Cultivating mindfulness through the experience of your senses is a unique way to approach your home practice, a fun way to make it a delightful, sensorial and memorable experience.
You might think that your 5 senses are rather ordinary, an everyday occurrence. It’s true. We use them everyday, every waking hour. But ask yourself this question, quite frankly: when was the last time you really paid attention and were aware of the full experience of your senses? In reality, we take our senses for granted. And yet, if you pay attention to them you will notice just how extraordinary and special your 5 senses are, and how extremely important they are to your entire experience of life.
The most intense and memorable experiences in life involve all 5 of our senses: sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste. Our senses are very powerful vibrational forces, interconnected, designed to work together to inform us of our place in the world and how our surroundings change from moment to moment. We know the world through our senses, they connect us to everyone and everything in it. They help us learn. They are evocative and nostalgic. We live a multi-sensory experience everyday and yet we're so often unaware of it.
Cultivating mindfulness will show you just how compelling your senses can be.
In my exploration of yoga and meditation, I’ve discovered that awakening and paying close attention to all 5 of my senses is a wonderful way to stay grounded in my practice and in the present moment, to find peace and calm in body and mind, greater well-being, to live with more joy.
So I invite you to think differently about your home practice. Unleash your imagination and create a practice that is personal, investigative, inspirational, creative. Intentionally create a practice that awakens and appeals to all 5 of your senses. It doesn't have to be complicated. Keep it simple. And then just notice - be completely immersed in an awareness of your 5 senses, one after the other. By doing this, each pose, each meditation, each gesture becomes an exercise in mindfulness.
The more you practice mindfulness of your senses, the more your senses will heightened. Your perspective on your practice and even on everything around you will shift.
5 MINDFULNESS MEDITATIONS TO EXPLORE YOUR SENSORIAL EXPERIENCE
The following 5 mindfulness experiences can be done all together, one after the other, as a complete sensorial practice. Or any one at a time. Any time. As part of your daily practice. You can do these practices (except for the Taste experience) while sitting in your home sanctuary, in front of an open window, in your yard, on your front stoop, in a forest…anywhere.
Tips to make the most of the practice:
Give yourself over to the full experience each of your senses, one at a time.
Let the sensations come to you. For example, if you are practicing mindful hearing, give yourself entirely to the hearing, there is only the hearing.
Just let it happen, whatever is happening.
Pay close attention to every sensation that comes. But as you do, set your mind aside: try not to create stories or judgments around what you are experiencing; no judging, no intellectualizing, no naming or identifying.
- Enjoy every moment.
- Sit quietly. First close your eyes and take a few breathes to settle yourself. Then open your eyes.
- Where are you? What is around you?
- Bring your awareness to the many colours, all the infinite variations and shades of those colours.
- Look closely to see the shapes and textures.
- Notice the play of light as it moves and changes. Is there a little beam spotlighting a detail you’ve not noticed before?
- If you are inside, what do you see on your walls? On the floor?
- How do you see your practice tools? Notice the shapes and colours of your yoga bolsters and meditation cushions. See the texture of your yoga mat.
- If you are outside, notice the variety of plants, the shapes of the clouds, the speed at which they are moving.
- What tiny creatures do you notice?
- And how far can you see?
- Softly close your eyes, squinting, and notice how this softens and changes everything you see.
- Just see. Drink it all in. And let your sight make you a part of your very space, of your landscape
- Wherever you are sitting for this meditation, softly close your eyes, and then bring your awareness to your ears, imagine them opening wide and picking up all the sounds available like a highly sensitive microphone.
- And just listen. Let the sounds come to you.
- You might hear the sound of the rain on the roof, the wind in the trees, birds twittering, an insect buzzing, the movement of others in your home, the hum of traffic outside.
- You might like to ring a singing bowl or a bell, and notice the vibrations as they go on and on.
- Notice the spaces between the sounds. The silences. Are they really silent?
- Get curious about the sound but not about the sources of the sound.
- Remember, be careful, don’t start thinking about the sounds or identifying them.
- You might describe them, and think “that’s a sweet sound, a soft sound, a sharp sound, a tiny sound”, etc.
- Avoid creating any narrative around what you hear. Just listen. Just notice. All the sounds in your soundscape.
- Sit and listen for as long as you like.
- Sit with your eyes closed and give yourself over to the sensations of touch.
- Notice the sensations of your body as you sit on your meditation cushion or chair: the places of contact between your body and the cushion.
- Notice the stretching sensation in your knees, any pressure and tingling in your feet and ankles in contact with the floor.
- What can you touch with your hands?
- Notice the sensation of your clothes, in contact with your body. Feel the softness of your meditation shawl as it brushes your skin.
- Touch the fabric of your meditation cushion. Be aware of how it feels.
- Are you on a yoga mat? Reach out and touch the surface, notice the texture, the thickness, the stretchiness.
- Sense the air as it touches your skin, as it moves around your body, subtle, ever so subtle, constantly touching.
- Is the air moving or still?
- Is it warm or cool?
- Feel the air as it moves in and out of your body, over your upper lip, through your nostrils, down your throat and into your lungs. Over and over. How different does the inhale feel from the exhale?
- Sometimes our senses can intermingle. You might feel sound vibrations in your body.
- You might even feel your heart beat.
- Just notice. And immerse yourself in the experience of touch.
- Some scents might be so subtle or so familiar that they go unnoticed most of the time.
- So activate your sense of smell at home by lighting a scented candle, some natural incense, or by diffusing a favourite essential oil blend.
- Then, closing your eyes, focus your attention on what you are smelling. Pay close attention.
- Notice the different notes of the fragrance you are smelling, the building of the scent, the coming and going of the various oils in the blend. Some will be strongly present early on then disappear, others appear, lazily, later on.
- Just notice.
- If you are outside, you can also pay close attention to what you are smelling. Flowers, grass, herbs, trees, dirt…all have different aromas that mix and mingle, creating a new scent experience each time.
- Is there an unnatural odour in the air, like the fumes of a car driving close by? Maybe the scent of fresh laundry? Cooking aromas from a nearby kitchen?
- Whatever is in your scentscape, immerse yourself in the experience, noticing all the subtle and not so subtle scents, fragrances and aromas.
Taste…and all 5 senses in a cup of tea
You can connect with all 5 of your senses in the experience of a cup of tea. Pay close attention and really notice all the details. Be fully alive to the experience, fully present. Savour. You may be surprised by how much you notice when you really pay attention to every aspect of this simple everyday act.
See… your tea pot and cup, the full roundness of the body, the gentle curve of the handles, the colours.
Smell… notice the aroma, the subtle scent of your tea leaves. Try different types…is it earthy, smokey, floral, fresh…
Hear… the sound of the water tap open, water flowing into the kettle, and the sound of the water as it comes to a boil. The sound of the water pouring into the pot, over the tea leaves, of tea pouring into the cup.
Feel… the weight of the kettle as you pour the water into the pot, the shape of the cup in your hands, the warmth of the cup… feel the hot steam on your face as you sip. Notice the temperature of the tea on your tongue.
Taste…the tea in your mouth, on your tongue. Is it bold and bracing? Subtle? Sweet and fresh? Does the flavour develop and change as you sip? Have you added the floral sweetness of honey or the bright tangy taste of lemon?
- And enjoy every sip, every pleasurable moment of this single cup of tea.
CREATE YOUR OWN SENSORIAL PRACTICE
Think differently about your practice, intentionally create a practice that awakens and appeals to all 5 of your senses to create a practice that is personal, motivating, enjoyable. Learn more about creating your own personal sensorial practice HERE.
Our beautiful collection of practice essentials will help you elevate your 5 senses and turn your practice into a delightful, sensorial experience. Discover them HERE.