When you’re anxious, overwhelmed or overtired you can literally lose contact with reality. This is not always a problem, but if you tend to worry a lot, it can certainly be both painful and annoying.
This simple mini-meditation, recommended by psychologists, is an effective method for bringing you back to the present. It can be used to calm the anxious or stressed mind, or simply as a means of appreciating the here and now.
You can do it anywhere: at work, on a train or bus or when walking down the street. It can be especially pleasant in a park or out in nature. And it doesn’t require any previous experience. All you have to do is tune into your senses.
Step 1. Look. Identify five things you can see.
Step 2. Listen. Identify four sounds you can hear.
Step 3. Feel. Identify three distinct sensations.
Step 4. Smell. Identify two smells.
Step 5. Taste. Identify something you can taste.
You can whip through these steps in half a minute, though the exercise is usually more effective if you take your time. It’s best to savour each sense for a few seconds or more, rather than to skim from one to the next.
- Quite often, there’s not much around to smell or taste. In that case, just skip the final two steps.
- If you have limited time, just pick one sense.
- If you have 3 to 5 minutes spare start by noticing 5 things from each sense, then repeat but select just 4, then 3, then, 2, then 1.
- Slow down and go deeply into any sensory data.
- Move from one to another as you wish.
- Don’t worry if you slip into thought, or another sense comes into awareness.
- Notice any calming or grounding effects as you proceed, and consider which sense(s) work best for you.
3 Senses in 3 minutes
This sensory meditation focuses just on sight, sound and touch, and requires just three minutes. If you’re feeling anxious, it can help to bring you ‘back to earth’. And if you do it regularly throughout your day, as I do, you’ll probably feel a lot more grounded and present.