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Friday, May 31, 2019

Four More Ways to Focus on the Five Senses

Image by Виктория Бородинова from Pixabay

by Catharine Hannay

Focus on one or more of the five senses can be a wonderful way to tap into present-moment experience. Here are some more fun activities you can try yourself or with your students. 

As always, please: 
  • try any activities yourself first before sharing them with other people, and 
  • make whatever adaptations are appropriate for your particular context.

Baby Touch

One of my friends had a baby who was just starting to crawl. They had a great time exploring the floor together because he was so excited by the different textures. Wood, carpet. Smooth, rough. Wow! 

If there’s a baby in your family, you could try ‘baby touching’ together, (carefully and safely) exploring the various surfaces and textures in your house. What do different kinds of cloth feel like? How about a cup or a plate? A teddy bear or other stuffed animal? 

Even if you don’t have a baby to play with, you can still try ‘baby touch’ on your own. How many different textures can you feel around you right now?

update 12/10/19: Here's the link to a printable 'Baby Touch' worksheet

Mindful or Mindless Treat 

For this activity, you’ll need two very small servings of a food you enjoy eating. For example, you could try two pieces of your favorite candy, two berries, or two slices of apple.

Eat the first little treat in the way you normally would.

Then pick up the second treat, put it in your mouth, and chew it ve-e-e-e-ry slo-o-o-owly, paying attention to all the sensations in your mouth.

Did you have a different experience the second time? For most of us, the second treat is much more enjoyable because we really paid attention rather than just gobbling it down.

A Mindful Taste Test 

Gather several bite-sized treats like pieces of fruit, candy, nuts, or spoonfuls of jam.

You could do this in a few different ways:

Compare different flavors of food in the same category, such as:

  • pieces of white, milk, and dark chocolate;
  • raspberry, strawberry, and blueberry jam; or
  • types of honey. (Where I live, we have clover, wildflower, and buckwheat honey, which taste quite different from each other.)

Or compare the same type of food, but different brands, like:

  • different brands of milk chocolate or dark chocolate; or
  • different brands of strawberry jam.

The Sense of Scents 

Gather several different types of food or objects with pleasant or neutral odors.
  • Perfume, cologne, or scented soap;
  • Different types of tea or coffee;
  • Herbs and spices like cinnamon and basil; and/or 
  • Plants with a strong scent, like pine needles.

After you’ve gathered several different objects:

1. Close your eyes if that feels comfortable to you.

2. Inhale and exhale through your nose to clear out whatever scents you might have in your nostrils.

3. Sniff deeply. For those couple of seconds, try to only focus on the sensation of smell.

4. Think about your reaction to this scent. Do you like it? Does it remind you of something? For me, the smell of pine needles reminds me of summer camp, and the smell of cinnamon reminds me of my Grammy’s apple pie.

If you like these activities, you'll find many more options in the Activities for Exploring the Five Senses.

You might also be interested in the variety of other Resources for Practicing and Teaching Mindfulness.

About the Author

Catharine Hannay is the founder of and the author of Being You: A Girl’s Guide to Mindfulness, a workbook for teen girls on mindfulness, compassion, and self-acceptance. (Sales of the book help me continue to run with no sponsorship or advertising.)