Our senses are a powerful mindfulness tool. While most people can listen, see, taste, touch, and smell, mindfulness helps us with our awareness of all that our senses do for us and all the information they give us. The primary way to observe is through our senses. This is in contrast with our interpretations or beliefs about what we take in through our senses. We can use mindfulness of sensations to calm our minds and focus our attention.
Sometimes we have thoughts about our sensory experiences, such as hearing a sound at night and thinking, “someone must be breaking into our home.” It is important during mindfulness to let go of judging our experiences or interpreting them, rather observing what we perceive as it is. Noticing a sound as just a sound, a smell as just a smell, a taste as just a taste, and fully immersing ourselves in that sensory experience. Noticing the sweetness or tanginess of a taste, the sharpness or loudness of a sound, the brightness or dimness of a sight.
Every day most of us hear, see, taste, touch, and smell things, but how much are we fully experiencing the world through these sensations? Our world is so intricate and beautiful, but how much do we really notice it? Mindfully attending to our senses can build appreciation for the amazing physical world Hashem created for us to experience. For example, apples are colorful, juicy, crunchy, flavorful, and packed with nutrients. When we think about how many steps are required for the apple to travel from a seed to your mouth it fills us with awe of His world.
Our senses are critical in mindfulness because everything we sense is perceived in the present moment. We do not smell, taste, or hear things that will happen or that have happened; sensing is something we do right now. Often, we miss out on our sensory experiences because we’re too busy, we’re acting out of habit, or we’re preoccupied by thoughts. One way to bring more mindful awareness into our lives is to focus all of our awareness through our senses, noticing as many details as we can through each sense.
Perhaps challenge yourself to mindfully attend to one sense for one minute daily. Just listen to the sounds around you, just taste that first bite of your meal, just feel the ground beneath your feet. It’s such a great workout for your brain.