The yogic path teaches us to cultivate our higher mind and self-regulating capacity in the midst of stress and emotional discomfort.
In yoga, we approach stressful, overwhelming, fearful, angry, and anxious moments with an invitation to summon the neutral Observer or Witness within us.
This part of ourselves serves as an anchor that helps us stay connected to the present moment instead of getting swept up in our emotions, stories, or reactions.
An effective tool that helps activate the Observer within you is the 5 Senses Mindfulness Exercise.
It helps to activate your senses so that the monkey mind has something to do instead of just ruminate, over-think, and loudly react.
This exercise helps your higher mind take over for a while.
And the effects tend to be a reduction in stress and reactivity, along with an increase in inner calm and self-awareness.
5 senses mindfulness exercise steps:
Use the following five steps to ground yourself when things feel chaotic or out of control.
- Activate your breath – Your breath is intimately connected to your mental-emotional state. It can work for you or against you. When you’re experiencing heightened emotions take control of your breathing by taking deep, slow breaths. Inhale for 5, exhale for 7… Do this for a few rounds before moving on to the next steps.
- Focus on 5 things you can see – It doesn’t matter what they are just look around and notice five distinct things. You can either name them out loud or repeat them to yourself silently. Notice each thing and take a moment to soak it in.
- Notice 4 things you can feel – Use your sense of touch and senses of perception to identify different things you can feel like your heartbeat, the feeling of the ground under your feet, your glasses on your face, the chair or couch under your bum, the temperature in the room, the sun shining on you, or your feet enveloped in your shoes.
- Identify 3 things you can hear – Activate your inner ear and notice the different sounds around you. Can you hear the air conditioning blowing? Cars driving past? Are birds chirping outside? Is water moving through the pipes? The ticking of the clock? Take each sound in and notice it with your full attention.
- Observe two things you can smell – Your coffee cup? The leftover food cooked in the kitchen? Your perfume or cologne? The laundry detergent on your shirt? The smell of fresh cut grass?
- What’s 1 thing you can taste? – Got your coffee or tea or water nearby? Take a sip. Grab a snack. Or maybe you can taste your toothpaste in your mouth. Or your leftover meal.
It may seem really simple to go through these steps but don’t underestimate the power of simplicity here.
Allow your senses to guide you into more calm, more awareness, and more well-being.
Make this exercise a habit and notice all the little positive changes that come with it.