We experience the world in two main ways – through our minds and through our senses. When we experience the world through the mind we are often stuck in fantasy, or we are stuck in memories about the past or worries about the future. When we experience the world through our senses we can have a richer experience of the present moment. The following exercises can help.
- Looking at an image
Take a postcard or an image from a magazine that you find interesting or beautiful. Spend 5-10 minutes really observing the image. Don’t ask yourself who the artist is. Instead, notice the colours, the shapes, the textures. Notice how you feel as you look at the image. Notice what you appreciate. Appreciate the ability to see!
- Listening to music
Many of us love music. Music can transport us to another place. Next time you listen to a piece of music, stop and just listen. Notice how the music feels in your body. Notice any emotions you experience. Notice what you appreciate about the song/ piece of music. Appreciate the ability to hear!
- Smelling a fragrance
There are hundreds of fragrances of cosmetics and toiletries on the market. Yet how often do we really stop to smell the shower gel or hand lotion that we use? Do we notice the smell of our morning coffee or flowers in the garden? Take five minutes to stop and smell a fragrance that you particularly enjoy. Appreciate the ability to smell!
- Touching fabric
Touch can be extremely soothing and comforting. Often we find ourselves stroking the fabric of our clothing without realising that we are doing it. Why not make this more conscious? Spend five minutes exploring the texture of a piece of fabric. You might try doing this with your eyes closed and experience this item as though for the very first time. Appreciate the ability to touch.
- Mindful tasting
Often we eat while doing something else. Maybe we eat our dinner whilst watching TV or holding a conversation. Try taking a simple food item such as a raisin or a piece of chocolate and spend five minutes just eating. Notice all the sensations on your tongue and how long the flavour lingers.