sense of feeling in your body, smell, taste, your sense of hearing, sound, and sight, and your sense of thought. Allow thoughts to come and go, just like a bird comes and goes across your vision. Heightening your capacity to recognize your senses is part of your mindfulness practice