There are times when our thoughts and emotions can take over. I’ll go over a quick exercise that forces you to stop and check in with your senses and get back in the moment. At that moment, everything is ok. It’s when we are in the past or future we can become overwhelmed.
Sense 1: Sight: Observe what you See
Take a moment to look around you. Count 15 things you see (use your fingers to count if that helps), identify shapes, name colors and count something. When in doubt, count how many tiles, blinds, pens, books, etc. Don’t ask yourself how that painting makes you FEEL, instead focus on what colors, shapes and objects are in a painting or photo. You want to be as literal as possible to keep your left hemisphere engaged and to ground yourself. Instead, just notice the colors and shapes in the painting. Being logical and literal will help get you out of your head, in the moment and ground the body.
To enjoy a moment more fully then try to notice what you see and pair it with what you feel. Whether it's the sunrise painting the sky or the lush greenery in a nearby park, let your eyes feast on the beauty that often goes unnoticed. Discover something new in your surroundings each day, grounding yourself in the present through the visual tapestry of life.
Sense 2: Hearing: Tune In to the Different Noises Around You.
To help ground yourself in a moment keep your eyes open and notice the different sounds around you. Whether it’s the air conditioner, leafs or acorns crunching as you walk, clicks of a pen, breathing. Just try to notice and name the different noises. Notice what you can hear in your left ear versus your right. What is louder and what is softer.
To further enhance a moment, listen to the natural soundtrack of life. Whether it's the rustling of leaves, the distant hum of city life, or the rhythmic sound of raindrops, immerse yourself in the auditory moments. Allow these sounds to ground you, bringing you back to the present and appreciating the subtle symphony that accompanies your daily life.
Sense 3: Touch: Notice the texture, temperature and sensation of touch
Touch can be a very powerful grounding tool. Try touching two different items, textures and notice the difference between your left and right hand. If barefood, notice your feet as they touch the ground or grass. If you have shoes on, notice what they feel like on your feet. What do you notice and pick up on with this sensation? How can it bring you to the present moment and help you ground yourself into that space?
Sense 4: Taste: Notice your mouth and what you taste
Check in with your mouth and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! When we are upset, anxious, agitated our mouth will get dry. That’s why public speakers usually have a glass of water near them. We tend to offer those who are upset a drink or cup of tea to help calm and comfort them. Notice what you taste. Is your mouth wet or dry? If dry, drink some water and/or a mint or piece of gum. Having saliva in your mouth will help the body feel safer and trick the nervous system. A few other things to try is slowly taking a long sip of coffee or a treat and notice the flavor, smell and warmth. The coldness of water or a drink. Tapping into your sense of taste can take you to the moment and help you become aware of what your body needs.
To savor a moment try this: during meals, put down your distractions and truly savor each bite. Whether it's your favorite comfort food or a new culinary adventure, pay attention to the textures and flavors on your palate. This mindful approach to eating turns a routine meal into a sensory experience, grounding you in the present and appreciating the richness of the moment.
Sense 5: Smell: Inhale the Fragrance of the Present
One of the strongest senses we have that can pull us into the present moment and trigger us into the past. Try noticing different smells to ground you in the present moment. If you have trouble finding something to smell, try smelling your clothes, the air, your hair, a beverage, food, flowers, anything that is around you. Notice and describe what you smell and how it connects you to the present moment. If olfactory senses are helpful to you in grounding your body, keep these in your car or purse: lotion with fragrance, cologne or essential oils.
To increase a positive feeling: take a deep breath and inhale the scents around you. Whether it's the aroma of fresh coffee in the morning or the fragrance of blooming flowers, let each breath ground you in the present. Aromas have the power to evoke memories and emotions, making this sense a powerful tool for connecting with the world around you.
In a world that often demands our constant attention, the five senses exercise offers a refreshing opportunity to step back, appreciate the present moment, and reconnect with the world through sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. By incorporating these mindful practices into our daily lives, we can learn to take ourselves back to the moment at hand and cultivate a deeper sense of gratitude for the richness that each moment holds.
Lowther Counseling Services, www.LowtherCS.com, 2024