During the holidays – with their hustle and bustle – it can be tough to find time to slow down and fully be present in the moment. For this mindfulness activity, the FACE office put a holiday spin on the popular Five Senses exercise to make it something you can do with your family during the holiday season and beyond! The goal of this activity is to calm your mind by using your five senses to focus on your environment instead of your thoughts.
To begin, find a comfortable place and sit quietly. You will bring awareness to each of your senses; one at a time, for about one minute each. Keep reading to learn more!
Notice five things that you can see.
Look around you and become aware of five things that you can see. Pick things that you don’t normally notice; it may be a holiday decoration, or other items in your home that make you feel joyful. Notice the colors, shapes and textures of the 5 objects. If you really look, you may notice things that have gone unnoticed.
Self-inquiry can help bring awareness to the one who is dealing with all these thoughts and feelings – you!
Notice four things that you can feel.
Bring awareness to four things that you are currently feeling, like the texture of your pants, the feeling of the winter chill on your skin, or the smooth surface of a table you are resting your hands on. Notice the pressure between your feet and the floor or your body and the chair. You can observe temperature like the warmth or coolness of your hands or feet. You might take time to feel the textures that you noticed by sight a moment ago.
Notice three things you can hear.
Take a moment to listen and note three things that you hear in the background. This can be the holiday music, the hum of the refrigerator, or the faint sounds of others in an adjacent room preparing a holiday meal. Begin to notice all of the sounds around you. Listen and try not to judge the sounds – just notice them. The more you practice listening without judgement, the more you may begin to notice subtle sounds you did not hear before.
Notice two things you can smell.
Bring your awareness to smells that you usually filter out, whether they’re pleasant or unpleasant. Perhaps the Christmas tree as you walk by or cinnamon pine cones set out for decoration, or it may be the smell of a traditional holiday meal or cookies baking.
Notice one thing you can taste.
Focus on one thing that you can taste right now, in this moment. You might notice your tongue in your mouth, your saliva, and your breath as you exhale. We have tastes in our mouth that often go unnoticed. You can run your tongue over your teeth and cheeks to help you become more aware. You can take a sip of tea, eat a piece of holiday candy or mint, or just notice the current taste in your mouth or open your mouth to search the air for a taste. Notice that when you bring attention to the mouth, you actually salivate! That is your mouth getting ready to taste. Try eating 3 savory, mindful bites at each meal.
This quick and relatively easy exercise can bring you to a mindful state quickly amid the bustle of the season. If you only have a minute or two, the five senses exercise can help you bring awareness to the current moment in a short amount of time.
Next time you’re overwhelmed with your holiday “to do” list or family gathering for the season, take a few minutes to walk through your five senses using the modeling above as a template.