Sense Our Senses

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There is so much constantly going on around us that it can become overwhelming at times.  Sometimes there is so much action going on (even the thoughts in our own mind!), that it is difficult to focus or be still.  One way to practice focusing on one thing at a time is to use our senses.

When we think about it, it is pretty amazing all of the things our senses can do for us.  Have you ever tried to pay attention to just one sense at a time?  Paying attention and focusing in on one particular sense can be a helpful tool when we find ourselves overstimulated with activities and the demands of the world.
I encourage you to try the following:

  1. Sight:  Pick any object you encounter during the day – it could be your coffee mug, a Kleenex box, an apple – it can be whatever you like.  After you have picked your object, spend time just noticing it with your sense of sight – what color is it?  What shape is it?  You can also choose to go for a slow walk and use sight to pay attention to things you might not have normally noticed.  When your mind wanders, tell yourself “I am only paying attention with my eyes.”
  2. Sound:  Find a place to sit comfortably and safe closing your eyes.  Begin to really listen to what is going on around you – maybe there is noise in the silence or maybe there are so many sounds it is hard to focus on just one.  The task is just to be still and listen without judgment.
  3. Touch:  This activity could be as simple as taking the time to notice the feel of the chair you’re sitting on or the keys of the keyboard.  Notice the temperature, the texture, the material and how that feels on your fingers and hands.  (This is especially fun to do with something soft!)
  4. Taste:  When was the last time you really ate slowly enough to truly pay attention to all your taste buds while eating?  The goal is to really taste your food, slowly with one bite at a time.  Notice how each bite or even each time you chew might prompt a slightly new flavor.

Remember that when practicing these exercises, the mind will naturally want to wander off.  When you notice that, gently bring your attention back to the object at hand.  It is pretty incredible all the stimulation we can get from just 1 sense at a time that it is no wonder at times we can feel overwhelmed when we are using them all at once!  Hopefully you will find that these exercises help you to find a bit more peace in our sometimes very chaotic and active world!
 

Article Author

Sarah Buller

Sarah has her Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of Denver and is also a Certified Personal Trainer.  She has been a Health Coach and Behavioral Health Clinician at Denver Health since 2014 and in this role provides support and motivation to others to help them achieve their health goals.